Out Run Special Screening Inspires LGBTQ+ Advocacy


Out Run Directors S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons

On the evening of Friday, September 8th, 2017, the San Mateo County Pride Center was abuzz with over 60 community members and allies arriving for a special screening and Directors’ Q&A of the highly acclaimed documentary Out Run.

Directed by S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons (photographed right), Out Run follows the campaign trail of three members of the world’s only LGBT political party, Ladlad, as they aim to earn seats in the Philippine Congress. The film particularly highlights Bemz Benedito, a fierce community advocate who, along with her fellow queer political organizers, campaigns widely across the Philippines with dreams of being the first transgender woman to represent in Congress. Bemz and her Ladlad visionaries went from small-town hair salons to regional beauty pageants to advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ community across The Philippines and to mobilize working-class LGBTQ folks in the fight against their main opponent, a homophobic evangelical preacher.

After the screening, our community engaged in an intimate and illuminating Q&A session with directors S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons. We learned about the over 200 hours of footage Leo and Johnny gathered for this compelling documentary, how they overcame language barriers in their filmwork, and the international effort they made to understand and document queer politicians advocating for their local communities.

Special thanks to directors S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons for sharing their dynamic work with our community as well as to the San Mateo County LGBTQ+ community members and allies who made the Out Run screening such a memorable event!

Witnessing the members of Ladlad mobilizing the Philippine LGBTQ community to advocate for LGBTQ rights is a reminder of the continual necessity to maintain the same vigor for our San Mateo County community. The LGBTQ community in the United States faces high rates of health disparities in comparison to heterosexuals as well as barriers to receiving culturally-appropriate care. LGBTQ youth aged 10-24 are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts or engage in self-harm than their heterosexual counterparts.

As September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, The San Mateo County Pride Center is hosting events to raise awareness and create spaces for our community to seek support as well as learn how to provide support to community members in need. Events can be found here.

This event was brought to the community by The San Mateo County Pride Center in partnership with the San Mateo County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services Office of Diversity and Equity and the San Mateo County PRIDE Initiative

Written by Annette Pakhchian, Office of Diversity and Equity