‘Pieces of Us’ Is a Profound and Personal Look at Hate Crimes Against the LGBTQ+ Community
By Christine Siamanta Kinori
We normally hear the headlines, but Pieces of Us is a powerful documentary exploring the deeper impacts of hate crimes on the LGBTQ+ community around the world. This documentary allows 5 hate crime survivors to tell the story in their own words and how they are recovering from the trauma.
One of the things that struck me in the documentary is how the victims speak about their experiences. The survivors talk about the first time they were victimized and in most cases it happened in school. At a young age, they went through intense bullying.
The story of Leia and her 9 year old son Jamel, who committed suicide after being bullied for coming out, broke my heart. Her son was failed by the system because the school failed to protect him.
I am in awe of Leia who is turning her pain and her loss to help others heal. It takes a lot of empathy to help others and strength to give people support when you are also struggling. It is not easy and as a mom I found her inspirational.
My faith was, however, restored by the kids interviewed in the documentary. They were not afraid to advocate for their queer teacher and it made me realize that they can be the generation that changes some of these things. They understand that it is wrong and they call it out immediately.
Prince Manvendra’s story is deeply moving but it also paints a reality for most people born in conservative families. Sexuality is considered a taboo topic in these homes and the queer children struggle to understand themselves. No one is there to help them navigate their sexuality and they become confused.
Prince Manvendra said he felt confused and abnormal. The pressure of trying to understand himself and still perform his royal duties led to him having a nervous breakdown. It was only after this that he was able to meet a psychiatrist who helped him come out to his parents. He finally understood that he was simply gay and nothing was wrong with him. Sadly, his family didn’t take this well and took him to doctors, tried conversion therapy, and even resorted to blackmail.
Throughout the documentary, it was clear that trauma is not something that one can easily get over. These people understandably need a support system to help them process what was done to them before they can recover. As they recover physically, they also need to recover mentally and be able to feel safe again. The mental recovery proves to be harder and that is why the survivors need someone who can talk them off the ledge when things get darker.
I love that they can rely on each other and initiate contact with other people going through loss or recovering from an attack against them. They are quick to be each other’s support system and rally for one another. They share information and are able to create a global community to help and heal one another. Watching this documentary felt like I was seeing the beauty of humanity and the power of resilience at work. This documentary made me realize that it takes a lot of resilience to overcome hate and social injustices.
These attacks brought these people together and they used their experiences to build safe spaces and communities in different parts of the world. They turned their negative experiences and used it to put out positive energy into the world. The workshops and initiatives they have started are helping so many people. What would have happened if they chose to give up ?
Pieces of Us is not just a documentary about survivors of hate crimes. It is a reminder that love and acceptance is healing.
As one of the survivors said, hate is such a waste of time when there is a lot of beauty out there. I am glad and deeply moved by the way these survivors chose to handle the aftermath of these horrific attacks in their lives. They chose to rise above the hate and spread love and healing. They are now advocates and activists and are leading conversations to help bring change.
I love how the director, Cheryl Allison, told these stories. She didn’t make the attacks the point of focus. She narrowed down on the resilience and courage of the survivors after these horrendous attacks.
This documentary reminds us all of the power of love, acceptance, and healing. It was a beautiful way to honor the many LGBTQ+ hate crime survivors around the world.
About the Author:
Christine Siamanta Kinori grew up in a little village in Kenya known as Loitoktok near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. All she wanted to do when she grew up was to explore the world. Her curiosity led her to join Nairobi University to pursue a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She later got a job with an amazing travel magazine Nomad Africa which gave her the opportunity to explore Africa. She also writes for numerous travel websites about Africa and tries to create a new narrative in the media about our aesthetic continent.
Christine claims to have somewhat unhealthy addiction to TV and reading, as it is a fun way to keep herself occupied during the long journeys for her travel writing. She is also a believer of letting people be their beautiful selves. To her, love is love and it is the greatest gift we have as humans.