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“Humanity is not some sort of monolith where there is only one type of people or two types of people. … If we all work a little harder to kind of understand each other and put in that effort instead of waiting for someone else to explain themselves to us, the world has a chance to become more empathetic for everyone.”

– Kelsey Parente, Gen QueerZ

Open Dialogues: Gen QueerZ captures the LGBTQ+ narratives of eight South Florida students who are part of Generation Z. Produced by the Art and Culture Center/Hollywood under the Direction of Freddy Rodriguez, Gen QueerZ was developed in association with Safe Schools South Florida, an LGBTQ student and educator advocacy nonprofit.


The fourth film in the Center’s Open Dialogues series, Gen QueerZ gives voice to college and university students who are among the first generation to be “out” while attending high school and living at home. Their stories reflect a diversity of gender identities, cultural backgrounds, and academic studies while exploring allyship, threats, and the dynamics of being out at home with family.

Freddy Rodriguez
Freddy Rodriguez

Gen QueerZ also deconstructs what is considered “normal” in the gender spectrum and how being out is a form of activism that demarginalizes all queer people. The film features readings of original poems performed by Eric Martinez (“To Know Yourself”) and Ja’na Nelson (“I’m Out”).

Eric Martinez wrote “To Know Yourself” for Gen QueerZ during his senior year at Florida International University. He workshopped the poem with Professor Richard Blanco, a 2023 recipient of a National Humanities Medal at the White House and author of How to Love a Country, among several other books.

In an excerpt from “To Know Yourself,” Martinez writes:

“To know yourself is to reveal.

To venture far past your confinement.

To clear charred fields and catalyze new growth.

To demand love because there is no other choice.”


About the Cast


Doriyan Caty, he/him: A theater major at Florida Atlantic University, Doriyan performed the role of Eat Moe in the MNM Theatre Company production of Five Guys Named Moe in Sept. 2023 at the Kravis Center. He performed in MNM productions of Hair, the Musical and Treasure Island, and at FAU was a cast member in A Chorus Line (2023) and Rent (2022). A graduate of Nova High School and resident of Coral Springs, he has worked at the Pembroke Pines Theatre of the Performing Arts and performed in the 2021 FAU Homecoming Drag Show.


Javier Gomez, he/him: Javier attends Miami Dade College with a focus on Political Science and Government. A graduate of iPreparatory Academy in Miami, he received a spring 2023 Fellowship from Equality Florida as a Field and Advocacy Fellow. Javier is active in fighting anti-LGBTQ+ initiatives and in June 2022 introduced President Joe Biden’s signing at the White House of an executive order on “preventing and combatting discrimination against LGBTQI+ Americans.”


Sofía Grajales, they/them: Sofia is completing their Associate of Arts degree at Broward College with a focus in art history and plans to continue at Florida International University. A resident of Weston, they worked as a curatorial intern for the Art and Culture Center/Hollywood, leading group tours and artmaking activities, assisting with the Exposed Exhibition and Fundraiser, and archiving exhibition materials. In high school, Sofia and their crew won a Cappie award for Special Effects and Technology for the school production of Frankenstein.


Eric Martinez, he/him: Eric is a student at the University of Miami School of Law and a 2023 graduate of Florida International University. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a dual major in English Language and Literature, and International Relations. While at FIU he was a staff writer on STRIKE Magazine Miami, a member of the FIU Latin America & Caribbean Alliance, and performed in the FIU Marching Band. He lives in Hialeah and has worked since 2021 as a Talent Escort at Univision.


Ja’na Nelson, she/they: Ja’na is a 2022 graduate of Florida Atlantic University with a BA in Theatre and Dance. A Miami resident, she was a Treasurer for The Black Undergraduate Theatre Collective in 2022 and stage managed three shows in 2022-23, The Wolves (FAU), The Wonder of The World (Alpha Psi Omega Theatre Fraternity), and Stone Soup (Broward Center for the Performing Arts). Her jack-of-all-trades stage work includes building sets, constructing props, and performing for The Collective and Alpha Psi Fraternity. 


Kelsey Parente, they/he: Kelsey is pursuing their Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Mathematics Education at Broward College. A graduate of Taravella High School, they works as an interim substitute teacher at Piper High School, teaching various math classes. Kelsey lives in Coral Springs.


Ian Rodriguez, he/him/any: Ian attends Florida State University and is a member of the school’s Pride Student Union. He is a 2023 graduate of the Jose Marti Mast 6-12 Academy, where he was President of the Gay Straight Alliance student group. He is a student ambassador for Prism, which works to expand access to LGBT-inclusive education and sexual health resources for youth in South Florida, and a 2023 Nyah Project Fellow.


Nathalie Saladrigas, she/her: Nathalie is a Miami Dade College (MDC) graduate and the first in her family to attend college. She founded the Queer Collective, the first LGBTQ+ club at MDC, and is one of four graduates selected in 2023 for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s prestigious Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Nathalie is a Sociology major at Boston University and is active as a community organizer for LGBTQ rights, anti-racism, climate activism, immigration justice, and education.

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: Gen QueerZ is funded by The Our Fund Foundation, The Windhover Foundation/Quadracci Family, and the Dara and Jarrett Levan Fund for the Arts at the Community Foundation of Broward.

Advisory Committee Members

Tom Lander

Scott Galvin

Harold Marrero

H. Richard Quadracci

Kylle Summers

Thank you to the following educators who assisted on this production: Richard Blanco at Florida International University, Kohl King and Elisa Albo at Broward College, and Nicole Erin Morse and Ted deChatelet at Florida Atlantic University.

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