New Gay Documentary Is Only A Trailer And Is Already Wildly Successful, Deeply Moving

Before we begin, I just want you to watch this video. Watch it in full and take it all in and don’t open it and then check your email and then go back to it and then mute it and make a phone call. Watch this video.

Your first thought should be oh my gosh I am crying these beautiful tears of joy and enthusiasm. Ryan James Yezak, the filmmaker / Gay Man With A Film Plan, is trying to make a documentary about you, after all. It is totally normal to feel deeply moved right now. Plus, did you catch those clips of Rachel Maddow, Hillary Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, Charlize Theron, and various woman news anchors? “Second Class Citizens” is telling a story about the gay rights movement – and it seems like ladies inclined to do other ladies appear to actually be a part of it.

The film’s purpose, though, goes beyond simply telling or teaching lessons about gay rights and being gay. In fact, the entire project is meant to inspire further movement toward equality, since nothing seems to be stopping the stubborn homophobes we are forced to fraternize with and around:

The general population is not aware that discrimination against the gay community goes beyond marriage & bullying. There is far too much hate directed towards our community and I want to capture that hate on camera. In addition, I want to explore where this hate comes from, why it continues to exist, and what we must do to get rid of it. A better solution is needed because the solution we have right now isn’t working fast enough.

Yezak is hoping to cover a broad range of issues related to discrimination against the gays: marriage, adoption, education, private organizations and religion, employment, giving blood and marrow and semen, bullying, housing and homelessness, and the “gay panic defense.” He is also totally enthusiastic and totally overwhelmingly excited to make one of the most profound movies about gay people in our time:

The idea for this documentary was born when I first learned that California’s Proposition 8 had passed, defining marriage only between a man & woman in that state. I was angry & I wanted to do something about it. As time went by, I learned more & more about the inequalities that exist for gays, lesbians, & bisexuals in this country. I made a friend on YouTube who revealed to me that he would be expelled from his school if they found out he was gay. I did not believe him – in what kind of reality could something like that be true? It is true. Shortly after that, a string of natural disasters occurred & my boss asked me if I wanted to donate blood with her. I immediately got up to go with her & then stopped abruptly realizing that I couldn’t donate blood. She did not believe me, nor did she understand why. I felt like a different species. I did not feel one with the human race in that moment. That was the moment it had a direct effect on me & my rights – that is when I decided to make this documentary.

If words aren’t enough to prove his spirit, you can also watch this video which varies entirely in tone from the above trailer to see how excited he is:

Hopefully by now, you’ve finished crying. Especially because you must admit that all those clips of dancing gay men just cheered you up. But there is certainly room here now for a knee-jerk reaction of oh my gosh what if this isn’t about me, because the filmmaker is a cis white dude and so are many of the people in his trailer. Plus, the “T” in LGBTQ appears to be mysteriously and awkwardly absent from this documentary, despite how integral, oh, I don’t know, the Stonewall Riots and other trans-led and trans-inclusive movements were in creating a gay or queer movement in the first place.

The power of one artist to tell a story, however, is often limited to their own lives and experiences. And despite the imperfections of this project, I want you to sit back and relish the idea that soon an entire movie will exist that somewhat chronicles gay history for everyone else on this planet and makes the equality of gay people seem not only important, but imperative. And that will always be a good thing, even if it is only a small step towards the best things.

I don’t have to urge you to give, because Yezak’s Kickstarter goal has been exceeded, to say the least: he has 48 days to go and has already doubled his target amount in donations. But you can show support on Facebook and Twitter, and make sure you follow the movie to its eventual release. You’re going to want a copy, after all.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. I saw this video in the beginning of the week. I cried so hard. Everything about it is so moving. The music, the clips, the message. Love it.

  2. I find it moving as a documentary about white male gay freedom… but it has zilch about the contributions by gay people of color and not nearly enough about lesbians and bi women not to mention that of male sissies, queens and fairies. So not okay.

