Bold Trio of Movies Adds Nuance to LGBTQ Discussion
THE SANTA CLARA
May 14, 2015
Gangsters can be gay too. Santa Clara’s first ever Queer Film Festival premiered this week to tell unconventional stories.
“We wanted to put on a program that highlights the varied experiences of LGBTQ people, especially LGBTQ people of color, because it’s a side we rarely get to see,” said organizer Kirby Nguyen.
Hosted by the Rainbow Resource Center and the Office for Multicultural Learning, the event opened on Monday night with “Homeboy,” directed and produced by Dino Dinco. The film is an eye-opening documentary that examines the lives of six gay men who used to be gang members. It took eleven years to make and was inspired by Dinco’s upbringing in Los Angeles during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“Gang violence was everywhere,” Dinco said. “It was hyper-violent and hyper-masculine. There was a culture of fear in the streets.”
Because gangster culture is based on machismo, many of the men in the film were forced to suppress their homosexuality until well into their 20s. Dinco’s film was a chance for self-expression that these men are rarely afforded.
“These are people who are rendered invisible,” Dinco said. “There’s a lack of representation.”
He recruited men for his film by posting flyers above the urinals in L.A.-area gay bars. After shooting over 50 hours of footage, Dinco was able to whittle it down to a 56 minute film consisting mainly of interviews. The men were captivating and vulnerable as they shared stories regarding everything from gay sex to tattoo removal.
One particularly interesting story was told by Cisco Rios, a former gangster who came out to his family during a backyard barbeque. After years of hiding his true identity, Rios rejected the “homeboy” lifestyle and embraced his homosexuality.
“You can’t [gang]bang and be gay,” Rios said.
In all, “Homeboy” is a revealing documentary with a touch of humor that explores what it means to be marginalized among the marginalized.
The festival continued with “Pariah” yesterday, written and directed by Dee Rees. It is the story of Alike, an African-American teenager who struggles with her identity as a lesbian. The film premiered in 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the “Excellence in Cinematography Award.”
Similar to “Homeboy,” “Pariah” explores themes regarding suppressed. Though its narrative style is not as raw as “Homeboy’s” documentary format, it is nonetheless a brutally honest look at what it means to discover and embrace your sexuality.
The festival concludes tonight with a showing of “Mohammed to Maya,” a feature-length documentary that follows an Indian woman on her quest to Bangkok, Thailand in an effort to receive sexual reassignment surgery. The film promises to be a sympathetic, no-holds-barred look at what it means to be transgender in a conservative environment.
The organizers hope the festival spawns progressive dialogues after shining a light on rarely seen issues.
Contact Jimmy Flynn at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.