Gender identity. The sex we’re assigned at birth. Sexuality. Gender expression. The world’s straight majority, of which I am one, often misunderstands the intersection of those things for people who are gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex. In her new documentary, Between the Shades, Director Jill Salvino puts faces to the letters that make up LGBTQ+ and explores how those letters have evolved. It’s a provocative film that examines the immense power of labels and, ultimately, the transcendence of love.
Of course, for some in the queer community there is no singular label that fits. As one person in the film explains, labels are what society attempts to put on you, while identity is how you define yourself. I know that from my adult kid Harry, who has no pronoun preference and whose gender expression defies labeling. He’s one of the 50 participants in the documentary who shares experiences, feelings, and viewpoints, with complete candor and tremendous heart. In fact Harry is the first face you’ll see on the trailer for Between the Shades. Please watch.
Between the Shades premiered at the SOHO International Film Festival last year. Since then the full-length feature has been showing at juried film festivals around the country. You can see it at QFest in St. Louis on April 7 and at the Thin Line documentary film festival in Dallas, April 20-21. Between the Shades will soon have national distribution. And negotiations are underway to make the film available to schools, where kids need to hear positive and empowering messages about diversity.
There is really no better way to understand people than to hear them tell their own stories.
I hope Between the Shades reaches as many audiences as possible, especially in the states that lack protections for LGBTQ+ people. There’s a line in the film where writer Andrew Tobias talks about how things have gotten a lot better for queer people in the big cities. “But if you’re living in Mississippi it’s probably a whole lot different,” he says. Ironically, during a talkback at the recent Queens Film Festival, Jill Salvino noted how some people at the screening in Oxford, Mississippi said they didn’t know anyone who was transgender before seeing her documentary.
America Needs This Movie
I imagine Between the Shades will introduce many moviegoers to the diversity of LGBTQI people. And that’s a good start to furthering family harmony, workplace acceptance, and social equality. The participants in Jill Salvino’s film say they feel a social responsibility to give the queer community a voice. “They also want to help normalize being LGBTQI for younger people who may feel scared and alone,” she told me.
There is really no better way to understand people than to hear them tell their own stories. Bottom line, we’re all human. We all want to be accepted for who we are. We want to love and be loved. And this documentary is bound to be a classic reminder of that.
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