The last 18 months of the COVID-19 pandemic have laid bare the many inequities marginalized communities face, inequities that the LGBTQ+ community knows all too well.
A new documentary, “Seguimos Aquí: Pride, Pandemic and Perseverance” explores those inequities through the experiences of four LGBTQ+-identifying Latinx Chicagoans as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic in their personal and professional lives.
Filmmaker David Moran of Soapbox Productions and Organizing says making a documentary about a pandemic as the pandemic is still happening presented both challenges and opportunities.
“We were actually thinking about shooting in November, December, but it changed to March,” Moran said. “And so we kind of got fortunate, to be honest, as things were opening up, we have the possibility of, you know, testing the more available, people starting to understand vaccine advantages. So we’re really blessed with that opportunity.”
Moran says he hopes the film underscores both the uniqueness of the Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ community’s experience amid a universal experience.
“For me, being able to engage all four of my [subjects] without ever meeting them and … taking this time to … establish relationships, really hear these stories, it’s really what pushed me through this entire project and being able to do justice by the stories … not only are these LGBTQ folks, not only are these Latinos in Chicago … this is something that impacted all of us.”
Reyna Ortiz, who is featured in the film, saw her participation in the documentary as an opportunity not only to inform, but to also bring attention – and hopefully resources – to the work her organization does.
“I’m really about education and enlightening people or communities about trans issues, gender-nonconforming issues and also the magnificence of Taskforce Prevention, the organization that I work for,” she said.
Ortiz says that throughout history, Black and Latinx trans youth have faced marginalization and COVID-19 is yet another barrier for them.
“COVID was a virus, but we’ve been plagued by a virus in our community for decades and decades and decades. So this was nothing new. It just made everything harder,” Ortiz said. “If you were experiencing homelessness prior to COVID, it only made everything worse.”
But she says the documentary gave her the opportunity to do what she loves most – showcasing the strength and spirit of her community and the youth she serves.
“I really want people to understand the issues and also the resiliency of black and Latinx trans and gender-nonconforming people. Our space is a magnificent space where our youth come in and express themselves and show resilience and power.” Ortiz said. “LGBT youth and trans youth, they face a lot of barriers, but yet they flourish. Imagine with those barriers being removed, the things that they can accomplish.”
The Chicago History Museum will host a premiere screening July 22 both in-person and on Facebook Live, followed by a panel discussion and reception.
“Seguimos Aquí: Pride, Pandemic and Perseverance” is a collaboration between the Association of Latino/as/x Motivating Action (ALMA) and the OUT at CHM Committee of the Chicago History Museum.