WHYY to produce LGBT documentary

WHYY to produce LGBT documentary

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Following the success of its first LGBT-focused documentary “Gay Pioneers,” WHYY has announced plans to produce a second film documenting the 50th-anniversary of the Annual Reminder Day marches in Philadelphia.

The currently untitled film is a collaboration among WHYY, the Independence Visitor Center Corporation and Equality Forum, with major funding provided by The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.

The one-hour program will air in 2016 on WHYY-TV. It will explore a diverse array of LGBT narratives in five chapters: growing up, the professional landscape, marriage, travel and growing old.

“As a longtime admirer of WHYY, I am pleased to produce and direct this film,” said director Ilana Trachtman in a statement. “I look forward to creating a program that will honor the contributions of the original gay pioneers of 1965, and, through cinema verité stories, will provocatively capture the present moment in LGBTQ lives.”

According to WHYY president and CEO Bill Marazzo, the film will be comprised of two major thematic elements.

“The first is to refresh issues we explored in ‘Gay Pioneers’ and state them in a slightly different way; to use this occasion to further document the individuals who have worked so hard,” said Marazzo. “The second element is to trace for the viewing public the evolution of the gay-rights movement to today’s movement in a way that we can appreciate more deeply how dramatically the country has changed.”

Marazzo said the film would highlight Philadelphia by including coverage of the original Reminder Day demonstrations, as well as footage of the 50th-anniversary celebrations and events planned for this July 4 weekend.

“This story has a decidedly local and regional beginning,” Marazzo said. “We wanted to find world-class things of interest that were created in Philadelphia. Certainly, the Reminder Day demonstrations and the 50th-anniversary celebrations we can claim as our own. The film will help broaden this information to a larger audience.”


Marazzo said WHYY plans to cover all activities, speakers and events happening this weekend.

“We want as much footage as possible for the film,” he said.

The film will also include interviews with and footage of founders of the LGBT civil-rights movement and demonstrators from the first Reminder Day protests.

“We are going to work very hard to get posthumous material on both Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings,” said Marazzo. “Then, depending upon the relative accessibility and health of others, some activist elders include Ada Bello, John James and Kay Lahusen. There are around 12 people in total.”

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality last week, Marazzo said that such a milestone event would become a part of the film.

“No doubt the most recent major federal move with respect to gay rights would be something we want to include in the film,” he said.

After the airing of “Gay Pioneers,” Marazzo said WHYY has continued to look for opportunities to share those stories again.

“When I first came to WHYY, we had the honor of producing ‘Gay Pioneers,’ which was largely built around the stories of the elder statesmen in the movement. From that point on, there has been a serious commitment in our newsroom and TV production unit to find good ways to tell those stories over and over again,” Marazzo said.

“Gay Pioneers” will air 7:30 p.m. July 3 and 10:30 p.m. July 10 on WHYY-TV. 

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