    Moreover, as you mentioned, it completely whitewashes trans people and their contributions towards activism (which goes way beyond and before Stonewall) to the LGBTQ movement. Not even a year ago, another documentary came out about Stonewall which literally sandblasted trans people (especially those of color) from the event and that’s absolutely NOT okay. Back in the late 90s I might have thought this was better than nothing but in 2012 it’s not good enough. And to excuse it by saying “it’s his view of gay rights” is absurd. Of course it’s his view, but documentarians of major social movements and oppression have a duty to go beyond simplistic tunnel vision examinations of their subjects. I’ll pass. :(

    • Wait now, hang on a minute….it hasnt even been made yet! It’s only an ad for a possible documentary that doesnt exist yet, so maybe people are jumping the gun by criticising it’s content already…give the man a chance, perhaps when he does actually make the documentary it will feature LGBTQ people and people of colour etc, but we cant know that yet can we!!

      • It’s only one trailer, with no original footage and it hasn’t even been made yet. I agree that people are jumping the gun.

    • you know what? i really love reading your commentary. it’s always insightful and spot on. i felt the trailer for the documentary seemed somewhat fixated on white cisgendered men as well, and that this kind of whitewashing is consistently a problem in lgbt media. i hope the filmaker is held accountable for this and that when the film is completed it highlights the actions, contributions, and the stories of the queers of color and the transfolks that have been instrumental in lgbtq movement. if he covers stonewall he needs to include the plain fact that it was trans people and people of color initially rebelling against the police.

    • I totally agree with your resignations, but I will say that the white, male, cisgendered focus of the trailer might have more to do with the fact that the media as a whole has that bias, and already available media was where he pulled the substance for this trailer. I do kind of get a feeling that the documentary might be more of the same, but here’s hoping otherwise.

  3. I enjoyed this (despite the fact that it got a bit corny) but, no mention of Trans* folk? We’re all Queer, are we not?

    I might be less inclined to donate to this if I identified as Trans*.

  4. In fact, I am less inclined to support this to be honest.
    Ginasf you are right – not good enough.

  5. Overly cis and male, but hey, it cheered me up considerably. Today I heard intolerance coming from the mouth of one of my mentors, one of the few people I thought would be on my side. It disappoints me beyond belief that so many (straight, white, cis) people still have no idea what the LGBTQ community has been through and is going through today. Maybe this documentary will help illuminate more minds.

  6. Sexual orientation and gender aren’t exactly the same thing, so I can kiiind of see how this could be okay. Also, it’s hard to tell from one trailer (without any original footage) how historical movements that involved trans people are going to be portrayed in the final piece. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on, though.

    That being said, I lost it in the parts where Chris Gregoire was on the screen speaking in favor of same-sex marriage. That’s my home state, and (last I heard) we’re only one vote away in the Senate. Amazing.

  7. Dina, yup, sexual orientation and gender are two different things (although there are a lot of gay, lesbian, bi and queer trans people). But in the 6+ minutes of this preview, he shows Barney Frank talking in front of Vandy Beth Glenn (a trans woman) and not bothering to mention why she was fired from her job and it shows Lawrence King and calls King ‘gay’ when, if anyone bothers to find out anything this case, you will know King ID’d as a girl. So, if it’s all about sexual orientation, then why even to show those two clips—-except to incorporate violence and discrimination against trans women into the ‘gay fold’ to create more impact only to ignore or deny that their being trans is why they were murdered or fired? This has been a tactic of Gay Inc. for many years. When it comes to the violence stats, donations and funding, include trans women. When we actually speak up, they then deny it has anything to do with us or that we should even be considered part of the community. This schtick is getting very old and stale.

    • Well, as I said, none of that trailer was original footage – it all came from TV shows, interviews, etc. I’ll be interested to see how the documentary itself tackles the issues.

      • (My point being that what was shown on TV about, for example, Lawrence King was pretty crap, so that’s not much to work with.)

  8. I like it, but I noticed that the other components of LGBTQ weren’t really shown/not shown enough. I hope they are present in the documentary, since this is just a trailer.

  9. Ok, look. I get that the trailer is not all inclusive… but it’s just a trailer. He probably made it out of the stuff he was most familiar with, and the full movie will probably have to be researched.

    Save your outrage for when the actual movie is released, and its not inclusive.

