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I work in a transitional living program for homeless queer and trans youth in Hollywood Sometimes people donate comp tickets to hockey games or talk show tapings and so we go on field trips A few months ago we got a bunch of passes to a screening of Boys Dont Cry the fictional film based on the life of Brandon Teena so me and about seven of the residents loaded up in a van and went to join the motley kids and avant gays at the Sunset 5 theater in West Hollywood If you dont know the story Brandon Teena is the posthumously constructed name for a young transgender man whose birth name was Teena and who went by among other names Brandon Brandon was raped and murdered by two friends in the Nebraska town in which hed settled and lived as a boy The movie tells a story of his transition passingnot passing sex life and murder Audiences and the press alike have responded enthu-siastically to the movie smitten with actor Hilary Swanks soft-butch boyness and crushed by the violent tragic injustice of the films conclusion Though I too was wrapped up in and moved by the film my viewing experience was situated in the specificities of my company--young homeless kids of color whose own lives were marked like Brandons with the violence of poverty sexual abuse and gender regulation There was nothing distant and removed about what they saw on the screen and the shock of viewing registered not as How could such violence take place but How could this be happening again My troubles with the film then start from the question of what it means to portray extreme violence committed against others The two scenes of Boys Dont Cry that I am particularly interested in are the one in which the two guys who later murder Brandon tear off his clothes to reveal
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