MetroFocus

FULL EPISODE

MetroFocus: July 28, 2021

“PIER KIDS” A NEW DOCUMENTARY FILM FROM POV, TRANSPORTS VIEWERS TO THE CHRISTOPHER STREET PIER, A PLACE WHERE HOMELESS QUEER BLACK YOUTH HAVE FORGED COMMUNITY AND FAMILY. DIRECTOR ELEGANCE BRATTON JOINS US ALONG WITH ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL PARTICIPANTS IN THE FILM, KRYSTAL LABEIJA AS PART OF OUR “CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE ON POVERTY, JUSTICE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA.

AIRED: July 28, 2021 | 0:28:35
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

>>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH

RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND

JENNA FLANAGAN.

>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE

BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN

GANTZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ,

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, JUDY

AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C.

AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

THE JPB FOUNDATION.

>>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO

"METROFOCUS."

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

50 YEARS AFTER STONEWALL, WHAT

DOES LIFE LOOK LIKE FOR LGBTQ

PLUS YOUTH IN NEW YORK?

THE NEW DOCUMENTARY "PIER KIDS"

TRANSPORTS VIEWERS TO THE

CHRISTOPHER STREET PIER, A PLACE

WHERE HOMELESS BLACK YOUTH HAVE

FORGED COMMUNITY AND FAMILY.

THE FILM SHINES A LIGHT ON THE

LIVES OF AMAZING YOUNG PEOPLE

WHO HAVE BEEN MARGINALIZED BY

SOCIETY AND CHRONICLES HOW THEY

HAVE CREATED AN OASIS FOR

THEMSELVES IN THE PIERS,

EXPOSING A SIDE OF NEW YORK MANY

PEOPLE CHOOSE TO IGNORE.

HERE'S A PREVIEW.

>> THIS WHOLE VILLAGE IS ANOTHER

WORLD INSIDE OF A WORLD.

>> HOMELESS YOUTH COME THIS THIS

AREA BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT WE

KNOW IS A SAFE ZONE.

>> THIS IS WHERE WE SOCIALIZE.

>> THE POLICE MAKE IT SEEM LIKE

THEY'RE GOING TO STOP US.

>> WE'RE HOMELESS, SO WE TURN TO

THE LIFESTYLE.

>> ALL I'M ASKING YOU TO DO IS

JUST SEE ME.

THAT'S IT.

>> WHAT'S WRONG WITH TAKING THIS

LIFESTYLE, SETTING IT OUTSIDE

YOUR MOTHER'S DOOR?

>> I'M TIRED OF DOING THAT.

>>> JOINING ME NOW AS PART OF

OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE

ON POVERTY, JUSTICE AND ECONOMIC

OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA IS THE

DIRECTOR OF "PIER KIDS" ELEGANCE

BRATTON.

WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."

>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

IT'S A PLEASURE TO BE HERE.

>> IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU ON AS

WELL.

WE'RE ALSO JOINED TONIGHT BY ONE

OF THE PRINCIPAL PARTICIPANTS IN

THE FILM KRYSTAL LABEIJA.

>> IT'S A PLEASURE TO BE HERE AS

WELL.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

>> SO, ELEGANCE, I WANT TO START

WITH WHAT MIGHT BE AN OBVIOUS

QUESTION, BUT STILL WORTH

ASKING.

THAT IS, HOW DID THIS FILM COME

TO BE?

AND WHAT WAS IT YOU WERE HOPING

TO CAPTURE WHEN YOU FIRST PICKED

UP THE CAMERA?

>> THIS FILM COMES FROM A VERY

PERSONAL PLACE.

I SPENT TEN YEARS OF MY LIFE

HOMELESS, 16-25.

I'M FROM NORTH JERSEY, RIGHT

ACROSS THE RIVER FROM THE PIER,

SO I ENDED UP THERE.

I FOUND A PLACE I WAS DEEPLY

UNDERSTOOD.

A DECADE OR SO LATER I FINISHED

A TOUR OF DUTY IN THE MARINE

CORPS.

I WENT TO COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.

THEY GAVE ME AN ASSIGNMENT.

