Some of these guys wear lipstick and high heels. But they’re also packing knives, brass knuckles, and mace.
They’re all gay and transgender people, ages 14 to 22, who have been beaten up, shot, stabbed, and raped. They came together to form Check It, a Washington D.C. gang, to protect each other.
Two filmmakers have launched a campaign to raise $60,000 to complete a documentary on Check It. The filmmaking duo has been working on the documentary (also called Check It) for the last three years.
While there are a number of gay gangs in the U.S., the filmmakers claim this is the only documented all-gay and transgender gang in the nation. A 2011 Washington Post article noted some locals refer to the gang as one of the “more aggressive gangs in the city”
The film centers around five young gay black friends who founded the gang to survive in one of Washington D.C’s toughest neighborhoods. The gang was founded in the Trinidad neighborhood in Northeast and soon expanded throughout the city, according to the Washington Post.
The filmmakers say the film is an intimate portrait of childhood friends as they claw themselves out of gang life by creating their own clothing label.
“At its heart, the film explores the undying friendship that exists between these kids–an unbreakable bond that is tested every day as they fight to stand up for who they are in a community relentlessly trying to beat them down,” the filmmakers say on the Indiegogo crowdfunding profile.
Filmmakers Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer have partnered to create the documentary. Oppenheimer’s producing credits include the Kathy Griffin reality show My Life on the D-list and a 2010 documentary on the musician Diplo. Flor also co-produced the HBO documentary The Nine Lives of Marion Barry with Oppenheimer.
Steve Buscemi is also named as a producer on the project.
The filmmakers say part of the funds raised will also go to the subjects in the documentary—10 percent of funds raised will go to buy sewing machines and fabric for the coming fashion line.
The filmmakers had raised close to $10,000 at the time this story was published. They have 30 days left to raise the remaining $50,000 to complete the project.