“Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens” is an independent documentary film directed by Gabrielle Burton that takes an intimate look into the lives of individuals who regularly push the boundaries of gender: drag kings and queens. The film was screened in the Culp Auditorium on Monday, April 25.
“I went to a drag show that a friend of mine invited me to and his husband turned out to be the headlining queen in the lineup, Virginia West in the film, and with that I started thinking about, ‘What is this world and what is the scene like in Columbus and why in Columbus, Ohio?” Burton said.
In the film, gender is more of a concept than a hard and fast rule, and many people from all walks of life participate in drag entertainment.
“I think also the idea that no two people who are involved in this performance do it for the same reason,” Burton said. “I try to bring that up right away in the film that for some people they define it differently. For some they are just doing theater, for some people it’s about making some money, and for some people it’s about politics. It’s all very different.”
The concept of drag can hold different significance depending on which performer you ask, but at the end of the day, most performers do it because of the joy and acceptance from both fellow performers and devoted fans.
“I think people should come to see this film because it is fun and entertaining and it also is worthwhile and it’s moving, and engaging,” Burton said. “The people in the film have an incredible spirit, as one of the reviewers said, it’s all right to fall in love with the characters in the film because the film is about love. And it makes you want to be a better person and think about the world in a more loving way.”
“Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens” provides a narrative that urges the audience to disrupt preconceived notions about gender and consider that despite what we do, what makeup or clothing we chose to wear, we are all humans deserving of love and kindness. If gender is merely only a concept then all people can reject or embrace parts of both the masculine and the feminine in varying degrees of frequency or even simultaneously.
“I think that’s something very inspiring from the people that are in this film, who, many of them, have had very painful experiences from homophobia and problems with their parents or there is a lot of deep hurt that has happened,” Burton said, “and they overcome that with approaching people with such kindness and openness and, really, just with love and allowing people to see who they are. I think that’s inspiring.”