I WAS FINISHING SCHOOL AND

REALIZING THAT THE BIOLOGICAL

FAMILY MY CLASSMATES DEPENDING

ONTO MARK THEIR PROGRESS THROUGH

THEIR EDUCATION, I DIDN'T HAVE

THAT.

SO IN THAT PROCESS OF TRYING TO

UNDERSTAND WHERE HOME WAS AND

ALSO TRYING TO FULFILL MY

GRADES, I KIND OF LOOKED AROUND

ONE DAY AND REALIZED, OH WOW,

I'M HERE ON CHRISTOPHER STREET

ASKING MYSELF THOSE QUESTIONS.

I LOOKED AROUND AGAIN AND SAW

PEOPLE WHO LOOKED LIKE ME, WHO

WERE BLACK LIKE ME, WHO WERE

QUEER LIKE ME.

I PICKED UP THE CAMERA AND

STARTED THE PROCESS.

WHAT I WAS HOPING TO GET OUT OF

THIS WAS TO SHOW PEOPLE THE

IMPORTANCE OF PUBLIC SPACE FOR

YOUNG COMMUNITIES OF COLOR AND

ALSO TO HELP WORKING CLASS

COMMUNITIES OF COLOR HAVE A

LANGUAGE AROUND CORE IDENTITY

AND STOP KICKING THEIR KIDS OUT

OF THEIR HOUSES.

>> I DO WANT TO COME BACK TO

THAT ISSUE OF A PLACE FOR PEOPLE

WHO DON'T HAVE A PLACE.

KRYSTAL, I WANT TO ASK YOU HOW

DID YOU COME TO BE INVOLVED WITH

THE FILM?

>> SO AS YOU MENTIONED ABOUT

SHARING CAMARADERIE OR LIKE

EXPERIENCES WITH THOSE

INDIVIDUALS MAKES THEM YOUR

CHOSEN FAMILY.

FOR THAT PURPOSE, BEING THE MAMA

BEAR I AM, I SAW A YOUNG VIBRANT

MELONATED INDIVIDUAL WITH A

CAMERA AT A SENSITIVE TIME IN

THEIR LIFE.

THEY WERE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF

SUBSTANCES TO GET AWAY FROM

THEIR DAILY HARDSHIPS.

I JUST DIDN'T WANT THEM TO BE

TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF.

WHEN I SEE HIM WITH PROFESSIONAL

QUALITY.

EQUI

EQUIPMENT I CAME UP TO HIM AND

SAID WHAT ARE YOU RECORDING FOR,

WHAT IS THIS FOR?

I KNEW THE QUESTIONS I COULD ASK

TO SEE WHAT THIS FOOTAGE WOULD

BE USED FOR, BECAUSE THEY

PROBABLY WOULDN'T KNOW WHY

SOMEONE'S RECORDING THEM.

THEY JUST SEE A CAMERA AND, HEY,

I'M ON TV.

I JUST WANTED TO MAKE SURE IT

WAS GOING TO BE USED IN A PROPER

LIGHT.

IN TURN, HE ASKED TO FOLLOW UP

WITH ME BECAUSE HE DIDN'T SELECT

HIS STAFF AT THAT TIME.

THAT'S WHEN HE FOLLOWED UP WITH

ME AND SAID HE'D LIKE TO -- OUR

FRIENDSHIP GREW BECAUSE I KNOW

FOR MOST DOCUMENTARIES IT'S

TRADITIONAL THEY DON'T INTERACT

OR GET ON CAMERA WITH THE

PARTICIPANT.

I WAS NEW TO NEW YORK CITY AND

SO I TOLD HIM I'M TRANSITIONING

TO BE WOMAN, NOT TRANSITIONING

TO BE OTHER.

IF I'M GOING TO BE TRANSPARENT

ON MY PROCESS, I NEED YOU TO BE

MY FRIEND.

OTHERWISE A RANDOM PERSON

WOULDN'T GET THIS INFORMATION

BECAUSE I WOULDN'T FEEL

COMFORTABLE TO DO THAT.

I NEED TO DO THIS SO THAT OTHER

KIDS WHO COME FROM RURAL

COMMUNITIES AND CONSERVATIVE

TOWNS CAN KNOW THERE'S A WAY TO

GET IT DONE IF THEY HAVE THE

DRIVE OR THE DEDICATION TO DO

SO.

