“There were three of us at first,” said Beatrice Winston, 18. “We were freshmen, all shy and scared.” The three girls, each struggling with her sexual identity, felt very alone in their new school. But they found courage in each other and decided to start an LGBTQ club. One by one, other teens joined. A social worker at their school agreed to facilitate the club, which
became a safe haven.
When the club had the opportunity to make a short film, through a partnership between The Child Center of NY’s Beacon Center in Far Rockaway and The Tribeca Film Institute, they knew exactly what they wanted it to say.
For months, the students met with a professional filmmaker to learn the nuts and bolts of filmmaking. The result of their hard work is What If?, a PSA that asks the question, How does it feel to be in the minority? The film presents a high school where homosexuality is the norm, and students are bullied for being straight. When a boy and a girl are caught holding hands, their classmates taunt them, “Go home, nasty heteros.”
The film ends with a sobering statistic: 9 out of 10 LGBTQ students report beingbullied because of their sexuality.
Today the group is as close as family. The teens finish each other’s sentences and often burst into laughter. To see them together is to believe in a world where kids can be themselves. “If I hadn’t joined this group, I’d still be living like a hermit with no confidence,” says 17-year-old Diamond Persaud.
On April 25th, the group traveled from Far Rockaway to the internationally known Tribeca Film Festival, which screened their film. It was a big moment, and a big statement. “Here we were in this school all together. We struggled. And now we did something good,” said 18-year-old Millie Rios. “For us, this is a very big deal.”
To see the film, click here.