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23rd May 2023

Interview with Luke Davies from Polari

The Mancunion spoke with Luke Davies head of Polari, a queer production company based in Manchester about Queer representation, the art of filmmaking, and untold stories.
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Interview with Luke Davies from Polari

Luke Davies is the kind of person who radiates creativity. Having founded his own production company – Polari – back in 2020, Luke wanted to bring queer and marginalised voices into the media more than ever before. “For me, marginalised meant giving voice to the voiceless” Luke explained, adding “but not creating a situation where any artist would have to give up any trauma or to validate why they get to speak about queerness.”

To any queer person, trauma is an all too familiar staple of the media that represents us whether it be harrowing or poignant, it can often feel as if our queerness is inextricably linked to traumatic circumstances. Even terrific dramas like Russell T. Davies’ It’s a Sin whilst being crucial and authentic portrayals of queer and marginalised voices are by their nature situated around crises. Leaps and bounds from the homophobic caricatures or the conspicuous absence of LGBTQ+ lives in 20th century media, Luke wants Polari to keep pushing for progress. “ I think that people in my position with experience in the industry need to protect artists more” Luke noted as he underlined how trauma needn’t be a prerequisite for queer storytelling, but only told when necessary for the sake of the art being made.

The wider issue of increased representation is a question of quality, which is a dilemma Luke is all too aware of when we discussed the dangers inherent when it comes to tokenism. “Speaking as a a queer cisgender man, it starts to set a precedent of instating what a queer or marginalised person’s life like” with Luke elaborating that “watching TV growing up gave me the impression that all queer cisgender men were ripped and had financially stable lives despite us never seeing them go to work.” Considerations over representation come into starker contrast when we measure our real lives against those on the screen especially with the potential for shows like Heartstoppers to give younger queer people a very specific image to aspire to.

However Luke points out that these questions around representation can be as much about the authors as the content. “We’re trying to diversify representation, but needing to question who’s letting certain voices through, and who determines what’s diverse enough or what represents a queer community enough. Who gets to uplift those voices who gets to decide the funding? Who gets to decide if something’s too queer or queer enough?” With the gap widening ever more between tentpole blockbusters and indie filmmaking, we can notice a diminishing opportunity for maginalised artists to make their voices heard. This is where Polari steps in to, as Luke says, “to give voice to the voiceless.”

Having spoken to Luke way way back in LGBTQ+ history month which was celebrated in February, we landed on how we can not only champion diversity but push forward and strive for improvement. “What I try to do during the history month is take the time to learn about LGBTQ+ history,” Luke noted, adding “Reading about queer people from history who may not be represented in the media brings them back to life and makes their life worth living. By acknowledging their stories, we can understand what their impact was on the world.”

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