THROUGH IT ALL, YOU CAN STILL

ACHIEVE YOUR WOMANHOOD WITHOUT

ASSISTANCE OR SUPPORT, BECAUSE

THERE IS OTHER SUPPORT OUT

THERE.

YOU JUST HAVE TO SEEK IT.

>> KRYSTAL, YOU TOUCHED ON SO

MANY OF THE THEMES OF THE FILM.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT COMES

THROUGH SO VERY CLEAR WITH ALL

OF THE PARTICIPANTS IS THAT

SENSE OF FAMILY THAT YOU BOTH

MENTIONED.

SINCE YOU REFERRED TO YOURSELF

AS A MAMA BAEAR, I'M WONDERING

HOW YOU SEE FAMILY DEVELOPING

FOR THE YOUNG PEOPLE WHO

GRAVITATE TOWARDS CHRISTOPHER

STREET.

HOW DOES THAT FAMILY COME

TOGETHER?

WHAT ARE THOSE FAMILY BONDS

LIKE?

AND PERHAPS HOW ARE THEY

DIFFERENT FROM THE FAMILIES THEY

CAME FROM?

>> WELL, OFTENTIMES WHEN YOU'RE

RESTRICTED TO JUST PUBLIC

HOUSING OR SHELTERS,

HOMELESSNESS LOOKS DIFFERENT FOR

BLACK INDIVIDUALS BECAUSE WE ARE

DEALING WITH DISCRIMINATION

WITHIN THE SHELTER SYSTEM AND

JUST NOT HAVING ENOUGH BEDS.

IF YOU'RE WORKING OR FULFILLING

THE REQUIREMENTS OF, YOU KNOW,

YOUR CASEWORKER'S GOAL FOR THE

WEEK, YOU OFTEN TIMES HAVE NO

TIME TO GET IN LINE TO MAKE SURE

YOU HAVE A BED THE NEXT DAY.

SO WE KIND OF RELY ON EACH OTHER

IN AS WE SAY COUCH SURFING,

SLEEPING AT SOMEONE'S HOUSE

THAT'S ALREADY BEEN PLACED, JUST

RELIEVING YOURSELF FROM THE WOES

OF THE WEEK.

YOU GET MORE NOES THAN YOU GET

YES BECAUSE OF STEREOTYPES AND

THINGS OF THAT SORT.

SO WE LEAN ON EACH OTHER.

THEY ALWAYS SAY BLOOD IS THICKER

THAN WATER, BUT FOR ME BLOOD

DOESN'T KNOW WHAT I WENT THROUGH

YET, THEY DON'T KNOW MY FAVORITE

MOVIE OF TOMORROW, THEY DON'T

KNOW WHAT I DID LAST MONTH AND

WHY IT WAS HARD.

THESE PEOPLE AROUND ME DO.

SO FOR ME, FAMILY IS THOSE WHO

WITNESS YOUR EXISTENCE.

THE ONES WHO WITNESS YOUR

EXISTENCE THE MOST ARE CHOSEN

FAMILY.

THAT'S HOW PIER IS.

WE GO BACK TO CHECK IN WITH EACH

OTHER TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE IS

STILL THERE.

IF NOTHING MORE, YOU WALK AROUND

AND YOU ARE ABLE TO CHECK IN

WITH SOMEONE TO SAY I'M STILL

HERE.

WE DO KNOW THAT TRANS LIVES,

ALTHOUGH THEY MATTER, THERE'S

IGNORANCE IN OUR COMMUNITY.

OFTEN TIMES MY SISTERS AND

BROTHERS ARE DYING BY THE HANDS

OF POLICE OR THE COMMUNITY.

TOMORROW I MAY NOT SEE MY SISTER

SO CHECKING SPACES LIKE THE PIER

IS ONE WAY TO KNOW THAT MY

SISTER MADE IT THROUGH ANOTHER

DAY.

>> ELEGANCE, I SEE YOW U NODDIN

YOUR HEAD TO ALL OF THIS.

>> IT'S SUCH A PLEASURE TO DO

THIS INTERVIEW WITH KRYSTAL

BECAUSE WE HAVE THESE

CONVERSATIONS SO MUCH IN

PRIVATE, IT'S GREAT TO HEAR YOU

SPEAKING YOUR TRUTH.

