Program 5 – Check It
USA / 2016 / 91 min. | Directed by: Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer
It’s hardly news that the LGBTQ community routinely faces discrimination and harassment, and that’s especially true for LGBTQ people of color. In very few places are the challenges faced by our community more evident than in our nation’s capitol, which has one of the highest rates of hate crimes against LGBTQ people in the country. Enter the gripping documentary, Check It.
Formed in 2009 by three gay DC 9th-graders as a means to defend themselves against bullying, the Check It gang now boasts over 200 members – and they are fierce! Anyone who attacks a Check It member thinking that because their intended victim is gay or trans there won’t be any consequences is in for a rude awakening. These youth – many of whom have been rejected by family and on their own since the age of 14 or younger – have no fear of fighting for their de facto brothers and sisters.
Navigating life as a youth with a sexual orientation or gender identity/expression outside the mainstream can present enough challenges. These young people, however, often face additional obstacles: homelessness, poverty, and illiteracy to name just a few. Fortunately, they have each other, and a guardian angel of sorts in Ron Moten, an ex-con who now is giving back to the community as a counselor to these severely at-risk youth. Through Moten’s connections, several of the kids are able to enroll in a summer camp hosted by a local fashion show producer to learn about the industry. Another young man, named Skittles, is introduced to a boxing trainer who tells him, if you wanna be gay and fight, get paid for it.
Though the odds seem stacked against these young people, this incredibly powerful film resonates with hope. Executive produced by Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci, this film calls to mind Out in the Night (ImageOut 2014), mixed with RuPaul’s Drag Race, Project Runway, and Rocky. And as with Rocky, audiences will definitely be cheering for these amazing, brave underdogs.
— Christopher Roesch
Official Selection: Tribeca Film Festival Official Selection: San Francisco International Film Festival Official Selection: Frameline San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival Official Selection: Provincetown International Film Festival Official Selection: AFI DOCS Film Festival Official Selection: Hot Docs Canadian lnternational Documentary Film Festival