“Being Two Spirit helps me walk many ways of life. Things that would be considered traditionally masculine or feminine, I think I do both beautifully and I think that that’s a part of my identity, is being able to do both beautifully.”
– Paulino Mejia, Queer Allies
Open Dialogues: Queer Allies offers the stories and lived experiences of people who identify as LGBTQ+ (Queer) and the people who love and support them. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Freddy Rodriguez, Queer Allies features deeply moving interviews and performances that focus on the critical role of allies in empowering young people in their coming-out experience.
The 25-minute black-and-white film features a performed reading by Terry Dyer from his book, Letters to a Gay Black Boy, and a contemporary dance duet by Dance NOW! Miami, with David Harris and Anthony Velasquez performing “Safe Words.”
Queer Allies is emotional and inspiring as it illustrates the power of human empathy to change lives. The stories of six community members interviewed on camera explore with unflinching honesty how parents and teachers provide safe spaces in the home or school, and lacking that, how queer youth must often be their own best ally when their parents reject their sexual identity.
Cast member Tatiana Williams says in the film, “Oftentimes parents don’t want to really look inside and see if their child is really different because the first thing they think is if the child is different, it’s something that they’ve done. So, for me, it was good for [my mom] to let me know that I was in a safe space, that home was my sanctuary, that it was a world out there and I was gonna have to be empowered from the home.”
About the Cast
(in order of appearance)
Deanna Muniz is the Owner/Co-Founder of Recovery ReLeaf LLC based in West Palm Beach. She has been an activist and educator for 20+ years with South Florida’s LGBTQIA++ community and under-served populations, focusing on empowerment, personal relations, grief, and being a mother to a trans child. She works with TransSOCIAL,The MacKenzie Project, and The South Florida Transgender Medical Consortium, among others.
Paulino Mejia is a multi-media artist and landscaper of Maya Ch’ort’i and Cuban background who identifies as Two Spirit. A Hollywood native, Paulino’s works in ceramics and beadwork, as well as painting and textiles, build upon the cycles of creation that Maya have upheld for thousands of years.
Caro Gutierrez is an illustrator and graphic designer who works as a Digital Organizer for Engage Miami. A native of Colombia, they received a Bachelor’s degree from Emerson College (Boston) in Communications and Media Studies. Caro served for two years as Program Administrator, Zine Editor, and Workshop Instructor at the Fort Lauderdale Small Press Fair.
Tatiana Williams is co-founder and Executive Director of Transinclusive Group in Wilton Manors, and the Community Engagement Co-Chair of Human Rights Campaign (HRC) South Florida. Under her leadership, Transinclusive Group was awarded in 2020 with the HRC Equality Award for exceptional service.
is Director of Donor Development at CAN Community Health, a not-for-profit organization with clinics in Florida and five other states. Raised in northern California, he is the author of Letters to a Gay Black Boy, detailing his coming-out journey as a black man. He serves on the Board at Plays of Wilton (POW) and is a member of the South Florida Human Rights Council Steering Committee.
Lisa La Monica Braun is a counselor and the School Ally For Equality (SAFE) Liaison at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High. She is Equality Florida’s 2017 recipient of the Voice For Equality Award, recognizing her three decades of advocacy for LGBTQ students. In 2010, she created the student performance troupe Living Rainbow to help members and audiences process grief and increase awareness about LGBTQ teen suicide.
Dance Now! Miami was founded in 2000 by Artistic Directors Hannah Baumgarten and Diego Salterini. Dance Now! is a resident company at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex and Miami Beach Bandshell. The company has collaborated with more than 200 artists and organizations nationally and internationally and performed in 16 states and on three continents.
Due to heightened sensitivities on this subject, young people 14 years of age and younger must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to view the film in an Art and Culture Center/Hollywood gallery.
Open Dialogues is funded by a grant from the Community Foundation of Broward as part of its Art of Community initiative, which utilizes the arts to raise awareness and affect positive change on social issues in Broward County, Florida.
Support for Open Dialogues: Queer Allies was provided by the following Funds at the Community Foundation of Broward: Helen and Frank Stoykov Charitable Endowment Fund, Frederick W. Jaqua Fund, Deinhardt Charitable Fund,
Ruth H. Brown Fund for the Arts, and Anna Bloeser Fund.
Advisory Committee Members