    Or maybe realize that the only leg you have to stand on is the fact that he included LGBTQ in his description… and in a way that could be generalizing the subject that he will be focusing on. If he had done the documentation as gay men only, would you still be upset? And if so, what right do you have to be upset at his personal choice in creating a work of art?

    Lastly, grow up. Something is better than nothing in this regard. You can’t have 100% of the stuff you want 100% of the time. IF his final movie focuses on what hes most familiar, padded with research, it will still have an impact and be far better than his not creating it at all.

    Or perhaps you’d rather none of the states had same sex marriage legalized, and would rather wait until its nationally legal?

    All or nothing seems to be your approach. Which is a shame…

      • My username is about redefining myself as the ultimate authority in the universe in regards to myself.

        Everyone should be their own personal Almighty.

        Either way, you completely missed the point or willfully ignored it. It had absolutely zero to do with privilege, but I guess one reads what one wants to…

        How dare a piece of artwork with a circle in it not include a square, a triangle, a trapezoid, a rhombus?! And every single other shape in existence?!


        /sarcasm on

        I mean, that guy only did a couple of the thousands of shapes. Hes obviously an awful person, and he completely discriminated against all the other shapes by focusing only on the ones he wanted to. It would be better if he did nothing at all, because he didn’t include every solid shape possible!

        /sarcasm off

        Maybe the above paragraph was easier to understand as an example…

  10. Since the documentary hasn’t actually been made yet, has anyone thought about contacting the filmmaker and asking if people of color, trans* people, etc. will be represented? Just a thought. I just googled the guy and he seems to be a prominent youtuber so he can probably be easily contacted.

    In fact I think I’ll investigate this right now.

    • I saw this trailer a while ago. It was touching, it made me cry, and as a trans girl it had absolutely nothing to do with me. This seems like it’ll be a great documentary about being a cis gay male, but one split-second clip of Chaz Bono does not a trans-inclusive film make.

      • I understand that and that’s not what I was trying to argue. In fact I wasn’t trying to argue anything, I was just presenting evidence I found that could be interpreted/argued either way; a point of information rather than a concrete position either way.

        I agree with the post-comma half of your last sentence. However, it would be useful to remember that this is just a trailer. Trailers, done right (this distinction therefore disqualifies like every trailer made in the last 10+ full-plot-reveal-obsessed years) don’t give away the whole film, so there’s still hope! :D

        • No I know, I was just expanding on what you said. Yes, Bono, no, trans* film. :p

          I’m definitely going to watch this when it comes out, doesn’t really matter who it’s about!

  11. I cried my eyes out the first time I saw this and immediately wanted to donate even a little bit of money to him but I’m completely stone broke at the moment (the second I actually have disposable income, it’ll be Autostraddle first, then people like him :) ). Also, I think the idea of getting in touch with him about including trans* issues is a fantastic one, as he seems to be trying to speak for as many different and marginalised people as possible – it seems like trans* (and other gender identity) issues are something that he just hasn’t thought of, as opposed to purposeful trans* erasure.

  12. “or maybe realize that the only leg you have to stand on is the fact that he included LGBTQ in his description… and in a way that could be generalizing the subject that he will be focusing on. If he had done the documentation as gay men only, would you still be upset? And if so, what right do you have to be upset at his personal choice in creating a work of art?
    Lastly, grow up. Something is better than nothing in this regard. You can’t have 100% of the stuff you want 100% of the time. IF his final movie focuses on what hes most familiar, padded with research, it will still have an impact and be far better than his not creating it at all.
    Or perhaps you’d rather none of the states had same sex marriage legalized, and would rather wait until its nationally legal?”

    making a documentary regarding “second class citizens” that includes almost exclusively White gay cis-men is not accurate, as they are the most privileged queer group.I am not upset but I have every right to feel whatever I feel towards to a work of art. Art can be criticised, and it will be. That is the nature of a modernist perspective. Your last two paragraphs don’t make any sense and smack of an aggressive, overly privileged and exclusive perspective. Disliking a trailer because of it’s lack of trans/qpoc inclusion is quite simply not the same as putting national law over state legislation.

