Ohio's Drag And Trans Performers Dazzle In New Documentary

"Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens" showcases Columbus's vibrant queer scene.

An acclaimed new documentary is putting the drag kings, drag queens and transgender performers of Columbus, Ohio in the national spotlight.

The Huffington Post got an advance look at “Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens,” which opened in select theaters March 3, with an exclusive clip that can be viewed above. In it, the documentary’s subjects explain the challenges of navigating queer nightlife in the Buckeye State. “Being embraced by straight people has not only challenged their viewpoints, but it’s also challenged ours,” one man says. Adds another: “I think [nightlife] really breaks down, little by little, every bit of stereotyping there is.”

Columbus boasts a queer-friendly, if unassuming, reputation; though New York and San Francisco dwarf it for scope, the city ranked 15th in a 2015 Gallup poll in regard to U.S. cities with the highest LGBTQ populations. As a whole, however, the Midwest has consistently leaned conservative. That dichotomy piqued the interest of director Gabrielle Burton, who was particularly fascinated by Columbus’s “incredible, thriving” drag scene.

“It’s obviously unexpected and surprising to a lot of people… that this is happening in the middle of the Midwest,” Burton, who runs Five Sisters Productions, a film production company, with her four real-life sisters, told The Huffington Post. “There are a lot of assumptions that people make about [LGBTQ] issues or certain types of people, that they’re only in big coastal cities. That’s just not true… If they’re here, they’re going to be everywhere, and that’s something we have to acknowledge as a country.”

“Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens” took Burton six years to complete. “I wanted it to only be in the voice of the performers,” the director, who opted against using a narrator, said. “I wanted to capture the diversity in the performances and experiences of people here.”  

Given that the LGBTQ community is facing an uncertain future under President Donald Trump, Burton said she ultimately hopes her film “can contribute, in some way, to the importance of remembering that everyone is human and everyone is deserving of equal human rights.”

“I hope that people will come to see the film and then enter into conversation with more of a sense of respect and compassion for all people, whatever their identity, sexuality or biology,” Burton, whose next project will explore the relationship between parenting and gender identity, told HuffPost. “Our base line should be that all humans deserve equal rights, and hopefully that film can contribute to that in some way.”

“Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens” opened in New York and Columbus, Ohio on March 3, with screenings that include appearances by cast members. In addition, the film will be available on iTunes and other streaming platforms March 7. 

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