‘Born to Be’ is a deeply intimate and endearing documentary that chronicles the physical transition of transgender patients at the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in New York City.
I was invited to a screening for the new Netflix doc The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson and a moderated chat with Director David France. Read a few highlights of the chat below:
My time at the star-studded Black Aids Institute’s annual Heroes in the Struggle Gala was all that it was promised to be – a poignant night of great food, entertainment and most importantly, activism.
On Friday, August 26, 2016, Summer Luk invited a handful of naturally talented performers to Ludlow Studios to highlight the artistry of the transgender community. All the proceeds of this showcase went to the NCTE, The National Center for Transgender Equality, which is an organization that combats laws, policies, and society for improving the lives of transgender Americans. The show started with the energetic and joyful Summer Luk. Summer spoke momentarily, informing the audience the purpose of the show and describing NCTE.
DJ Annie Kissiah provided background music for the performers. Jeese Sgambati is a 19 year old producer, artist and rapper. Jesse started his act by performing his most popular song, “Lifeline.” He stated that this song was for “that someone special that may be in the crowd,” and throughout the whole song, he was staring at a girl in the crowd, which was entertaining and thoughtful. His next and final song was named “Words of a Maniac,” which had a darker tone to it. His style of music is a mix between Kanye West’s R&B style with 2010 rap music. He created the beat and rhythm of each song to match the message pretty well. You should give Jesse a listen on his Soundcloud, I believe he has a lot of potential in the industry.
The next person to take the stage was Tammy Twotone. Tammy Twotone is a stand-up comic and actor. Throughout her performance, she keep telling stories on how switching genders affected her lifestyle. One joke, started when a friend asked her how she uses the bathroom now as a women. She responded by “Seriously?, I am a New Yorker, I’m peeing now.” Tammy Twotone has a funny and friendly personality and I suggest everyone to watch her stand-up.
Guests enjoyed hearing Trace Peterson live. She is a trans woman poet. The author of Since I Moved In (Chax Press) and numerous chapbooks, she is also Editor-Publishe
An added treat to the evening was Jacob Tobia, the host of NBC OUT’s Queer 2.0 and a leading voice for genderqueer, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people.
Finally, the last performer of the night was the Host herself, Summer Luk. Summer Luk is a singer/songwriter from in New York City. She left her hometown, Hong Kong, to pursue her dreams of becoming a musician and an advocate for transgender equality. She started her performance by reciting a poem. Her poem described her life before becoming a woman and being insecure about herself. This set the tone for her next song “I Am A Girl.” This is a powerful song, where the piano plays perfectly. This is her way of asserting who she is. After her performance, she gave a quick talk about being a supporter for NCTE. She asked everyone in the audience to support their cause and to donate to NCTE. I enjoyed watching Summer Luk’s showcase, and best of luck to all participants who performed that evening.
“Todos somos iguales” the crowd chants, as the LGBT community and its allies march in front of the Puerto Rico Legislature for their right to be treated equally.