DISARM HATE DOCUMENTARY FILM TACKLES GUN-VIOLENCE AND SHINES A LIGHT ON THE OBSTACLES THAT PERSIST WITHIN THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY
By Christopher Henry
It has been four years since the tragic shooting at Pulse, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Leaving 49 people dead and more than 50 wounded, it was considered the biggest mass shooting by a lone gunman in United States’ history, up until the Las Vegas, Nevada shooting only a year later. For many in the queer community, it served as a sobering reminder of the deadly persecution they have and continue to endure. And for some it served as a piercing wakeup call.
‘Brudek weaves through this with poignant introspective, allowing us a glimpse at their personal struggle, as well the persecution and systemic oppression they face’
For one individual, Jason Hayes, it was a resounding call to action. A long-time activist, wig designer and hairdresser to the stars, Hayes set out to do the seemingly impossible by organizing a national rally for LGBTQ rights and ending gun violence. Despite having no significant financial backing or previous experience organizing an event of this scale, Jason managed to attract the attention of many including director, Julianna Brudek.
Brudek took it upon herself to not only document Jason’s foray into his new level of activism, but the journey of 9 LGBTQ+ activists as they venture by RV from Los Angeles to the rally in Washington D.C. The film is aptly named, “Disarm Hate” after the title that Hayes chose to give his rally.
‘It effectively illustrates the point that despite tensions and emotional conflict, these conversations not only can take place, but must inevitably take place for progress’
The individuals chosen to participate in the cross-country journey, each represent different perspectives in the LGBTQ+ community. There are trans women, queer people of color, individuals who identify as bisexual, and folks from different generations of queer liberation. As the trip progresses, there are numerous discussions and an occasional heated debate as each different lived experience comes into conflict with another. Brudek weaves through this with poignant introspective, allowing us a glimpse at their personal struggle, as well the persecution and systemic oppression they face. She also provides the same introspective into Hayes, showing us both a glimpse into his home life in New Jersey and his history facing hatred and discrimination.
The film takes great care to examine the different points of view that exist within the echo chambers of our people, and the unique factions and divides that exist within said community. It features a controversial and relevant discussion between two different trans women of color on the subject of “passing,” which is defined as a transgender person who is perceived as a cisgender person. The movie also makes a point to address the discrimination and hostility often faced by bisexual people within the queer community, and how they are often marginalized and treated as a less legitimate group within us. This movie never takes a side on these important and often underrepresented conversations, but instead allows the points established, however emotional, stand on their own. Amid the array of obstacles that the crew face while heading to DC, they also stop at different cities and towns, that each depict a different tale of the violent crimes that have befallen LGBTQ+ folks throughout the decades.
‘It shines a light on the divides that not only exist between queer and non-Queer Americans, but that still take residency within our own groups and communities’
The film ultimately culminates in the intersection of Jason Hayes with a few of the travelers at the rally, as well as the reaction and change each person has undergone because of taking part. The film makes it clear that the work ahead regarding gun laws and LGBTQ+ protection still has ways to go. It effectively illustrates the point that despite tensions and emotional conflict, these conversations not only can take place, but must inevitably take place for progress.
Disarm Hate is not only an important and much-needed documentary, but a very entertaining and captivating film. It shines a light on the divides that not only exist between queer and non-Queer Americans, but that still take residency within our own groups and communities. And that only by having the conversations, can we break down barriers and move forward into a more inclusive future.
Disarm Hate is available on multiple streaming sites, including Amazon Prime Video, FandangoNOW, Google Play/YouTube Rentals, InDemand (Comcast & Cox), Microsoft Store, and Vudu.