FOR ME, FAMILY IS WHERE YOU'RE

MOST DEEPLY UNDERSTOOD AND THAT

IS WHAT HOME IS.

CHRISTOPHER STREET, THESE YOUNG

PEOPLE MAKE EACH OTHER THEIR

HOME, SO TO SPEAK BY WITNESSING

ONE ANOTHER'S EXISTENCE AND

CARING ABOUT THE OUTCOME OF ONE

ANOTHER'S HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS

AND TURNING EACH OTHER INTO OUR

OWN KIND OF FAMILY HOME.

IF I'M OUTSIDE ON THE CORNER

WITH YOU, I'M AS MUCH AT HOME

WITH YOU AS IF I WAS IN A

SHELTERED PLACE.

THAT SPIRITUAL HOME MAKES IT A

LITTLE BIT EASIER TO WITHSTAND

NOT HAVING A HOME AND ALSO GIVE

YOU A BASE TO ACTUALLY FIND A

TANGIBLE MOMENT OF THAT KIND OF

SUPPORT.

>> SO ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS I

FOUND INCREDIBLY MOVING AND

IMPORTANT WAS THE REALIZATION OF

HOW MUCH OF A LOT OF TRENDS AND

CULTURE THAT A LOT OF US CONSUME

IN MAINSTREAM AMERICA SEEMS TO

FIND ITS GENESIS WITHIN THIS

COMMUNITY.

EVERYTHING FROM MUSIC TYPES TO

DANCING TO FASHION TO LANGUAGE,

ALL OF THESE THINGS.

SO I WANT TO GET BOTH OF YOUR

PERSPECTIVES ON THE FACT THAT

THERE IS DEFINITELY A LEVEL OF

APPRECIATION, LET'S SAY, FOR THE

CULTURE THAT'S CREATED.

DO YOU FEEL AS THOUGH THAT

TRANSLATES TO THE PEOPLE

CREATING IT?

ELEGANCE, I'LL START WITH YOU.

>> I THINK IT'S A REALLY GREAT

QUESTION AND THERE'S A LOT OF

GRAY AREA TO EXPLORE IN

ANSWERING IT.

THE SHORT ANSWER IS, THERE IS

CLEARLY A DISCONNECT BETWEEN THE

APPRECIATION OF THE CULTURAL

FORM GENERATED BY BLACK QUEER

PEOPLE AND THE QUALITY OF LIFE

THAT BLACK QUEER PEOPLE

EXPERIENCE TODAY.

THERE'S SOMETHING BETWEEN THE

POSITIVE IMPACT AND THE ACTUAL

LIVED EXPERIENCE.

THAT BEING SAID, I DO THINK THAT

BLACK QUEER PERFORMANCE

CULTURE -- AND A HUGE PART OF MY

PERSONAL THESIS AS A BLACK

ARTIST IS THAT ALTHOUGH WE'RE

QUEER WE'RE STILL PART OF THE

OVERALL TRADITION OF BLACK

ENTERTAINMENT IN AMERICA, WHICH

HAS ALWAYS BEEN A SITE OF

POLITICAL AGITATION AND

TRANSFORMATION, RIGHT?

BECAUSE WHEN YOU'RE DENIED

ACCESS TO THE MEANING OF

DEMOCRACY THROUGH VOTING AND

LANDOWNER SSHIP AND FINANCIAL

OPPORTUNITY AND THINGS OF THAT

NATURE, CREATIVE OPPORTUNITIES

BECOME THE ONLY SPACE THROUGH

NOT ONLY CAN YOU BE HEARD, BUT

THE PEOPLE YOU REPRESENT CAN BE

IMAGINED.

WHEN WE THINK OF RAGTIME, SOUL,

BLUES, SO MUCH OF THE NARRATIVE

OF THAT CULTURE IS THE NARRATIVE

OF BLACK PEOPLE.

