March 8, 2017 | REAL BOY| Bloomsburg, PA
The drive from Reading to Bloomsburg winds through late-winter countryside, interspersed with coal mines, beautiful dilapidated buildings, and one-street micro-towns built to house the coal miners who worked in the area. There are more than a few Trump lawn signs and one HUGE Trump flag dominating the front yard of a house on a rural road. I count two confederate flags—one in the window of a home and one pinned to the front of a bar, alongside beer signs and handwritten for sale notices.
We’re white and gender-conforming, so no one seems to look twice when we stop for gas or food, but we talk a lot about what it would be like to be a young queer, trans, or gender nonconforming kid in one of these towns.
When we arrive on the Bloomsburg University campus, the theater manager welcomes us to the Gross Auditorium, a beautifully renovated Victorian-style theater with a gorgeous stained glass window in the ceiling. After a tech check, Joe and I walk across the street for cheesesteaks. The headline of a front page article in The Voice, the Bloomsburg student paper, reads: Gender Inclusive Bathrooms are Here to Stay. Following the Trump administration’s recent reversal of an Obama [advisory] extending Title IX protections to transgender students, Bloomsburg University made a commitment to keep their bathrooms gender neutral. This gesture, which I have come to take for granted in many of the places I frequent in Oakland or Los Angeles, feels like a huge step forward here in Bloomsburg.
It’s meaningful, too, for the Bloomsburg University students who join us on the panel after the screening. For the young trans man who has only recently come out to the larger school community, or for the pan-romantic, asexual, agender person who knows that their feminine presentation means most people will assume things about their gender that aren’t true, this story, this event, and the wider efforts of the university community really mean something.
Post provided by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Shaleece Haas