Opening Gala: Pier Kids

Pier Kids is an uncut guerilla style documentary that unearths Black queer resourcefulness and resilience at its core. The film follows the life of Black Trans woman, Crystal LaBeija and other Queer and Trans youth of color at the Christopher St Pier in New York City. The unifying effects of the Pier resonate through the veil of safety, solace and the promise of chosen family. This meeting point becomes the site of intergenerational offering and survival. LaBeija, a talented singer, mother, and member of the ballroom community, navigates an emotional reunion with her birth mother and family that unveils the uncomfortable truth about the dichotomy of being both Black and Queer. Being safe in your full identity is too often a privilege not afforded to the Black Queer community. Disguised behind religious grounding, unaccepting families and communities enact homophobia, particularly transphobia—the dangers of not protecting Black Trans life ensues. LeBeija articulates the life threatening reality that many Black Queer and Trans youth who are outcast by their families face. By reclaiming their narrative, LaBeija and the rest of the cast give us an unfiltered glimpse into the Black Queer experience.

Pier Kids is an all access look at the effects of flawed social and economic infrastructure on Black Queer youth in New York. Those who meet at the Pier share the burden of multiple lanes of discrimination. We are reminded of the vicious ramifications of treating racialized queer people as an inconvenience to society. This results in the over policing of gentrified spaces and is a catalyst to an access deprived cycle of homelessness and abuse. Pier Kids mourns the reality of being displaced, while embracing a sense of home and belonging.

Q&A with Elegance Bratton and Chester Algernal Gordon.