When people come together for storytelling and equity, the results can raise awareness and lead to positive social change. A group of LGBTQ youth recently released a documentary about being Black and trans – and the power of voice and community.
After over 2,000 hours dedicated to squadding up, and skilling up, we slayed on creating and producing content for our Black families and Black trans kindred across the U.S. South. This film-based LGBTQ project came out of a lack (of content created by Black trans folks and content that centers on Black trans folks) and a need (for tools that can be used and easily distributed) to help guide conversations around gender while reflecting the real and many experiences Black trans folks have in their Black families.
We have a commitment to documenting the existence of our people and to shape-shifting to create permanent conditions for liberation. For the past year, we’ve been in the practice of embodying this commitment, and this project has truly been an exercise in this embodiment. Any support/feedback is welcomed and counted as an important part of our growth as comrades in this struggle.
This project idea was conceived at SONG’s Gaycation 2017, and it was an honor to bring this project full circle with our first full length screening at SONG’s Gaycation 2018. SONG stands for Southerners on New Ground.
Out of this project also came a Black Trans Film Training Program, House of Pentacles, founded by Joie Lou Shakur that will continue to train Black trans youth (ages 18 to 35 years old) in the craft of film and thus provide professional and political development, as well as economic intervention in the lives of Black trans folks in the South.
This project was a labor of love from many folks and would not be coming full circle without the help of our Black trans Crew at SONG (Joie Lou Shakur, Micky Jordan, Micky Bradford, Taylor Money-Worthy, and Justice Phillip Valentine) and Black folks who were willing to engage with a community filmmaking model to create something new including Mathama Bility, Patricia Humes, Glo Merriweather, Courtney Sebring and so many other Black folks across the South who took the time to talk with us, watch videos, offer feedback and critiques, and root for/affirm the importance of this work. Special thank you to Sufia Ikbal Doucet for her mentorship in film and for everyone who took the time to watch and rewatch and offer feedback.
We’re very excited to have been a part of this project with our larger SONG fam and we’re honored to have witnessed the transformation of our people (especially ourselves) through this work. We are also so so so proud of all of the Black trans folks who were brave enough to just show up, learn, and experiment with this craft. We hope that you can all enjoy the fruits of our collective labor! And we know that this resource already adds tremendously to marking the existence of Black trans folks during this current political moment.
Southerners On New Ground (SONG) is a regional Queer Liberation organization with an office in Atlanta. SONG is made up of people of color, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, working class and rural and small town, LGBTQ people in the South. The House of Pentacles is a film training program and production house that works with Black trans youth. The House of Pentacles seeks to open doors in the film industry for Black trans youth. This essay and video trailer first appeared on the websites of SONG and The House of Pentacles. They are posted with permission.