If any community knows firsthand the impact of a health crisis, it is the LGBTQ+ community. For many, the COVID-19 pandemic drew chilling parallels to the AIDS epidemic during the 1980s and 1990s. For others, it simply highlighted the extent of the racism and social inequalities to which we were already accustomed.
The new documentary “Seguimos Aquí: Pride, Pandemic and Perseverance” explores those inequalities through the experiences of four Chicago Latinos who identify as LGBTQ+ as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic in their personal and professional lives.
Produced by filmmaker David Moran of Soapbox Production and Organizing, the documentary follows the daily routines of LaSaia Wade, Reyna Ortiz, Luis Lira, and Nissa Conde. They show through their stories of activism and community action the impact the pandemic had on their lives.
“COVID was a virus, but we’ve been plagued by a virus in our community for decades and decades and decades. So this was nothing new. It just made everything harder,” Ortiz said in an interview with WTTW. “If you were experiencing homelessness prior to COVID, it only made everything worse.”
According to figures from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a higher proportion of LGBT adults than non-LGBT adults report that they or someone in their household has experienced COVID-era job loss (56% vs. 44%). Similarly, three-quarters of LGBT people (74%) say that worry and stress stemming from the pandemic have had a negative impact on their mental health, compared to 49% of non-LGBT people, and they are more likely to say that this negative impact has been significant (49% vs. 23%).
Similarly, KFF reported that one-third (34%) of LGBT adults say the news has generally understated the severity of the pandemic (compared to 23% of non-LGBT adults). Three-quarters of LGBT adults (74%) are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about the possibility of them or someone in their family getting sick from the coronavirus, similar responses to non-LGBT adults (67%).
This difference in the experience of a global health crisis is precisely what “Seguimos Aquí: Pride, Pandemic and Perseverance” wants to bring to the table.
Moran says he hopes the film underscores both the uniqueness of the Black and Latino LGBTQ+ community’s experience amid a universal experience.
“For me, being able to engage all four of my [subjects] without ever meeting them and taking this time to establish relationships, really hear these stories, it’s really what pushed me through this entire project and being able to do justice by the stories. Not only are these LGBTQ folks, not only are these Latinos in Chicago — this is something that impacted all of us.”
“Seguimos Aquí: Pride, Pandemic and Perseverance” is part of a collaboration between the Association of Latino/as/x Motivating Action (ALMA) and the Chicago History Museum’s OUT at CHM Committee.
Its premiere will take place in person and virtually on Facebook Live this Thursday, July 22. It will last about 30 minutes and will be followed by a panel discussion and reception.
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