Home / CULTURE / Docuseries ‘We’ve Been Around’ celebrates the previously untold stories of transgender pioneers in history

Docuseries ‘We’ve Been Around’ celebrates the previously untold stories of transgender pioneers in history

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PRESENTED BY FOCUS FEATURES
FROM EMMY NOMINATED DIRECTOR RHYS ERNST (PRODUCER OF AMAZON’S TRANSPARENT)
WATCH ALL SIX EPISODES: www.wevebeenaround.com

Los Angeles, June 23, 2016 — Emmy Award-nominated director Rhys Ernst (producer of Amazon’s Transparent) has unveiled a new docuseries We’ve Been Around, which celebrates the previously untold stories of transgender pioneers in history. “With this series,” Ernst says, “I wanted to look towards my own trans history and forbearers to see where I came from and where we’re headed.”

We’ve Been Around, created by Ernst and up for Emmy consideration, is a six-episode docuseries. Each episode is approximately five minutes.

Series information, and episodes can be viewed at www.wevebeenaround.com

With a dynamic mixture of archival footage, live action, and animation tailored to each particular story, the series moves through history from Civil War battlefields to prohibition era brothels, from the East Village to San Francisco at the height of the AIDS epidemic, telling stories of pioneers who lived authentically – long before the world knew the word “transgender.”

To research, produce, and create these six important films, Ernst teamed up with producer Christine Beebe and a number of creative collaborators from the transgender community. “All films take a village but this one took many villages. It was a very collaborative process where I really tried to engage the community. We brought on trans collaborators for all kinds of different roles and involved numerous people of color to make sure the storytelling and perspectives were as diverse as possible,” Ernst says. From the narrators to the composer to the animator, the series was made with a breadth of talent from the trans community. The creative team includes Transparent actress Alexandra Billings; writer and filmmaker Susan Stryker; activist Riki Wilchins, trans historian Monica Roberts, animator Clyde Petersen and composer Jules Gimbrone. More information on the creative team is at http://www.wevebeenaround.com/team/.

“The series couldn’t be more timely,” Ernst continues. “The issue of trans inclusion is now more relevant than ever with the fervor of anti-trans laws such as HB2 and several other bills popping up across the country. American culture and politics owe a huge, often overlooked debt to trailblazers who paved the way.”

The six films, each running approximately 5 minutes, are as follows:

  • Albert Cashier illuminates the 19th century trailblazing of Albert Cashier, a transgender man who fought in the Civil War.
  • Lucy Hicks Anderson was a woman of color who thrived during Prohibition and stood her ground to protect her marriage rights after being exposed as a transgender woman.
  • Little Axe profiles trans man Wilmer Broadnax, a popular gospel singer known as “Little Axe,” and his brother Willie Broadnax, as they sang their way to success from the 1940s to the 1970s.
  • Lou Sullivan is about a pioneering transgender gay man and AIDS activist.
  • S.T.A.R. follows Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson and Sylvia Rivera’s rise from the Stonewall riots to create a modern day trans movement.
  • Amid the punk ethics of the 1990s identity politics, trans activists Leslie Feinberg and Riki Wilchins spearhead a movement to protest the trans-exclusionary policy of a women’s music festival in CAMP TRANS.

Executive Producer Giulia Caruso says “At Nonetheless, we want to make films that broaden and deepen the audience’s perception of the world, and We’ve Been Around does that beautifully. It’s poetic, heart-breaking, educational, inspiring. We learned so much by making this important series and it’s our duty to keep sharing these stories as a response to transphobia and homophobia.”

“We are very proud to be part of this series” says Executive Producer Jelayne Miles. “The Camp Trans film is especially significant for me because it features Leslie Feinberg whom I knew and marched with. My company is making a feature film based on Leslie’s flagship novel Stone Butch Blues, furthering the charge to fight transphobia with trans voices.”

Ernst concludes, “The trans movement may be making headlines, but our rich history is often overlooked. Trans people have always existed, and have lived many different lives. The central theme of We’ve Been Around is stated in the title. We’ve been here, throughout time, often hidden in plain sight. These stories show us just how important it is to share our histories.”

The series is presented by Focus Features, a Nonetheless Production in association with 11B Productions.

We’ve Been Around premiered on The Advocate.com and is up for Emmy consideration.

The series can be found at www.wevebeenaround.com.

Rhys Ernst Bio:
Rhys Ernst is a filmmaker and artist. His work investigates transgender identity in the context of larger narratives, and seeks to develop and expand the portrayal of trans lives in media. He is a Producer of Amazon’s “Transparent” and created the title sequence for the series. Ernst was nominated for a 2015 Emmy Award for directing and producing the webseries “Transparent: This Is Me,” which won a Special Recognition GLAAD Award. In 2016 he teamed up with Focus Features to create the online series “We’ve Been Around,” a collection of short films on transgender pioneers.

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