For 6 years I pictured what this moment would be like, and here it was. I could see my parents, family and friends waiting to see a documentary about Gay Latinos in Los Angeles. What would they think of the film? Would they cringe at the subject matter? The “gay” topic was a sore spot for my parents for many years. But here they were supporting me as a filmmaker and son. Was this another turning point in my professional and personal life? It was an amalgamation of all my endeavors, and even if my parents were uneasy, there was a sense of being “at the right place, at the right time”. All of our positive energy had converged into this one moment in time…a twister of emotion, family, joy and happiness.
That evening everything behind the scenes it was chaotic and beautiful. For those who attended the pre-show/happy hour, was entertaining. I was able to catch a glimpse of the audience sipping and laughing it up in the lobby. It was this moment where I felt it was going to be a nice evening at “the movies”. As producer of GLLA, I wanted to gauge how the audience was feeling and make sure that the director was at ease to present the film. Director Jonathan Menendez seemed to collect himself at this time and was ready for the crowd. As our guests were lounging in the lobby, they were entertained by a tribal Aztec dance group called Xitep Ex. The drums banged out an infectious ancient beat as the dancers mesmerized the circle gathered around them. At that moment we all seemed to become one.
Upon entering the theater the crowd seemed jovial and excited. Slowly the audience took their seats. As I stood on the stage and looked up across the amphitheater at The Los Angeles Theater Center, I was amazed to see a packed house. On the second row were my parents and the rest of the Novoa clan…this is when the butterflies started to wreck havoc inside. As heart-pounding a moment as it was, I was floating with excitement. Jonathan introduced our community partner Ari Gutierrez who represented Latino Equality Alliance/Alianza Latina Por La Igualdad. Ari eloquently spoke about the organization’s mission and accomplishments, and most certainly about co-sponsoring the film. Being a part of community organizations such as Latino Equality Alliance was a goal of our since we wanted to be a voice for under represented Latinos…especially for those under represented in the film industry.
During the screening I was delighted to witness our guests laugh, cry, cheer and sigh, as they watched the lives of our three protagonists. Lives as they ebbed and flowed with issues of addiction, romance, sex, family and faith. Brian Pacheco Corleto, Carlos Gomez and Alex Aldaña allowed us to follow them around for a number of years and they finally saw themselves in a documentary film produced by us. I could see that they were as pleased as our audience was. A sigh of relief. Our goal was to depict Gay Latino men in Los Angeles in a very honest way. We wanted their story (our story) to be one of truth. We wanted to convey the multicultural part of Los Angeles that is very rarely seen on film and at the same time contradict the negative images of Latinos on film/television. It was our time as filmmakers to put up and shut up. Using new digital technology and the Internet, we were able to make a film that presented the voice of three men trying to pursue their dreams. Three men trying to navigate a labyrinth of a sub-culture, concrete jungles and romance in a hyper-sexed community. Because of Brian, Carlos and Alex we were able to create a film about their story and our story, all rolled into one.
Richard Corral was our MC for the night and guided us through the Q&A. We talked about production, follow up stories about Brian, Carlos and Alex and the involvement of LGBTQ organizations. We were all ready to celebrate at the after party at the New Jalisco Bar. So we quickly talked about the filmmaking process, including the follow up film Gay Latino Los Angeles – A Portrait of a City (coming soon).
Jonathan and I always had in mind that we wanted to begin a dialogue with the LGBTQ community about creating like content by other filmmakers. It was our vision to be able to present a unique film that would help other filmmakers branch out and make more LGBTQ films. It was an opportunity also to lend a voice to the growing LGBTQ Latino community in Los Angeles.
My personal goal was to help bridge a gap between gay men and their families. As I looked out into the audience and saw my own family proudly watching our film, I felt that we now were under the same roof. It became a personal journey that took my sexuality and filmmaking endeavors, and melded my dreams into something beautiful and enduring. Some people say movies can change the world, although I can’t speak for the world at large, I can say that the experience changed my own world.
Special thanks to our sponsors: Apocalypto Tequila, Latino Equality Alliance, The Los Angeles Theater Center, Corral Consulting, Roland Palencia, and film consultant Damon Sylvester. Volunteers Diego Sepulveda, Will S. Smith and Juan Castillo.