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‘How Life Is: Queer Youth Animated’ Shorts Celebrate Pride Month 2021

The Future Perfect Project’s short film series shares personal stories from LGBTQIA+ youth, aged 13-22, about the challenges they routinely face; two new episodes drop each Tuesday in June.

The Future Perfect Project, a national arts initiative, has just shared with AWN the latest two shorts in their multimedia project, How Life Is: Queer Youth Animated, a special 10-episode short film series being released to celebrate Pride Month 2021. The films cover the challenges that LGBTQIA+ youth, aged 13-22, routinely face, such as coming out, blended families, relationships, peer acceptance, homophobia, parity, and more. The series was announced by Celeste Lecesne, The Future Perfect Project co-founder, Academy Award-winning writer, and co-founder of The Trevor Project.

The first two episodes of How Life Is: Queer Youth Animated premiered June 1 (you can watch them below); new episodes will be released in pairs on Tuesdays throughout the month on June 8, 15, 22, and 29. Today’s two episodes are also shown below.

“The current generation of queer young people has a lot to teach us about what it means to be fully human—if only we will listen,” says Lecesne, who wrote the short film, Trevor, which won the Oscar for best live-action short in 1995. They also co-founded The Trevor Project, the only nationwide 24-hour suicide prevention and crisis intervention lifeline for LGBT and Questioning youth. “Just as my generation fought so hard for the right to be ourselves as out gays and lesbians, this generation is fighting to be recognized and respected as the people they know themselves to be.”

How Life Is: Queer Youth Animated showcases how Generation Z is changing what it means to be LGBTQIA+. The series of two-minute films reveals that they are incredibly well informed about the world and important issues such as social justice, politics, and climate crisis.

“We hand them the mic and bring their stories to life with the help of an LGBTQIA+ creative team,” says Ryan Amador, The Future Perfect Project co-founder, ASCAP Award-winning songwriter, and recording artist. “The result is a two-minute look into their unique lives that everyone can learn from. How Life Is: Queer Youth Animated spreads the word about queer youth and creates a world where they are safe, seen, and celebrated in their homes and communities.”

Take a few minutes to watch the first four episodes of How Life Is: Queer Youth Animated.

CAL - animated by Sam Asher: Cal comes out to his family as a transgender man by throwing his own party and name-choosing ceremony. “I made my cake, and it was blue on the inside. And I wrote, ‘It’s a boy’ on it.”

BRIANNA - animated by Tessa Dabney: Brianna is on a mission to make sure every Black bisexual woman feels like they are good enough. “If I can do my part just by speaking up and being strong about who I am, that in itself gives other queer black women the chance to do that.”

VIVI - animated by Isabelle Sigrid: When Vivi donated six inches of her hair, everyone assumed she was gay, but she wasn’t out yet. She finds support at her school to help her live her best, out, queer life. “I wish other kids would understand that if somebody is LGBT, there’s nothing wrong with them... people often confuse something being different with something being wrong.” 

ZION - animated by Bennie Candie: Gender and sexuality have never been heavy topics for Zion, who grew up with a white, lesbian mom and a Black activist father. “I’m a radical bad bitch with a sweet side who gives good hugs.”

According to Lecesne and Amador, “We founded The Future Perfect Project, which offers true storytelling and songwriting workshops to LGBTQ+ Youth and allies, because we believe that the self-expression of queer and allied youth is a declaration of a better future for us all. One of our goals has always been to provide youth with the space and the encouragement to speak their truth.  Last year, when it became clear that we could no longer travel the country, we decided that in addition to offering online creative workshops, we would begin to amplify the voices of queer youth to audiences who may not otherwise be in contact with the young people of today.”

“Our hope is that young people all over the world will recognize their own triumphs and struggles in these animations, and will be encouraged to be themselves,” Lecesne continues. “At the same time, we hope that parents, teachers and educators will see that this isn't some old narrative about ‘struggling with sexuality.’ For youth of today, this is just HOW LIFE IS.”

In producing the shorts, matching the identity of each young person with their animator was a top priority.  The Future Perfect initiated an extensive search process to find animators who aligned closely with the subjects of the interview in terms of their race, gender, and sexual identity. The animators worked to find the perfect expression of each young person’s experience.  After the animation was complete, it was sent off to a composer who created an original score.  The result is a hyper-collaborative expression of each young person’s unique voice and an overview of this generation of queer youth.  Every animator on How Life Is: Queer Youth Animated identifies as LGBTQIA+.

“We work closely with the youth who are a part of our workshops and through those relationships, we are able to build bonds of trust,” Amador explains. “Interviews are set up with those youth who want to tell their stories, and our team at FPP conducts a one-hour interview.  Our primary media producers, Julie Novak and Emma Jayne Seslowsky, are responsible for editing their recorded story to a brilliant byte-sized two-minute audio piece, which is then mixed by our in-house sound editor, Bryn Bliska.  After a long search to find the right animator and composer, the audio clip is sent digitally to the animator.  Our producers are in close contact with the animators throughout their process. Once the animation is complete, we pass it along to the composer to score. The final product is then shared with the subject of the animation for their approval.” 

One of the projects main challenges has been finding animators and composers who identify in the same way as the young person, which, Lecesne notes, required a “deep search on the internet, and a lot of patience to keep the search going.”  Deciding how best to balance the audio between the original scores and the young persons’ voices was also a challenge. “We used a focus group to figure out how music could be best used to accompany the speech,” Amador adds.

The Future Perfect Project produces an array of multimedia projects created to amplify the voices of LGBTQIA+ youth. In addition to their media projects, FPP offers free, grant-funded online writing, arts, and performance workshops to LGBTQIA+ youth and allies providing them with opportunities to express themselves.

In a recent study, The Trevor Project revealed that more than one in five LGBTQIA+ youth in the United States identify as a sexual orientation other than gay, lesbian, or bisexual, noting, “It is a whole new world in which LGBTQIA+ youth are using terms like queer, tri-sexual, omnisexual, or pansexual to describe their identity.”

The Future Perfect Project is focused on providing this new next generation of LGBTQIA+ and questioning young people with the tools to share what they know, what they feel, what they see, and what they see for a future in which every person gets to be perfectly and fully themselves.

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.

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