WITH THAT IN MIND, I DO THINK

THAT THE REPRESENTATION OF

HAVING TRANS PEOPLE -- WHEN I

LOOK AT THE PARIS IS BURNING

GENERAL RTION AND I LOOK AT

RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE AND PEOPLE

BECOMING FAMOUS AND RUSH BEING

BLACK AND QUEER AND PEOPLE WHO

WERE NOT MAKING MILLIONS OF

DOLLARS BEING THEMSELVES BUT

CREATING A MODEL AT WHICH OTHERS

COULD COME IN AND START TO

MONETIZE.

ALTHOUGH THERE IS A DRAG, EXCUSE

THE PUN, BETWEEN HOW WE CONSUME

BLACK CULTURAL PRODUCTION VERSUS

HOW WE SUPPORT BLACK PEOPLE

LIVING SO THEY CAN ACTUALLY MAKE

THESE THINGS, I DO THINK THAT

EVERY ACT OF PERFORMANCE, EVERY

ACT OF REPRESENTATION IS A STEP

IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION THAT

ALLOWS OTHER PEOPLE ONCE YOU

KICK THAT DOOR OPEN A LITTLE

BIT, NOW MORE PEOPLE CAN COME IN

AND PEOPLE LIKE KRYSTAL ARE ABLE

TO STAND ON THOSE SUCCESSES OF

THE PREVIOUS GENERATION AND THAT

SUCCESS IS THROUGH PERFORMANCE.

>> KRYSTAL, WE'VE DONE SEVERAL

STORIES HERE AT 13 TALKING ABOUT

THE CULTURE AND COMMUNITY THAT

SORT OF EXISTS WITHIN THE

CHRISTOPHER STREET PIERS OR THE

LARGER NEIGHBORHOOD AROUND IT.

I FEEL LIKE THERE'S SO MUCH THAT

PEOPLE HAVE HEARD ABOUT, YET AT

THE SAME TIME THIS IS A

NEIGHBORHOOD THAT HAS BEEN

GENT

GE

GENTRYFIING V

GENTRYFING VERY QUICKLY.

WHAT ARE YOUR CONCERNS OF

PRESERVING THE CULTURE?

>> YES.

SO MY OPINION IN REGARDS TO THAT

IS IT DID PLACE A LOT OF

COMMUNITY THAT MANHATTAN SETS UP

TO RECEIVE MINI GRANTS TO

SUPPORT WHICH IS THE BLACK AND

BROWN LGBTQ COMMUNITY.

THEY RECEIVE ALL THIS FUNDING TO

SUPPORT A COMMUNITY THAT CAN'T

EVEN SLEEP OR REST OR AFFORD

USING THE CITY VOUCHERS A PLACE

TO STAY IN THAT SAME BOROUGH.

SO IN TURN THEY GO TO THE PIER.

AS THEY MAKE IT PRETTIER OR MORE

APPEALING TO THE TOURISTS, IT

GIVES AN EXCUSE TO PUSH OUT THE

COMMUNITY IN WHICH THEY'RE

SUPPOSED TO BE SUPPORTING OR

THEY'RE PAID TO DO SO.

I'M THANK FFUL THEY'RE CLEANINGT

UP, BUT I WISH THEY DIDN'T HAVE

SUCH A HARD STANCE AGAINST THOSE

WHO HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THERE, EACH

BEFORE PEOPLE COULD WORK OUT ON

THE TURF, EVEN BEFORE THEY HAD A

RESTAURANT OR A BOARDWALK.

YOU SAW PEOPLE FROM THE

COMMUNITY AND YOU SAW BLACK

QUEER FOLKS OF ALL STATES AND

TOWNS AND COUNTRIES COMING TO

FIND SAFETY IN THE MEAT PACKING

DISTRICT, AKA THE PIER.

>> I JUST WANT TO PIGGYBACK OFF

THAT TOO.

WHEN WE SAY WORDS LIKE

GENTRIFICATION, IMPLICIT IN THAT

BO

WORD IS ETHNIC CLEANSING.

THE VALUE OF COMMUNITIES ARE

DETERMINED BY WHO'S OUTSIDE

VISIBLE IN THOSE COMMUNITIES.

WHEN WE SAY SOMETHING NEEDS TO

BE GENTRY FIED WHAT WE ARE

MOBILIZING IN THAT WORD IS A

POLICE RESPONSE TO THOSE

INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE DEEMED

WORTHLESS, TROUBLESOME TO

PROPERTY VALUE.

