Segments from “Pier Kids: the Life,” a documentary by Elegance Bratton and produced by Nathan Proctor, revealed the issues plaguing LGBTQ youth in New York City.
At the event, hosted by the Queer Union on Nov. 8, Bratton and Proctor discussed the film’s themes — LGBTQ youth homelessness, the impact of gentrification on these youths, misconceptions of homelessness and the idea of family.
After the documentary trailer, the audience watched 15 minutes of raw footage and then engaged in a question-and-answer session with Proctor and Bratton.
“The project is important to me, and to Queer Union, because it is making visible an extremely vulnerable group of people who occupy a blind spot in the mainstream LGBT movement, as well as in activism at NYU,” said CAS senior Doug Keeler, the president of Queer Union.
Bratton and Proctor are currently fundraising so the film can enter post-production. Proctor urged students to help spread the word about the film through Facebook, as well as viewing and sharing short clips.
The creators discussed their Kickstarter campaign, which was launched on Nov. 1 and has raised $11,287 to date. Their goal is to raise $30,000 by Dec. 1.
“I think it’s important to remind NYU students of the power that they can wield in just a few minutes,” Proctor said. “If every student donated $1 to the film, then NYU would literally be responsible for the rewriting of history.”
During the event, a beanie was passed around, and the audience was asked to donate as much as they could.
“[Fundraising] was a big reason we asked [Bratton and Proctor] to come,” Keeler said. “Hosting the event was a way for Queer Union to support the project, and I think we successfully did that not just by passing around a hat, but by helping them build a network of people who could advocate on behalf of the film.”
Bratton spoke about the film’s backstory and said he had been homeless for about 10 years before joining the Marines and then attending Columbia University.
“I had spent about 10 years homeless as a result of my mother essentially pushing me away because of sexuality,” Bratton said. “This film is very much a love letter to my mom, but it is also a way of hopefully engaging a conversation that can heal this break that occurred in my family around my sexuality.”
Proctor said LGBTQ youth are at a higher risk for homelessness than others. The panelists cited the explosion of real estate as one of the aggravations for youth homelessness, especially for black and Latino youth.
The panelists also cited NYU’s expansion in Greenwich Village as emphasizing greater issues of real estate expansion. This reference resonated with Steinhardt freshman John Macejka.
“I think the event, in particular, framed [the expansion] in a way that is very relevant to us,” Macejka said. “As students of a university that is at the forefront of West Village gentrification, we have a responsibility to avoid erasing culture and, much more importantly, avoid endangering lives in the name of expansion.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 11 print edition. Kavish Harjai is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.