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Documentary “Pier Kids” Records the Lives and Struggles of Homeless Queer and Trans Youth of Color in New York

Elegance Bratton
Filmmaker Elegance Bratton's documentary "Pier Kids" documents the lives and struggles of homeless queer and trans youth of color at the Christopher Street Pier in New York.

The multi award-winning documentary “Pier Kids” details the lives and struggles of homeless queer trans youth of color centered around the historic Christopher Street Pier in New York. Edited from 400 hours of video footage shot over five years by filmmaker and director Elegance Bratton, the film provides an intimate portrait of a community striving for autonomy and security in the face of financial precariousness, homophobia, police brutality, and discrimination. It’s a community that’s largely been ignored, even by the broader queer social justice movement. Bratton, himself, was once a homeless queer youth of color at the Chelsea piers after being kicked out of his own home at 16 for being gay.

More than half of America’s homeless youth are LGBT, and of those, 40% are queer youth of color. The film is now on WGCU-TV via POV, which is the longest-running independent documentary showcase on American television.

We explore the film with Bratton and producer Chester Algernol Gordon ahead of a series of community screening and discussion events in the coming weeks.

If you go:

  • “Pier Kids” Screening & Discussion with WGCU’s Cary Barbor and Naples Pride Queer Qulture Qlub’s Victor Orozco, Wednesday, Oct. 27 from 6-8 p.m. at Naples Pride Center, 2248 Airport-Pulling Rd. S. Naples, FL 34112
  • “Pier Kids” inspired SWFL LGBTQ Youth: Educational Workshop with WGCU’s John Davis as moderator, in partnership with Naples Pride, Visuality and the David Lawrence Center for LGBTQ youth, their families and others who support them on the issues and challenges they face and how to support them at the community level. The workshop takes place Nov. 10 from 6-8 p.m. at the Myra Janco Daniels Public Media Building on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33965