HANDBAG - the synopsis
Handbag is a documentary feature film about the unsung story of the fag hag, and her role as a gay activist, told through four generations of Australian women.
The term 'handbag' refers to the unique friendship between gay men and straight women. Monica Davidson is a devoted handbag and self-declared 'fag hag', and it runs in the family - her grandmother was a ‘beard’, her mother a disco diva and AIDS volunteer, and her three kids are all part of the GLBTQI rainbow.
Monica is fascinated by the largely unsung history of the ‘fag hag’ as gay activist, even though straight women have been allies and protectors for their gay friends for generations. The friendship itself is simultaneously renowned in pop culture and yet often misunderstood in real life, even through the hideous use of the term ‘hag’. Monica dives into academic research to find out the roots of the ‘fag hag’ friendship, and interviews people on the street about the stereotype of the fag has as the fat and sexless hanger-on. She even speculates about FagHagZilla, a mythological monster that destroys fun-loving gay men with a single stomp.
Monica decides to embark on a personal crusade to find out more about the women who have always stood beside their gay friends through thick, thin and sequins. During a visit to the USA and the San Francisco Pride festival, she meets more unacknowledged straight heroines of the gay community, who are quietly providing love, support and allegiance without any expectation of recognition or reward.
On her return to Australia, Monica and her posse carve out a moment in the spotlight for straight women and their gay friends by creating a giant moving Handbag float for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.
Using history, dance sequences, pathos and a huge helping of humour, Handbag explains the remarkable women who have stood side-by-side with their gay friends, gay activists often ignored and even shamed by the community they support, still staunch devotees to the end.
Finally, the untold story of the fag hag, told by the women themselves and created by an almost entirely female crew - one of the first docos in Australia with an all-female crew, cast and storyline.
Producer – Phoebe Hart
Writer and Director – Monica Davidson
Co-writers – Naomi Doyle, Phoebe Hart
Editor – Claire Fletcher
Associate Editor – Lara Benwell
Director of Photography – Velinda Wardell
Animator – Sarah Rackemann
Choreography – Sarah Lord
Monica and the Handbag float. Photo by Gregory Anderson.
Monica and Handbags getting ready for Destiny's Child
Fag Hag + Roller Disco = Heaven!