“I would love to take credit for what happened on the road to the Disarm Hate rally, but I cannot,” says Julianna Brudek, the director of Disarm Hate.
Narrated by Harvey Fierstein, the documentary follows nine LGBTQ activists who embark on a cross-country road trip from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. to attend a rally opposing gun violence in the wake of the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. Travelling in an RV during a sweltering summer, the group engages in emotional, sometimes heated discussions touching on identity, fractures within the LGBTQ community, and the trauma each has experienced as part of their coming out experience. The conversations are raw, honest, and even, at times, confrontational, as the activists try to suss out their relationships with one another, their place within the LGBTQ community, and their feelings around gun violence and firearms restrictions.
“Being in that RV, I learned so much,” Brudek says. “I was put into those situations with two other cameramen, and sometimes we were smooshed together and nobody could breathe. It smelled like rotting kimchi because the refrigerator broke the first day. Because we had nowhere else to go, we had to sit in these uncomfortable feelings. But because of this feeling of claustrophobia, this forced intimacy, conversations happened.”
The documentary successfully probes the emotional journeys of the traveling activists, who squabble, laugh, cry, and even fall in love over the course of their trip. It also examines counterpoints to their calls for gun reform from a pro-gun perspective, as they visit a shooting range and engage with a member of the Pink Pistols, a pro-gun LGBTQ group.
Perhaps most gripping are the stops at places where LGBTQ individuals fell victim to gun violence, from a campground in the woods of Pennsylvania, to a deserted stretch of road in Memphis, to a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia.
“I would not tell them where we were going until the moments before they had to exit the RV,” Brudek says. “So what you’re seeing is them processing the weight and the gravity of the situation in live time. It was like, ‘Here we are. Tell us what you’re thinking.’ And we’re getting the authenticity of that pain.”
The experience of filming, and seeing the issues raised by her subjects, not only made Brudek a more passionate supporter of gun reform, but also a better, more dedicated, and more informed LGBTQ activist.
“The idea that we are ‘free’ as an LGBT community, and that once we got gay marriage our activism is done, these are ideas we have to fight against. And after this film, the one takeaway for me is that I will be relentless and vigilant. We have to keep fighting. We cannot let our guard down.”
Disarm Hate is available on Amazon Prime Video, FandangoNOW, Vudu and other services. Visit www.ruggedentertainment.com.
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