IMPLICIT IN GENTRIFICATION IF

YOU'RE GENTRY FIEING A PLACE,

PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT THROUGH

YOUR PRESENCE YOU'RE INVOKING

POLICE BRUTALITY CERTAINLY AND

MORE THAN LIKELY THAT BRUTALITY

HAS BEEN DIRECTED AT PEOPLE OF

COLOR WRIT LARGE.

>> WITH ALL OF THAT, WITH THIS

VIBRANT CHOSEN FAMILY COMMUNITY

THAT SORT OF HAS EXIST ED WITHI

AND AROUND THE CHELSEA PIER FOR

SO LONG, WHERE DO YOU SEE THE

SUPPORT FOR THE LARGER LGBTQ

PLUS COMMUNITY?

I THINK MANY NEW YORKERS KNOW

THAT THE CHELSEA PIERS IS PART

OF GAY HISTORY.

STONEWALL IS RIGHT THERE, ET

CETERA.

AND YET THE NEEDS OF THE

COMMUNITY THAT YOU'RE TALKING

ABOUT, BLACK AND BROWN LGBTQ

YOUTH HASN'T NECESSARILY BEEN

PUT FRONT AND CENTER IN THE, FOR

LACK OF A BETTER DESCRIPTION,

GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT.

>> THE WHOLE PURPOSE OF PIER

KIDS IS TO REDIRECT THE GAY

RIGHTS MOVEMENT TOWARDS SOLVING

THE ISSUE OF QUEER YOUTH

HOMELESSNESS.

DON'T GET IT TWISTED.

WHILE BLACK AND BROWN KIDS ARE

EXPERIENCING THE WORST OF IT,

OUT OF AMERICA'S HOMELESS YOUTH,

60% OF THEM ARE LGBTQ REGARDLESS

OF THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN OR

ETHNICITY.

WHEN WE THINK ABOUT STONEWALL,

WE THINK WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IS

THE PEOPLE WHO HAD THE MOST TO

GAIN AND THE LEAST TO LOSE

DECIDED TO FIGHT AND STAND UP

FOR THEIR OWN RIGHTS.

FAST FORWARD 50 YEARS, WE'VE GOT

GAY MARRIAGE, GAYS IN THE

MILITARY, HIV AND AIDS BY THE

GRACE OF GOD IS A CHRONIC

LIFELONG ILLNESS, NOT A DEATH

SENTENCE.

AND WE HAVE BLACK AND BROWN

TRANS WOMEN, QUEER, HOMELESS

PEOPLE, PIER KIDS, STREET KIDS

TO THANK FOR THESE OUTCOMES.

IN MY MIND, NOW THAT THAT'S BEEN

DONE WHAT IS THE GAY RIGHTS

MOVEMENT IF IT'S NOT DEALING

WITH QUEER YOUTH HOMELESSNESS?

I BELIEVE THAT EVERYBODY WHO'S

LGBTQ IS A PIER KID.

ALL THE CHILDREN ARE SYLVIA AND

MARSHA AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOOK

LIKE THEM.

ALL THESE KIDS ON THE STREET,

THEY'RE OUR KIDS.

THEY'RE NOT SOME AMORPHOUS

PROBLEM.

THEY'RE OUR COMMUNITY, OUR

FUTURE.

THERE IS NO GAY COMMUNITY

WITHOUT THEM GOING FORWARD.

IT'S ON US AS THOSE OF US WHO

HAVE THE PRIVILEGE AND THE

STABILITY AND THE SPACE TO KNOW

BETTER, IT'S TIME FOR US TO DO

BETTER AND TAKE THIS ON AS OUR

MAIN ISSUE.

WHERE IS THE HOUSING, WHERE IS

THE EDUCATION, WHERE IS THE

FOOD?

WHAT ARE WE DOING AS A COMMUNITY

TO MAKE OUR GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT

MATTER IN THE 21st CENTURY?

I THINK SOLVING QUEER YOUTH

HOMELESSNESS AND PROVIDING HELP

TO WORKING CLA IING CLASS PEOPLR

TO UNDERSTAND QUEER KIDS.

I THINK THE GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT

HAS LEFT BEHIND BLACK KIDS IN

EXCHANGE FOR THE ABILITY TO BE

LIKE HETEROSEXUALS.

