Arts & Culture » Culture

Trans fans at Frameline 42

by Roberto Friedman

Co-director Fiona Dawson (left), director Gabe Silverman, profiled trans troop Laila Ireland and others were in the house at the Castro Theatre for the Frameline opening-night film "TransMilitary." Photo: Steven Underhill
Co-director Fiona Dawson (left), director Gabe Silverman, profiled trans troop Laila Ireland and others were in the house at the Castro Theatre for the Frameline opening-night film "TransMilitary." Photo: Steven Underhill  

Opening night at Frameline 42 was a rousing good kick-off to the film fest. Co-directors Fiona Dawson and Gabriel Silverman were in the house for the screening of their documentary "TransMilitary," which follows the stories of four transgender troops who serve or have served in the US Armed Forces. The Castro Theatre audience was entirely transfixed.

The filmmakers provide an easily followed timeline format that presents a complicated story in clean, simple lines. We see the troops' elation when the military's transgender ban is lifted in the final months of the Obama Administration in 2016, and their downcast despair when the Trump Administration tries to reimplement the ban upon seizing power. Its status remains in limbo as various holds work their way through the federal courts.

"TransMilitary" was a great way to begin the festival. We like this new trend of opening-night documentaries! But it also showed how bigoted laws and regulations have real and pernicious impacts on people's lives. We think Dawson & Silverman's doc is a worthy addition to the cinema of civil rights. We only hope there's a happy ending.

Of course we believe all LGBTQ people need to have the same opportunities as their straight brethren to serve in the military, with the career possibilities that brings. And we're totally down with the struggle. We just wish the whole country didn't glorify warriors and the warmaking machine so much. How many trillion dollars for the Pentagon is enough? Why not divert some of that federal largesse to the very real need for social services, or toward working on problems of poverty and inequality?

In one scene, we see one of the profiled trans troops, Logan Ireland, on patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan. But what exactly is the US military doing in Kandahar? In another scene, we see another of the trans troops, Jenn (some profilees are given full names, some just first names), with her wife and two young children in a domestic scene. In voiceover she's saying that their family tries to keep their home life separate from her work life. But they're playing combat games in the living room, "shooting" at each other with supersoaker water guns that look like semiautomatics. War games have come home.

Shoot-em-up for work, shoot-em-up for play, shoot-em-up at the Cineplex, shoot-em-up in the videogame. How much Out There would rather be focusing on rights for LGBTQ people in the Peace Corps!

Sex Pride

Hello, Everydoobie! This is OT's annual rant where we implore you to stop saying, "Happy Pride!" It takes the gay out of gay liberation, the whole bogdam reason for the party to begin with. Sure, plastic TV anchors can say, "Happy Pride!" to their audiences because they don't want Gramps & Grammy Bumblefarts in Antioch to choke on the gay part. But you? You're right here in the capital of gay capitalism. Say it loud, say it proud, say it graphic!

Happy Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trisexual, Trysexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Answering, Intersex, Polyamorous, Polysexual, Poly-want-a-cracker-sexual, Ambivasexual, Asexual, Be-sexual, 3x-a-day-sexual, Platonic, Uranian, Martian, Venusian, old-timey Homosexual, Futuro-sexual, On-the-down-low, Under-the-table, Over-the-rainbow, Supersexual, Superdupersexual, Supersoakersexual, Quickie, Tantric, All-over Pride!

Or, you know what? Say, "Happy Pride!" like the lobotomized legions all you like. But don't forget the rest of the Seven Deadly Sins! Happy Envy! Happy Gluttony! Happy, happy Lust!

Fred Rogers, emperor of empathy. Photo: Focus Features  

Kindness liberation

Now's a great time to remember that the original goals of the gay liberation movement did not include P.R. opportunities for corporate profiteers and usurious banks. So recently we've been trying to get back to the original impetus behind our coming out and being proud in the first place. The best movie we've seen all month in this regard was "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" Morgan Neville's documentary explores the world of the late great Fred Rogers, title host of the classic children's program "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." No, Mr. R wasn't gay. But he was an exemplar of a different way to be a man: in exact opposite to the monsters of toxic masculinity that currently besmirch the public sphere, Mr. Rogers was kind, caring. His goal was empathy, to put others at ease, to let you know you are loved. We can't think of a more radical, a more liberationist agenda, than to discover and disseminate this. It takes enormous strength to be gentle and kind. Mr. Rogers is our patron saint of kindness. He puts the gentle in gentleman. We'll take that over toxic masculinity - it can bubble out of any member of the LGBTQ tribe! - any day of Pride Month.


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