Wow!  I was totally blown away by the session “Queer Teen Filmmakers: Eradicating Homophobia Across the U.S. Reel by Real.”  With the help of moderator Indrig Hu Dahl, three incredible young queer women screened their short films and then opened it up for Q & A.  The presenters were really surprised to find 60+ people who wanted to hear about their work.  We had to switch rooms to accommodate more attendees, but some people still had to sit on the floor. 

Chicago native Zaida Sanabia showed her film A Fish (Almost) Eaten by a Shark , a documentary originally intended to give other teens a step-by-step guide on how to build a Gay-Straight Alliance in school.  When Zaida encounters homophobia from teachers and the principal, administrators try to confiscate her film.  Beyondmedia assisted her with the process of bringing the film to distribution.  We didn’t get to watch the entire documentary, but the piece that we watched was really powerful. 

Next was Genne Scott, originally from Los Angeles, who made Black Widow–a spoke word piece, set to visual images and video, about black men who can’t come out as queer because of the confines of black masculinity.  This video was produced during Genne’s time at REACH LA.  Although really short, maybe three or four minutes in length, Black Widow really effected me.  During Q & A, Genne spoke about her personal experiences of not fitting in.  It was difficult for her to come out, she experienced bullying from other black queer youth who saw her butch identity as too white, and her father kicked her out of the house.  Genne is only in her early 20s, but her advice and answers were well beyond her years.  I think we’ll see great things from her in the future. 

Finally we screened Coming Out, created by Seattle native Kali Snowden with the help of Reel Grrls.  I can’t give away too much about the plot, but this short comedy appeared like a really fun way to present issues of homophobia to youth.  Kali and Reel Grrls have created a discussion guide for the film and have screened it in schools throughout the country. 

As Zaida explained, youth have an incredible amount of energy, talent, and desire to thrive; they just need someone who believes in them and who are willing to help them along the way.