“What if Vito Russo ran for President? What if Mapplethorpe got into a Twitter feud with a Kardashian? What would David Wojnarowicz do about the gay executions in the Middle East?" These are the questions filmmaker Leo Herrera set out to "explore with integrity, humor and history,” in the short film, Fathers. The gay, Mexican artist/advocate announced his latest work — slated for release in 2017 — and kicked off fundraising efforts with the release of the film's trailer on World AIDS Day. (Watch it below.)
“Father came from our community's reaction to the release of PrEP," Herrera says. "There was so much confusion and anger.” He says it made him think, "I really wish we had some older guides to get us through this. Then the sadness of how fatherless our community is hit me."
“That missing generation is an immeasurable loss in every single field," Herrera explains. "Who knows what these men could have accomplished? That's why I'm reaching out to the community to find out and help write the world of Fathers. Part of us think that AIDS gave us a galvanizing cause to learn to be loud and get our rights. Part of us think that AIDS gave us such a stigma after Gay Liberation that it really held us back politically. I do know one thing, with all these men still here, people would have dressed better in the 1980s.”
From a family of Mexican immigrants, Herrera says, “when you grow up in an undocumented family in a place like Arizona, you learn about systemic injustice, racial prejudice and the hypocrisy of America very fast. All of those experiences are going into Fathers.”
Herrera’s mother was a volunteer for Planned Parenthood, where he says "I learned about AIDS very early. And her first words when I came out were ‘Wear a condom.’ She took me to a AIDS vigil once where they carried an empty casket and it stuck with me.”
Herrera describes the Fathers faux documentary as “Looking meets Man in High Castle meets Beyonce’s Lemonade.” It will be produced witha team of collaborators including GLBT Historical Society members, long-term survivors, and the friends, lovers and family of the men featured. It will be filmed in San Francisco, New Orleans, and New York.
Also influencing the direction of the film is the time Herrera spent in a New York art collective where he worked with ACT-UP legend Avram Finkelstein (of the Silence=Death campaign),
and his role managing the successful campaign to elect LGBT activist Tom Temprano, to San Francisco City College Board of Trustees.
"The men that are featured so far are artists and activists that have affected me personally, that I was already intimate with," Herrera explains.
"I definitely would like to have a trans element," the artist adds. "But that will come later when I collaborate with our trans brothers and sisters.”
You can learn more and help fund Herrera's film at IfTheyLived.com.