While trans people encounter several forms of societal discrimination, violence and injustice that cis individuals often don’t experience, Elliott Feliciano wants everyone to know that the two are not so different. That’s why the nonbinary Puerto Rican filmmaker wrote “One Night,” a romance short film between transgender and queer Latinx characters that they hope all audiences can relate to.
Set in Chicago’s historically Boricua neighborhood of Humboldt Park, “One Night” shares the story of Alex, a nonbinary Puerto Rican who returns home to receive the ashes of their estranged father. While in town, they reconnect with their childhood crush, Mari. The pair spend an entire evening together, re-exploring the “Windy City,” reminiscing about their Catholic school days and falling hopelessly in love with one another.
“LGBTQ stories don’t have to be an LGBTQ story. This is a story that anyone can relate to. It just so happens to be LGBTQ characters,” the Chicago-raised, Los Angeles-living Feliciano tells Fierce. “I want people to see that we are just like everyone else. Just because we happen to fall in the LGBTQ category doesn’t make us different from everyone else. We are humans, we have feelings and we fall in love.”
Feliciano, a long-time admirer of rom-coms, never saw characters like themselves — LGBTQ people of color — represented in the genre. That erasure is what inspired them to break into the industry and create media where individuals like them are not only visible but centered.
“Not seeing myself in films and TV, for me growing up, felt like I couldn’t be who I was. Only recently, last year, did I come out as trans, and that’s due to not seeing that representation and being afraid of who I am,” they said.
Unlike mainstream films and series, which often cast cis and straight characters for trans and queer roles, Feliciano has brought together a team of predominantly LGBTQ and Latinx/Latina identified individuals, working both in front and behind the camera.
In order to bring the 20-minute project to life, Feliciano, 35, has started a crowdfunding campaign on Seed&Spark. They are hoping to raise $7,500, which will be used to purchase items like equipment, costumes and props, help compensate cast and crew members and cover their airfare, transportation and food.
Feliciano wants viewers who, like them, are tired of seeing LGBTQ storylines end in tragedy to support the film.
“One of the things we wanted to do with this story is to see a happy ending, not see something horrible happen. These characters are just existing and falling in love. That’s what I wanted to do, make stories that show us in a positive light,” they said.
Want to watch this queer Latinx love story? Donate to the crowdfunding campaign here.