WATCH: Check It – Black Gay Gang Documentary [Fundraiser Trailer]
“CHECK IT is a feature length documentary about the only all gay African American gang in America struggling to survive in one of Washington D.C.’s most violent neighborhoods. It is an intimate portrait of 5 childhood friends as they claw themselves out of gang life through an unlikely avenue–fashion.”
The filmmakers are seeking $60,000 worth of completion funds for editing of the documentary on IndieGogo. They also say that a portion of the donations will go towards helping the gang members buy materials for their future fashion endeavors.
To be honest, I have mixed emotions on this thing here.
On one hand I sympathize with these young men, women and transgenders not only for banding together when so many in their families and communities in the inner city of D.C. has abandoned, bashed or even have become violent towards them.
I have no idea what that must be like because I not only grew up in a pretty decent neighborhood with a caring family, I also never had to face violent discrimination for my appearance or sexuality.
So I do applaud them for creating their own family, one that possibly defends each other if any of them are attacked for being gay.
On the other hand….
I don’t identify with ANYONE I see in this trailer. The mere fact that I share a skin color and sexual orientation with many of the ratchet flamboyant riff-raff on the screen is not enough for me to feel a kinship.
Don’t get me wrong, I do feel compassion for their situation and hope they all advance and find some pocket of happiness in this short life. But…(from what I’ve seen) these are not poster children for my black gay experience.
And why fashion?!
That’s like making a documentary where a bunch of inner city black youths band together to learn how to fry chicken and grow watermelons.
Stereotypes. Why not add hairdressing to their list of new gay skills?
I’m not accusing anyone of racism, I’m just making the observation that these stereotypical flamboyantly gay ballroom-scene delinquents do not truly represent the black gay experience.
Here’s the synopsis from the filmmakers:
At first glance, The Check It, our documentary subjects, seem to be unlikely gang–bangers. Some of the boys wear lipstick and mascara, some stilettos. They carry Louis Vuitton bags, but they also carry knives, brass knuckles and mace. As vulnerable gay and transgender youth, they’ve been shot, stabbed and raped.
Once victims, they’ve now turned the tables, beating people into comas and stabbing enemies with ice picks. Started in 2005 by a group of bullied 9th graders, today these 14–22 year old gang members all have rap sheets riddled with assault, armed robbery and drug dealing charges.
Led by an ex-convict named “Mo,” The Check It members are NOW creating their own clothing label, putting on fashion shows and working stints as runway models. But breaking the cycle of poverty and violence they’ve grown up in is a daunting task. So when The Check It are not taking small steps forward on the catwalk, they too often take massive steps backwards. CHECK IT captures the struggles and setbacks, but also the progress and triumphs of these kids.
Life for The Check It can be brutal, but it’s also full of hope and an indomitable resiliency. At its heart, the film explores the undying friendship that exists between these kids–an unbreakable bond that is tested every day as they fight to stand up for who they are in a community relentlessly trying to beat them down.
Once again, I do feel compassion. I’m sure it can be very difficult growing up in a poor neighborhood without proper adult guidance, without a proper education, added to that a constant fear of discrimination and homophobic violence.
So I do applaud the filmmakers for shining a light on these young people, the attention they receive may actually help them better themselves in the near future.
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