Family Acceptance on the Big Screen

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June 18, 2015
Filming El canto del colibrí

Lambda Legal’s Community Educator Marco Castro-Bojorquez is also a filmmaker. His new documentary, El canto del colibrí (The Hummingbird’s Song), tells the story of Latino immigrant fathers and their LGBT children as they come out. The film will have its world premiere at the prestigious Frameline 39: the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival on Saturday, June 20 at 1:20 PM. Here he answers questions about the film.

Your new documentary seems to hit close to home. What inspired you to make this film?

The sad part of my story is that I said goodbye to my family when I was 13 for fear of being rejected. I left my town to study at a larger city and my destiny took me to San Francisco. At some point, I started working with LGBTQ young people and my job was to help them become leaders. That made me think about my own experience, and it all came to that day when I decided to move far away from my family. I lived with my family only 13 years of my life. Why? I think that it’s within the family that bullying can initially happen. This documentary was made with the goal of contributing in a super-positive way to family acceptance of young LGBTQ people in our Latino communities.

Your previous documentary, the short film Tres gotas de agua (Three Waterdrops), was solely focused on immigrant Latinas who are mothers of LGBTQ children. Why focus on Latino fathers on this film?

People were always asking us, “Why only mothers? Where are the fathers?” This documentary came about in part as a response to the audience. At the same time, I had also started a pilot program at Lambda Legal called “Transforming the Margins,” focused entirely on the immigrant experience and family acceptance of LGBTQ Latinos. There’s definitely common ground between my daytime job and this film.

You sound rather busy. How did you get El canto del colibrí done?

The entire crew has full-time jobs and 80 percent of us worked on the film as volunteers. We worked for almost three years on this project. That’s how it went from being a short film to a feature-length documentary. The production process was beautiful. We would visit families who didn’t know us and they would open their doors and their hearts to us. We got to meet all these Latino men who think of themselves as the head of their families and who showed us that their love for their children is stronger than any label.

Did it make you think about your relationship with your own father?

There was a lot of heartbreak during the process of making the film. About 90 percent of the fathers we interviewed had experienced violence and abandonment as kids. It was amazing to see how they broke the cycle. Even though I had left when I was 13, by the time I was 18, I was financially independent. This impressed my father along with the fact that I was a very good student. He also softened a bit as he got older. During post-production, I learned that my own father was gravely sick and I had to go to Mexico immediately. He was in the hospital for two weeks. I stayed with him until the very end. He never saw the final product, but I told him about it. I’ll treasure that moment.

Lambda Legal is co-sponsoring the world premiere of El canto del colibrí, which will take place on Saturday, June 20 at 1:20 PM. Click here for information and tickets. Lambda Legal's short documentary, Flying Solo, about 94 year old transgender veteran and pilot Robina Asti, is also screening at Frameline 39 on Sunday, June 21 and Monday, June 22. Click here for more information.

For more information for family and friends of LGBTQ teens and young adults, visit Know Your Rights: Teens and Young Adults, available in English and en español.