WATCH: Pier Kids
By John Hutt
Pier Kids, a documentary by first-time director Elegance Bratton, follows the plight of black LGBTQ homeless youth in New York City. The name originates from the youth population that congregates along Christoper Street in New York City's Greenwich Village and the surrounding piers during the nights and weekends. As many may be aware (but ignore), some of them sell their bodies for money, some of them are strung out on dope; all of them are treated unequally by a society that refuses to accept them, and refuses to help them.
Although the film contains interviews from many people living on the streets, it focuses on the lives of four pier kids, Casper Thorne, Desean Leviticus, Krystal Dixon, and Elegance Bratton (who is also the director). The film follows the trials and tribulations they go through every day and addresses issues surrounding gender identity, and what it means to be queer and forced onto the street. On a larger level, the film shines a light on what we don't want to see, forcing us to acknowledge that the circumstances of gay, and especially transgender homeless is something that is not on par with the regular, awful though it is, homeless situation.
Bratton's film asks (and hopefully will answer) questions about what could be done to fix the situation. The streets are safer than homeless shelters for the queer youth -– so where are the safe places for these individuals? Where is the free healthcare for those who work the sex trade, and black LGBTQs are statistically at the highest risk for HIV/AIDS. (For more information on the Ali Forney, which offers services, visit the website.)
The film also shows the unjust police profiling of queer black kids in the West Village and the surrounding areas. With countless stories of people of color being stopped and frisked, an issue in the New York City mayoral election, but LGBTQ kids also have their condoms confiscated; forcing the kid to go unprotected all night—or not eat. The excuses come from the police as 'wrong place and the wrong time,'—but Pier Kids helps show that the story is far more complicated.
Watch the preview below and donate to support the making of this important film: