Feel good documentary ‘Steelers’ comes to Luna Cinemas

Steelers | Dir: Eammon Ashton-Atkinson | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This documentary is a very personal one for Australian lawyer and journalist Eammon Ashton-Atkinson. Struggling with depression, he left Australia and found welcoming support for his sexuality (and a husband) in a rugby club on the other side of the world – the world’s first gay rugby club, the Kings Cross Steelers.

After suffering from concussion, he took up a camera instead of a rugby ball and followed the team to Amsterdam for the world tournament of gay rugby. Ashton-Atkinson was still part of the team as he filmed, directed, edited and narrated the documentary, introducing the audience to some of the team members who tell their confronting, raw and inspiring stories.

We meet the lesbian coach, Nic Evans, who has come from Wales and is fighting against misogyny in the all-male environment. It is her final season with the Spinners and, as she shares her story of how she got hooked on rugby, we see she is struggling with her own demons.

Player Andrew (Drew) McDowell may be tough and brutal on the field, but he has another life as the drag queen Drewalicious, and he encourages the rest of the team to bring out their inner drag queens. “When I’m off the pitch I will be as flagrant and flamboyant as I want.”

The person whose journey is very similar to Ashton-Atkinson is Simon Jones, a semi-pro rugby player who spiraled into depression brought on by his struggles to come out. It is obvious that Jones is finding it difficult to tell his story but Ashton-Atkinson says that this is the kind of story he would have loved to have seen in his darker days.

This is Ashton-Atkinson’s response to Australian rugby player Israel Folau’s infamous homophobic rants on social media in 2019. He challenges people to look at their perceptions of masculinity and queerness as well as celebrating a sporting club that has quite literally saved the lives of those who have been forced to doubt themselves.

“I’m a reporter so I tell stories for a living, but I’ve never told one this personal. My wish is for this film to give hope to others who may need it, not just those struggling with their sexuality, but anyone doubting themselves.”

Steelers screens Saturday 7 November at both Luna Leederville and Luna on SX at 7 pm.

Lezly Herbert

Love OUTinPerth Campaign

Help support the publication of OUTinPerth by contributing to our
GoFundMe campaign.

Tags: , ,