Mexican-American comedian Louis CK recently used his fame and personal website to help promote Check It, a 2016 documentary about a predominantly black, LGBTQ Washington D.C. street gang whose members violently defends themselves against would-be queerbashers while also working as aspiring fashion designers.
You can buy the documentary on CK’s website for five dollars. CK was the film’s executive producer and also appears in a promotional trailer for the film (below). In it, he says:
“The film knocked me out. It’s so good, and it’s about these kids that are protecting each other in a very dangerous world…. They’re funny and they’re interesting and their stories are very moving and engaging…. It’s a complex film. I still think about it all the time.”
The film follows Star, a young transgender female who got repeatedly beaten up several times while in school. She eventually teamed up with other bullied queer students and formed “the Check It,” a queer gang that has since blossomed to reportedly 200 members.
Many members of Check It have been shot, stabbed and raped and disowned by their families. Many have also dropped out of school and started living on the streets, pickpocketing and doing sex work to survive. They carry brass knuckles, knives and mace and will fight to protect themselves: They’ve beaten people into comas, stabbed enemies with ice picks and reportedly made one assailant drink bleach.
Some of the gang’s members also have dreams of becoming fashion designers and work with The Jarmal Harris Project, a D.C. non-profit that teaches young people how to design clothes and market their work. But the transition to professional life isn’t so easy for some of the gang members who are used to using violence to resolve disagreements.
Directors Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer followed the Check It gang between 2012 and 2014 and eventually premiered their documentary at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. Considering that an estimated 20% to 40% of all homeless youth are LGBTQ-identified, Check It makes compelling viewing about an ongoing queer issue.
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