'Handsome Devil' director's insight on issues of LGBT representation in sport

Director John Butler discusses the comedy drama movie which is set in a rugby school

BY Raf Diallo 20:30 Monday 8 May 2017, 20:30 8 May 2017

A new Irish movie called Handsome Devil has been released recently to some acclaim and there's plenty of interest for any fans of rugby.

Set in a rugby school, the coming of age comedy drama is directed by John Butler and he joined Off The Ball to talk about the film which he describes as "an answer to the John Hughes films I loved and Dead Poets Society" among other coming of age films, particularly from the US.

One of issues touched upon in the film and that Butler - who has played for Ireland's only LGBT football team Dublin Devils - expanded on in his chat was the representation and place of LGBT people in the sporting sphere. 

"I grew up in a rigidly binary world where masculine traits were those represented in sport and it just seemed impossible to be both, to be everything and this film stems from that memory but it's not a period film," he said.

"I think it has something to say in 2017 because as we all know, there is no out Premiership soccer player, there's no elite rugby professional who is out. Team sports, particularly male team sports, seem to suffer from this lack of representation and there are two possibilities: Firstly there are players who don't feel safe to come out which I think is more likely, and then second option is that the young gay athletes are just not making it at that level. And neither of those I think are ideal or acceptable.

"It suggests to me that the choice I felt had to be made still feels like a choice that has to be made for people today."

He explained that the message of film is one that posits that a person can embody a multitude of traits and identities that do not have to rigidly define a person.

Butler also adds that a "safe space for the gay community to play sport is really important".

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