How many times do you see a homeless person on the street begging for money? When we see the face of homelessness, sometimes we think about druggies, alcoholics and mentally ill people. With these prejudices, many are blind to the staggering numbers of homeless children who live on the streets of North America.
The face of homelessness is versatile. Almost 700,000 LGBTQIA+ children become homeless in America alone. 42% of LGBTQIA+ say that the community that they live in is not accepting of homosexuality (http://www.hrc.org/youth). Unfortunately, LGBTQIA+ young adults are twice as likely to experience sexual abuse and assault from their peers. It is also a horrifying fact that children are kicked out of their home by their homophobic family, or choose to leave due to unbearable living conditions.
I never knew that until recently when I connected with Sherry Kelly, a Producer at MC Productions who is currently working on raising funding for an indie film called A Place Called Home. The film is based on the life of a young lesbian teenager who ends up alone and homeless while struggling with her homosexuality. This is a story of many of our LBGTQIA+ youth as they struggle with rejection from their families and community.
Sherry is the Owner and Producer for MC Productions. MC Productions is an L.A. based independent film production company dedicated to producing thoughtful, intelligent, highly entertaining & unique feature films and web series. I was honored that Sherry had a vision in which she wished to represent our LGBTQIA+ community in a realistic light- no matter how tragic.
Anytime I have the opportunity to see a film that adds more than entertainment value and ridiculous ideologies of the queer image, I pay attention and do what I can to share the information. I know that I am not the only queer person who is exasperated with the image of frivolous homosexual promiscuity and irresponsibility that is promoted by standardized entertainment and media outlets.
I reached out to Sherry to discuss her upcoming film, A Place Called Home because I am excited that this film is in the works. Currently, it is in the funding phase. I met Sherry remotely via Skype for our interview. One thing that I appreciate about her is her passionate commitment to seeing this film made. For Sherry, it is not about a movie, it is about using art to represent truth through film. As we spoke, I could hear her sincerity as she passionately discussed the tragic plight of these children. She was humble and yet fierce as she advocated for these children during our interview.
ALETHEA: I admire the fact that you have put so much into creating A Place Called Home. Can you tell me and my readers what that has been like?
SHERRY: A Place Called Home is my first film. It tells the story of Ally, a 16-year-old who struggles with her sexuality and the consequences she faces as a result. I had to find a writer who understood what I wanted to do. That took a lot of research. I spent a lot of time meeting and talking to a lot of writers. I finally found Dio Anthony who is a great young writer whose own personal story allowed him to connect to the characters that I created. From the time of my initial research to outlining the story to creating and refining characters – it literally took years. There were times, right from the beginning, when I would put it away for a little while and go back to it. I really wanted it to be the best it could be no matter how long it took.
ALETHEA: Can you tell me what motivated you to become a voice for the plight of homeless LGBTQ youth?
SHERRY: When I initially began hearing the news reports about LGBTQ kids being bullied and the resulting suicides, I began researching bullying. It was in doing that research that I literally stumbled upon homeless LGBTQ youth and started to realize how much I didn’t know (like 99% of the population) – the harshness of the reality of their lives. A harshness that is realistically portrayed in A Place Called Home. I was motivated to learn more. I learned that more than six hundred thousand LGBTQ youth become homeless every year and approximately 40% of them are forced to leave their homes due to hostility and, sometimes, physical abuse from their own families. There are shelters, but LBGTQ kids are systematically rejected and turned away because of their sexuality. And, not only are they often physically abused by their peers but also by the shelter staff. They, more often than not, trade sex for a bed. It really speaks volumes when trading sex for a place to sleep is preferable to a free shelter bed. It was always so heartbreaking and hard for me to read these stories. I really took them to heart. I knew I wanted to find a way to be a voice for these children. It’s amazing how many people have absolutely no idea what’s going on with these kids and even more shocking is how many who don’t want to know. And, I get it. Teen sex is uncomfortable for many, but LGBTQ kids having sex is just beyond the pale for even more. But, it is a reality, and the solution is not to throw them away and leave them to die in the streets. And die they do – 6 every single day. If I can be a voice that reaches hearts and minds through my film, I would feel that I am doing justice for these kids. And, it all will have been worth it.
ALETHEA What kind of fundraising strategies are being used at this time for A Place Called Home?
SHERRY: As of now, I have tried getting the word out to different LGBT support communities, universities. I am using social media as much as possible but, unfortunately, I’m not getting the response that I need to move forward with production. It takes time and I don’t want to start on production until we meet our budget because nothing would be more frustrating than running out of money half-way through production. I don’t want to compromise the quality of this film in any way. I want to hire the best talent that I can find to do this script justice. These children deserve a film that will tell their story with a high standard of quality.
ALETHEA: I noticed that there are opportunities for people to help raise money for A Place Called Home while earning money for themselves. Can you tell me how that works?
SHERRY: Yes, anyone can become an Independent Fundraising Associate and develop their own fundraising strategies that assist in the funding of the film and keep 20% of the money they raise.
ALETHEA: What ways do you feel that people can contribute even if they do not have the funds to give a monetary contribution?
SHERRY: Sometimes people are not financially able to donate and I understand that. One way they can help is by sourcing friends, family or neighbors. Get the word out. Even if you cannot afford to donate, please ask someone else to. Any contribution is sincerely appreciated and means a lot to the making of this film. Contributors can go to my FaceBook page [facebook.com/apchthemovie] to make a donation and watch our video clips. If you are interested in helping raise funds for A Place Called Home, please Message me.
I was grateful to meet such a caring and sincere visionary. She was so passionate that the intensity in her voice came from a powerfully emotional space that resonated with me as a caring human being.
At some point in our lives, the media propagandized our society and made us believe that the world is cruel and insensitive. We have been conditioned to believe that we need to protect ourselves by not giving anything away. We have been told that we should not trust or support our people. There are laws that ban us from feeding the homeless and yet, we can feed ducks at a pond. Sometimes I forget that I am here to help other people and then I am blessed to meet someone who shows me how I can contribute to supporting my fellow human beings.
Let’s take a step to promote this vision together to help bring awareness to the plight of our LGBTQIA+ children here in America.
For more information about the making of A Place Called Home, please visit facebook.com/apchthemovie to watch the teaser trailer. If you’re a Twitter person, you can also visit https://twitter.com/APCHTheMovie?s=01. You can donate as little as $5.00 to help support the production of this film, just send a message to Sherry. I know that it is easy to move past such a request, but please consider that every dollar counts toward our movement and voice representation. We can only see the world change if we are a part of the change.