Makers of a documentary about a Washington, D.C., youth gang of gay and transsexual African Americans have launched an Indiegogo campaign to enable them to finish production and fund the new endeavors of the gang’s work in fashion.
“Check It,” produced by actor Steve Buscemi and RadicalMedia, focuses on five friends who started the group in 2005, while in the ninth grade. Growing up in northeast D.C.’s Trinidad, one of the city’s most violent neighborhoods, all experienced frequent bullying and violence. They decided to join for protection.
“They’re not the Bloods or the Crips by any stretch of the imagination, but law enforcement calls them a gang,” said Dana Flor, who co-directed with filmmaker Toby Oppenheimer. “They call themselves a family.”
The film seeks to capture the young people’s dual nature. Growing up not only as victims and perpetrators of violence but also as loyal protectors and survivors, the members want a different life. They just don’t always know how to get it.
Now with about 200 members ranging from 14 to 22, the group wants to work in the fashion industry, but change doesn’t come easily. Many have criminal records and they often resort to violence as a way to handle their problems.
As Ron Moten, an ex-convict and community leader who has worked to help the kids move into legitimate business, says, “They’ve been damaged, and they can hurt people, but on the flip side they’re resilient.”
The filmmakers know that the movie tells a bigger story, a story that touches on HIV, anti-gay discrimination, poverty and violence. Homosexuality is often condemned in the African American community.
The film shines a light on this bigger story by sharing the journey of The Check It’s members as they struggle not only to survive, but to thrive.