    All or nothing is NOT the approach of many who criticise exclusivity… But how can the LGBTQIA community ever move forward if we do not constantly reassess how we see one another? Don’t expect trans women/qpoc to shut the he’ll up and be grateful that some White boy made a movie about the queer struggle which doesn’t include them.

    • Part of me wonders why I bother, and another part rages against the double standards inherent in your comment on my post. And maybe the lack of clarity into the way the world (currently) works that your comment implies also factored into it.

      Firstly, it doesn’t matter that you believe that white gay males “are the most privileged queer group.” They are still a queer group, which means they are second class citizens. Yes, they are just one example of second class citizens, but they still are included in the designation. Also, art criticism usually is about what is included in the artwork, not what isn’t…

      Secondly, I wasn’t equating the law with a trailer. It was an example that apparently many people missed, although it seems relatively simple to me. I was illustrating the example of progress happening piece by piece being far better than requiring (in this case, the resulting movie) be all or nothing. I’m not sure how to make it more clear.

      Thirdly, I really have no idea where you got the idea that I “expect trans women/qpoc to shut the he’ll up and be grateful” about this project. My original point was twofold: The guy making the film doesn’t have to do anything he doesn’t want to, as its his film, and that even if he does end up releasing a movie mostly related to white gay males it will still be progress and worth doing. When you release your film, you can put anything you want into it. I don’t care if you are grateful. I don’t care if you shut up. I do care that apparently you would rather have no progress over some progress. The idea that such a movie (remember this is a trailer, so who knows what the final product will look like) would only benefit one group is just simply not true. It may not affect the other groups significantly, but there are several overlaps where it probably would somewhat.

      Lastly, while people like to lump the community together, its only “together” to a certain extent. Many people fighting for X rights don’t fight for Y or Z rights to nearly the same extent, if at all. If you required the fight for progress to happen for XYZ all at the same time, you would drastically slow it down. People fight for what they feel they can, for what they feel impacted by the most, for what they believe in, for what they know the best. And this works. It may not be an equal progress for all of the groups in the community, but it works far faster than if the community could only progress as fast as the group struggling the most, as success by other groups helps to different amounts.

      I am done with commenting on this article and its related comments. It has become clear to me that for people like you, his movie will never be good enough. It will not matter how much good it does for any group in the community, because it will not contain each group from each community from each country from each second class citizen classification.

      • Shocking newz: He has every right to make and publicize the film he’s going to make, and people in the community have every right to criticize and call him out on his tunnel vision view of history. Weird, huh?

        This film isn’t anything new. One minute into the preview I could tell it’s the same SOS Mattachine version of ‘gay history.’ There have been dozens of films and books like this, which overwhelmingly leave out huge sections of lesbian/queer/bi/trans history not to mention a small detail like people of color. And I have to laugh when people suggest contacting the filmmaker to inform him of so he can improve it… anyone making a film like this would have had to encounter these issues many times over in their research. Anyone mentioning Lawrence King in a documentary and IDing him only as a ‘gay boy’ is someone who either didn’t bother to research King’s story or is purposefully leaving out what doesn’t fit in their version of history. Either way, that doesn’t bode well for the verisimilitude and oversimplification of his version of events.

        Sorry “the Almighty” doesn’t like it, but we have a right to criticize problematic representations of our communities especially when there’s ERASURE of them going on. That’s when it stops being a positive gay, white men movie (which is legit… for instance, there was a film specifically about the Mattachine Society) and starts being an ‘erase trans people and people of color’ movie. There’s a big difference between those two descriptions.

  13. I found this trailer to be extremely moving (there was something in my eye) while also extremely lacking the reach that the filmmaker is aiming for. Documenting “all of the hate” against “gay, lesbian, and bisexual” people (which in this trailer all equal “homosexuality”) is a very large task; judging from what is necessarily the most provocative footage in order to garner as much funding as possible – it is a task that looks unrealizeable unless we’re talking gay white cis males here. And it would appear we are. Also, if Yezak is only concerned with GLB or homosexual people, it’s a bit of a glitch for him to include footage of anti-trans hatred (the Barney Frank clip, the Larry King clip) without offering transpeople the respect of naming transphobia for what it is. Conflating transphobia and homophobia with the intent to gain help for gays only (ok maybe lesbians if they’re lucky) is a game as old as the hills, and one for which I personally have little patience, possibly because I am as old as the hills myself and have been as out as bisexual for 20+ years, and am slightly cranky by nature (or nurture?).