THAT'S FINE.

IT'S PART OF A STRATEGY FOR

EQUAL RIGHTS.

HOWEVER, NOW THAT WE'VE

ACCOMPLISHED GAY MARRIAGE I DO

NOT BELIEVE SYLVIA AND MARSHA

TOOK ALL THOSE HITS IN THE HEAD

FROM COPS JUST SO UPFOR UPPER

MIDDLE CLASS.

>> OKAY.

>> I JUST WANTED TO ALSO BRING

ATTENTION TO THE FACT THAT

ALTHOU

ALTHOUGH -- IT CELEBRATES A

COMMUNITY THAT WAS FOUNDED BY

ANOTHER BLACK TRANS WOMAN NAMED

KRYSTAL LABEIJA.

THE FUNNY THING IS AS WE SAY

WHAT WE NEED OR WHAT WE'VE

ALWAYS NEEDED WAS HOUSES.

PEOPLE IN THE BLACK QUEER

COMMUNITY, THE REASON WHY THOSE

WERE FORMED WAS TO PROVIDE

SUPPORT TO BLACK QUEER

COMMUNITIES FIRST.

THEN WE TALK ABOUT HOW TO

SURVIVE IN THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCT

THAT WAS GEARED TOWARD HETERO

NORMATIVE INITIATIVES.

WITH THAT BEING SAID, IT STILL

COMES BACK TO HOUSES IS WHAT HAS

ALWAYS BE NEEDED.

AS WE CELEBRATE THE COMMUNITY,

WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT

EVERYONE WHO'S PARTICIPATING IN

SOME WAY IS HANGING ON BY A

SCREEN TO HOUSING OR THEY'RE

BORROWING HOUSING FROM OTHER

MEMBERS WITHIN THE HOUSE THAT

HAVE STABILITY.

IT WON'T BE RECTIFIED AND WE

WON'T STOP SEEING US MAKE NOISE

UNTIL WE ARE ABLE TO HAVE THE

ONE NEED TO SECURE OUR

ACHIEVEMENTS, WHICH IS SAFE

HOUSING.

>> OKAY.

I WAS WONDERING, THOUGH, IF YOU

COULD TALK, BECAUSE PEOPLE MIGHT

SAY, WELL, ISN'T THERE HOUSING

THAT'S INTENDED FOR THE

HOMELESS, PERIOD?

WHY DO YOU NEED SOMETHING

SEPARATE IN TERMS OF HOUSING?

I WAS WONDERING IF YOU COULD

SPEAK TO THAT, KRYSTAL.

>> FOR ME IT'S NOT HAVING

SOMETHING SEPARATE.

WHEN YOU'RE IN THE CITY SYSTEM,

THE PROBLEM IS WHEN IT COMES TO

THE BUDGET THAT THEY PROVIDE,

IT'S NOT ENOUGH TO WHERE A

REALTOR IS BENEFITTED BY

PROVIDING YOU THAT SPACE.

FOR ANYONE COMING FROM A

SHELTER, THEY HAVE STIGMAS THAT

THEY ARE DRUG ADDICTS OR THEY'RE

DEALING WITH MENTAL ILLNESSES,

SO THAT COULD BE PROBLEMATIC

WITH THEIR FACILITY.

SO THE VOUCHERS THAT MOST,

UNLESS YOU ARE HIV POSITIVE, THE

VOUCHERS THAT YOU RECEIVE ARE

NOT SUFFICIENT ENOUGH TO EVEN

GET HOUSING IN A SAFE

ENVIRONMENT.

GIVEN ALL THE STATISTICS THAT

SHOWS IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS IN

WHICH MOST HATE CRIMES OR

VIOLENCE TAKES PLACE, YOU WOULD

THINK THAT ONLY LEAVES ONE OTHER

OPTION, WHICH OUR VOUCHERS

REALLY CAN'T AFFORD US THE

OPPORTUNITY TO STAY.

IT'S MORE SO PROVIDING MORE

FUNDING FOR VOUCHERS IN GENERAL

SO WE CAN HAVE THE OPTION TO

SEARCH NEIGHBORHOODS THAT ARE

BETTER FITTED FOR OUR SAFETY AND

OUR LIVELIHOOD AND OUR

LIFESTYLE, IN MY OPINION.

