The riveting documentary film “Disarm Hate,” narrated by the iconic actor Harvey Fierstein, seeks to create awareness about gun violence against the LGBTQ community following the 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando that took 49 lives as the impetus.
Directed by Julianna Brudek, the film chronicles nine diverse LGBTQ activists who come together after the Pulse nightclub massacre to join Jason P. Hayes, a hairdresser and an activist from New Jersey, who was on a crusade. Without political experience, Hayes built a national rally to demand LGBTQ equal rights, fight the National Rifle Association (NRA) and challenge America’s obsession with gun violence.
“I wanted to bring awareness to how disproportionately gun violence has aﬀected the less privileged members of our community. Two weeks before Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered, Rita Hester, a trans woman of color, was murdered, and the media buried the story. Forgotten forever,” Brudek said. She added, “I did not want that to happen to the Hispanic LGBTQs that lost their lives at Pulse Nightclub. As a community, we must remember the hate crimes, and work together to stop the violence perpetrated on each one of us.”
Beginning as a road trip, the journey turned into so much more than anyone could have expected. Exploring their similarities and diﬀerences, the group develops a life-changing bond as they visit prominent sites of gun violence that have aﬀected LGBTQ people nationwide. This common ground opened discussions between the travelers and the people they meet along the way, that look to alleviate these hate crimes and bring a better understanding for all.
The renowned transgender activist and media personality Ashlee Marie Preston, who is a cast member and an executive producer, said, “The threat of gun violence is intersectional. When someone’s identity overlaps with multiple marginalized groups, their risk is compounded. Black Americans are 10 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than white Americans. Being a woman and trans exacerbates those odds.” She continued, “‘Disarm Hate’ focuses on the discriminatory culture within America that informs the violence marginalized communities face. If we are ever to eradicate gun violence, we must interrogate the attitudes and beliefs that fan the flames of hate. Our journey was not about taking away people’s guns, it was about removing the barriers that obstruct their ability to recognize our humanity.”
The documentary successfully probes the emotional journeys of the activists, who squabble, laugh, cry and even fall in love throughout their four-day, cross-country trip. It also examines opposing views and counterpoints to their calls for gun reform from a pro-gun perspective, as they visit a shooting range and engage with a member of the Pink Pistols, a pro-gun LGBTQ group.
Fierstein summed it up with, “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s deﬁnition of your life; deﬁne yourself.”
The film was released in July 2020 after having secured the necessary funding to bring the project to completion. It is available on multiple streaming platforms including Amazon Prime Video, FandangoNOW, Google Play/YouTube Rentals, InDemand (Comcast & Cox), Microsoft Store, and Vudu. A preview of the film is online. More information on the project is available at ATE.
The full cast list includes: Allison Rae Barnhardt, William Christopher Bland, Donato Crowley, Rachel Fisher, Asher Glynn, Joey Gyondla, Michelle Haro, Jason Hayes, Kevin Hertzog, Deanna Marcin, Maureen O’Donnell, Ashlee Marie Preston and Alexis Sanchez.
Vic Gerami is a journalist, columnist, radio show host and media contributor who is also publisher and editor of “The Blunt Post.” He hosts and produces “The Blunt Post with Vic” radio show. His Q&A column, 10 Questions with Vic, is internationally syndicated. In July 2020, the Los Angeles Press Club announced that Gerami is a finalist in a record seven categories for the 62nd Annual Southern California Journalism Awards.