“Freak.” That’s what a customer yelled at a transgender diner waitress in the popular TV series What Would You Do? Luckily, this time the customer was an actor. And the waitress? Carmen Carrera, the first transgender woman to marry on television. Carrera appeared on the show to open people’s eyes to bullying the transgender community suffers every day. If you can stomach the vile hatred for a few minutes, you will get to see some pretty amazing stuff.
Jennifer Lopez has been wildly busy as of late – and that’s all despite a global pandemic. The Hustlers star attempted a takeover of the New York Mets baseball team with her husband A-Rod, she’s launching her own beauty line, and continues to push out grade-A social media content that keeps her fans begging for more.
Although she’s been busy, she still found the time to support her nibling – who has created a short film about how art was a lifeline for them when coming out. She used the term, which is a gender-neutral alternative for a niece or nephew, when discussing her sister Leslie Lopez’s child, Brendan Scholl (who is transgender and uses they/them pronouns).
Jennifer Lopez has introduced the world to her nibling Brendon and their new short film.
In a video posted to her Instagram TV channel, JLo introduced the film Draw With Me. She’s supporting the short film by her nibling which is about “accepting change and challenges with love, knowing when we do –everything is possible. Please enjoy the first 5 minutes of this incredible story. Stay tuned for the full documentary at film festivals worldwide and coming soon on VOD. A film by @ithakafilms @marcomaranghello @lyndalopez08,” she says in the post.
During her introduction, she explained, “Draw With Me is a short film about a transgender youth and their journey of coming out to their family, and also engaging with their art to help them cope with the feelings they were having during this time.”
She continued on to say, “The film is important and timely in its story and message, and can have a huge impact on those of us who watch and experience what Brendon and their family is going through in this time of acceptance and admission. It’s a story very close to my heart, because it was a family affair… because Brendon is my nibling.”
In the film, Brendon tells the very important and timely story of their coming out and coming to terms with their identity.
After JLo’s brief introduction, there’s a short five-minute preview of the film, featuring Brendon telling their coming out story. “It was in eighth grade when I finally felt comfortable with saying that I’m trans,” they said. As their mom Leslie explained in the film, “You’re talking about your identity as a person. Sexual preference has to do with who you go to bed with, and your identity is who you go to bed as.”
Brendon continued: “I’m just hit with how lucky I am in terms of the family and friends. Titi Jen made that post where she used the right pronouns. It felt really nice to have a family member in a very public way show their support, makes me appreciate things other people will do for me and for anyone else who’s struggling.”
They also share some very dark moments that illustrates how important films like ‘Draw With Me’ really are.
When talking about their lowest moment in the five-minute clip, Brendon says, “The darkest point was definitely when I wasn’t out to any of my teachers or my parents. I was worried about when I came out, that would be like the last straw, so to speak.” The family then reflect upon the night that Brendon very sadly tried to take their own life.
After this, Leslie says, came a turning point, “When it finally hit me, like, ‘Oh my God, my kid just trying to kill themself’, it just hit me. When you finally get to the acceptance part, then you realise it’s not about you. This is about my child.”
And when aunt Lynda asked Brendon about advice they would give to someone who has never had a trans person in their life, their message was clear. “The best thing I can say is just believe them. I shouldn’t have to be scared to tell people who I am,” they said. “If they don’t like me because I’m trans then it’s their loss. I’m not going to change myself just because this one person doesn’t like it.”
There are few queer characters the people can point to in the past as being someone that changed their lives. Santana Lopez, Naya Rivera’s character on “Glee,” is one of them. Even if you’ve never watched “Glee,” Rivera’s character touched you because of how that representation is so important and empowering.
Naya Rivera’s place in LGBTQ+ media representation will be her long-lasting legacy.
Rivera brought us Santana Lopez, a queer Latina navigating the world of high school in a small town. For many, this kind of representation was so rare and often poorly done that Rivera’s command of the role was impactful. You didn’t have to be an avid viewer of the show to understand and appreciate the magnitude of Santana Lopez.
Rivera brought our experience directly to the mainstream and forced our own classmates to think about the way they saw queer people.
Rivera’s ability to capture the awkwardness and terror of being a closeted queer student in high school still resonates. It is a piece of nostalgia that is so deeply ingrained in queer people that it’s hard not to be emotional about Rivera’s sudden and tragic death.
Who can forget the moment Santana used “Landslide” to tell Brittany that she loved her.
The emotion of a love that is not easy to confess and live authentically is real. Ask any queer person you know about coming to terms with her sexuality in high school and you will hear about the fear and excitement. You will hear about the strategic allyships that epitomize the constant battle between being open and staying safe.
Rivera was more than an actress, she was an ally and advocate during her time on “Glee.”
Season 2, when Rivera’s feelings for Brittany (played by Heather Morris) grew, aired from 2010 to 2011. It was a time when marriage equality was not nationwide. Some states still barred same-sex couples from adopting children. Yet, queer high school and college students had a chance to see their experience mirrored because of Rivera’s insistence.
Rivera’s death is a major loss for the queer community that got our strength and courage from her.
Knowing that all of the “Glee” fans were rooting for and falling in love with Santana Lopez gave us a chance to breathe and feel accepted. Adding her Latina heritage was so important. Queer people of color, who have faced increased scrutiny from their own families, had someone representing them completely and sincerely.
Demi Lovato paid tribute by remembering the time she played Santana Lopez’s girlfriend.
The queer Latina love was not lost on fellow queer Latinos. Lovato herself was not out about her sexuality at the time and she admits in her post that Rivera inspired her. Rivera’s efforts to give the character an accurate and respectful storyline will forever be praised and admired as a fully realized manifestation of our experience.
Thank you for being someone we didn’t know we needed, Naya.
Our hearts are broken and our eyes are wet. We send love and hope to your loved ones. Rest in power, mija. We love you and will never forget what you did for our community.