>> TO PIGGYBACK ON THAT, I AGREE

WITH EVERYTHING KRYSTAL SAID.

IN ADDITION TO THAT WHEN SOMEONE

SAYS WHY DO YOU NEED EXTRA

HOUSING, WE ALSO NEED TO HAVE A

CONVERSATION ABOUT WHAT IS

HOUSING IN NEW YORK CITY IN THE

LAST 25 YEARS AND ACKNOWLEDGE

THERE HAVE BEEN MANY COMMUNITIES

THAT HAVE BEEN JUST BLED DRY.

THERE ARE EMPTY, VACANT

BUILDINGS THROUGHOUT NEW YORK

CITY THAT ARE JUST SITTING THERE

EITHER FOR REAL ESTATE

SPECULATORS TO COME AND GENTRY

FIE A NEIGHBORHOOD OR JUST

SITTING THERE.

I BELIEVE THAT THOSE HOUSES IN

MY VERSION OF A SOLUTION,

WHOEVER HOLDS THE KEYS TO THE

GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT IN NEW YORK

CITY WILL AGGRESSIVELY MOVE FOR

THESE EMPTY APARTMENTS AND PUT

THESE HOMELESS QUEER KIDS IN IT.

WHAT MAKES THEM DIFFERENT FROM

THE AVERAGE HOMELESS PERSON IS

THEY'RE VERY YOUNG.

THESE ARE KIDS VERY OFTEN 14,

15, 16 TO LIKE 25 YEARS OLD.

EVERYBODY AT THAT AGE REQUIRES

HELP TO THRIVE IN THIS

COMMUNITY, IN THIS SOCIETY.

YOU CANNOT COME OUT OF HIGH

SCHOOL ABLE TO BE LIVE ON YOUR

OWN EFFECTIVELY.

NO ONE CAN.

IMAGINE HOW DIFFICULT THAT IS

FOR PEOPLE LIKE KRYSTAL AND

MYSELF WHO NOT ONLY IS IT

DIFFICULT, BUT YOU DON'T EACH

HAVE BIOLOGICAL FAMILY TO TURN

TO THE THINGS GET TOUGH.

PUTTING YOUNG PEOPLE LIKE THAT

INTO THE TRADITIONAL SHELTER

SYSTEM NOW MAKES HOMELESSNESS

AND FAMILY REJECTION INTO A

PRISON PIPELINE.

IT'S ALMOST A GUARANTEE THAT

PEOPLE HAVE LIMITED LIFE

OUTCOMES BY NOT ACKNOWLEDGING

THE ACTUAL TRUE FACTS THAT PUT

THEM IN THAT POSITION.

THESE ARE YOUNG PEOPLE.

THESE ARE SOMEBODY'S CHILDREN.

WHEN I WAS 16 AND I WAS KICKED

OUT, THE WEEK BEFORE I WAS

SOMEONE'S KID.

I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO HAVE A JOB,

I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO PAY RENT, I

DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO GET A

SECURITY DEPOSIT, ANY OF THOSE

THINGS.

TO PUT ME WITH ADULTS COULD HAVE

BEEN DEVASTATING.

>> UNFORTUNATELY AND SO

UNFORTUNATELY WE ARE GOING TO

HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE.

I WILL ENCOURAGE EVERYONE

WATCHING TO PLEASE CATCH THE

DOCUMENTARY "PIER KIDS."

ELEGANCE BRATTON, THE DIRECTOR.

KRYSTAL LABEIJA, ONE OF THE

PRINCIPAL PARTICIPANTS WHOSE

STORY YOU GET TO FOLLOW.

THANK YOU BOTH SO MUCH FOR YOUR

TIME TO TALK ABOUT THIS

INCREDIBLY MOVING FILM AND THANK

YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON

"METROFOCUS."

>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

>> THANK YOU.

>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE

BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN

GANTZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ,

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE

AMBROSE MONEL FOUNDATION, JUDY

AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C.

AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

THE JPB FOUNDATION.

STREAM METROFOCUS ON

  • ios
  • apple_tv
  • android
  • roku
  • firetv

FEATURED PROGRAMS