    I am glad that he’s compiling this doc and have no doubt that if it gets made it will be very powerful in demonstrating public hatred toward gay white cis males. I am not being snarky – like I said, when I watched the trailer I cried, I mean, had an allergy attack. If the film gets made, and if it has the focus it looks like it will, I can see it being useful in a single-minded Michael Moore kind of way, and generating a lot of discussion among viewers who might not normally talk about this subject. That’s useful. I can also see it opening doors to more, and hopefully more nuanced work on the subject. I will want to watch those trailers and contribute to those funding drives more.

  14. Perhaps we could see this as a reminder not to give into inertia and start to believe that anyone who doesn’t go though the same experiences you do should understand and speak about those experiences on your behalf.

    This film maker is speaking about what he cares about as a white, gay, American man, so I should speak about what it is to be Black, lesbian, African, and so on.

    Since I have the capacity for nuanced, intelligent thought, let me not outsource my problems. Imagine if we all made small films with out limited budgets? Imagine if we made so many that they couldn’t be ignored anymore?

    The world would explode.

    • yes, this is exactly how i feel — when a cis white gay man is making a film about gay rights and he feels no natural inclination to include women, i never feel the urge to ask for inclusion or complain about exclusion. i don’t want him to tell my story. i want to tell my own story. when i see a “GLBT” website that’s really just for the “G”, i don’t want to ask for inclusion because i don’t trust them to do it right. i’d rather they just leave that to us.

      • this is a really great way of looking at the world. it makes me feel motivated and happy and powerful and it makes me excited to see what we can all create in the future.

    • while i agree that people should create media that speaks to their personal experiences and their stories, i have a huge problem with a white cis male talking about historical events such as stonewall and not hightlighting the INSTRUMENTAL actions of the trans and queer people of color that were there. i have a huge problem with a white cis male including the story of a trans teen in his documentary and portaying him as gay and not pointing out that he was targeted and killed because of his gender presentation and identity. it’s not just about the invisiblity of queer people of color and transfolks (which is also a consistently a problem), as ginasf so eloquently said it’s also about the ERASURE of our stories and our actions, which is beyond disrespectful. and the plain facts are that queer people of color and transfolks rarely have as much funding and visibility to get their stories and imagery out there. even dee rees (the filmaker behind pariah)said it was extremely difficult to get funding for her black AND gay movie, and she was told to pick one or the other. do you think it will be easier for this guy to get funding for his film because he’s a white cisgendered man? absolutely! i think it behooves the more privileged members of the lgbtq community to try to be inclusive and make an effort to have us tell our stories, particularly in documentaries, or we’re really never going to be as cohesive as we should be. this is part of the reason why the current public image of the lgbtq community is that of affluent white cis males and it has got to stop.

  15. Although I don’t expect this chap to tell my story, I equally don’t expect him to suggest that he is recounting queer history as a whole… when really it’s just cis-white gay man history.

    I agree with what you’re saying but I think it’s one thing not to tell a story and another to act like that story didn’t happen. What he is doing will become clear when the film is made, I suppose.

    I also feel that he is some how cashing in on his own privilege by not including women/qpoc/trans folk in the film… It makes it more acceptable to a Hetro audience, when really the minorities within the queer community are the actual second class citizens.

    But hey – that’s just the impression I got from it! Not trying to shoot anyone down here :)

  16. There’s a lot of talk about lack of representation. I agree with some of that from what I saw in the trailer. I think that’s something that can be solved though. The documentary is in the process of being made, so why not take the time to contact Yezack and share your ideas along with your donations.

    • I actually contacted him and got a response.

      He basically said that he’s aware of the need to be inclusive but it will be determined by who is willing to talk to him/what subjects he can find.

      I’m satisfied by this because I’d rather he make a movie about what he knows.

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