Since 1993, I have been documenting the gay and lesbian Pride Parade in Jackson Heights, Queens, the New York neighborhood where I was born and raised. To look at the parade today – an annual fixture on the Queens calendar attended by over 50,000 including the Borough President, the local Congressman, the Speaker of the City Council and most local City and State level politicians – it is hard to remember or imagine that Jackson Heights’ large lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population lived with an unspoken agreement of don’t ask / don’t tell tolerance for over sixty years.
But that is how things were even in 1990 when Julio Rivera was brutally murdered in the P.S. 69 schoolyard by a hunting party of three young men who were looking for a “gay guy to stretch out.” The murder of Julio was unfortunately typical of gay bashings in Jackson Heights (and in most places): the police weren’t making any effort to investigate, no one in the media reported the story, and the general consensus of the gay community was to best let things be, just as they had done with all the other bashings and murders that occurred in the neighborhood during the 70s and the 80s.
This film, Julio of Jackson Heights, is the story of the handful of people who forced the police to investigate the murder of a man that they considered not worth their time and the trial that followed, a trial that became the first successfully tried hate crime murder in the history of New York State. And it is also the story of how their loss and sacrifices gave birth to the founding of the annual Queens Pride Parade, the election of Jackson Heights’ first openly gay political representative, and in the end, transformed the place that I will always call home.
Production and fundraising
The film is 80% completed: I am currently conducting the last interviews, researching archival material and am halfway through a first edit. The $22,000 I am looking to raise through this campaign will cover the costs of this final production phase including the editing, and will result in what is called an off-line edit of the film.
Afterwards, to be truly completed (color correction, sound production, on-line edit, legal aspects) for showing at a professional level at film festivals or on broadcast television more funding will be required, but this $22,000 is the critical amount to get the film in condition where foundations and funders may take a serious interest in supporting the work.
With the support of a number of organizations, I am holding some work-in-progress screenings in New York in the first half of June. So, if you are in the New York area and are interested in seeing more of the work, please, get in touch with me or check out the webpage for further details. I will also be posting the details here in the updates section!
More than money / Building awareness
If you are reading this page and want to help out, but just cannot give money at this time, please, help spread the word. I am looking to build awareness about the film.
The Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/JulioOfJacksonHeights
Please, check it out… and post comments if you wish! This film is about participating in the dialogue. It is about reflection and discussion.
Our webpage is: http://julioofjacksonheights.com/
Feel free to repost these links on a Facebook page, Tweet them, send them to your friends via email ... if you think this project is important, please, help us get the word out.
About (me) the filmmaker
I have been a documentary photographer since 1990, and in 2000 extended my work to include documentary film. My photography work includes the black-and-white photography book God, Gold and Glory, and Parade the series of photographs of the Queens Pride Parade (1993 - 2002). My short films include The Hunts Point series, The Body and In Queens my Ambitious Soul I Bare. Julio of Jackson Heights will be my first feature length film.
And many, many thanks for checking out the campaign!