Lost Boys & Fairies creator says BBC ‘encouraged’ chemsex plot: ‘It was important I went there’

Lost Boys & Fairies creator Daf James has talked about the positive impact of getting his queer drama – which features talk of chemsex, Grindr and gay shame – on to prime-time TV, and in front of a straight audience.

The three-part drama engrossed viewers with its powerful portrayal of gay adoption.

Hawkeye star Fra Free played Andy, while the star of the adaptation of War Horse author Michael Morpurgo’s Private Peaceful, Sion Daniel Young, portrayed drag queen Gabe.

The young queer couple are looking to adopt, with more than a little help from social worker Jackie.

While Andy is thrilled about the prospect of adoption, his boyfriend isn’t so sure. With a background steeped in trauma, including the death of his mother, a homophobic father, and a history of addiction, Gabe isn’t convinced he’s set up for parenthood.

Speaking exclusively to PinkNews, James explains why he’s grateful the drama – arguably ground-breaking in its multi-faceted depictions of queer lives, and coverage of topics such as Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEp), chemsex and chosen families – got airtime on BBC One. 

“What’s been really amazing is that all the way through this journey, the BBC and [production company] Duck Soup have never ever let me compromise. They’ve actually encouraged me to lean even more into things,” he reveals.

“I remember when the BBC said they wanted this for prime-time BBC One. I was like: ‘Are you joking?’ I think they saw, and I’m really glad of this, what we’ve always known: the themes that impact [queer] lives are actually universal themes.

“It’s about love. We’ve all been children to somebody. We are all looking for a sense of belonging, whether or not that’s in a family, or not in a family.”

Lost Boys and Fairies creator Def James.
Daf James is grateful his drama got a prime-time slot on mainstream TV. (Getty)

It’s surprising that there has been so little depiction of queer adoption in TV and film, considering LGBTQ+ people and children hoping to be adopted have faced similar struggles.

LGBTQ+ people are often in search of their chosen family – as are children in the adoption system. Kids who go through foster care often experience trauma, as do LGBTQ+ people.

“Adoption is not about birth relationships or blood relationships,” says James, who has adopted three children. “We chose our children and we work together and we came from different backgrounds, but we’re trying to figure it all out together.

“I’m really pleased the BBC saw why those themes were important, because they are social themes.”

While the show’s primary focus is on adoption, it doesn’t stray away from darker elements of queer life.

Chemsex is the term used for people – largely queer men – who engage in drug use as part of their sex lives.

Gabriel (Young) and Andy (Fee) kissing in Lost Boys and Fairies.
Gabe and Andy overcome struggles as they look to adopt a young boy. (BBC/Duck Soup Films/Simon Ridgway)

“It was hugely important that I went there, because again, they have all be part of my life,” adds James, who has previously written stories on Section 28 and its lasting legacy, including gay shame.

However, unlike other shows and films, Lost Boys & Fairies makes a conscious effort to not portray that shame ruining Andy and Gabe’s lives. The series shows that it is possible to overcome struggles that queer people face.

“That was so important to me because there is hope, and I’ve seen the hope, and I’ve experienced hope. I’ve come through things myself, and I’ve seen my friends come through things, and there are people who think: ‘That’s it, that’s my life over’, and there are people who think, ‘I can’t parent, I can’t have children’.

“That was one really important thing I wanted to bring to the table. I think Jackie even says it in episode one. She says: ‘I think people who have lived through trauma can make excellent adopters because they know what it is to live through trauma’.

“That is absolutely true. Humans are fallible.”

Lost Boys & Fairies is streaming on BBC iPlayer now.

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