In less than five minutes, Maven’s short film, “Lip Service” cut to the core of what every queer, trans person of color deals with while working in white spaces: unfulfilled promises, microaggressions, and blatant racism. Directed by Juan Luis Matos (he | him) and envisioned by Maven executive director, Corey Davis (he | they), “Lip Service” is a raw and organic portrait of three people’s unique yet universal experiences.
Guests at Maven’s anniversary celebration in April were treated to the surprise short film that celebrates Maven’s mission: going beyond lip service and following through on consistent community support. Many organizations like to claim they support and uplift queer and trans people of color but few do the work quite like Maven does.
“My initial inspiration was to find a way to be able to clearly demonstrate the headwinds our folks fly into when trying to do the work,” Davis said. “Films gets people to absorb the message in a different way.”
The short film features intimate and organic interviews between Davis and Nadege Green (she | her) (independent researcher and writer), Jasmen Rogers (she | her) (organizer and political strategist), and Arsimmer McCoy (she | her) (poet and artist). Illumined under warm light, Green, Rogers, and McCoy’s testimonies ran the gamut of emotions–viewers laughed and cried as they saw their own experiences reflected on screen by some of Miami’s own cultural and political leaders.
“It was beautiful to watch it all put together and to see the threads of what we’re talking about, and how our individual stories may not be the same, but our experiences told one big cohesive story,” Green said. “Someone at the anniversary pulled me aside and told me that it actually made me teary. It evoked really strong emotions.”
Davis first had the idea in the fall of 2021, and shot the project in an afternoon. Green, McCoy, and Rogers responded to prompts that Davis shared. According to Green some of the prompts included, “what’s your favorite word when you’re kind of over it?” or “you’re in a meeting and someone said something sideways, how do you respond to that?”
Matos left the camera rolling in between set ups and technical tweaks–capturing vulnerable and organic moments that arise from a trusted and safe environment.
“The most impactful moments are really just speaking freely back and forth,” Davis said. “It’s just the inclusion of the chemistry that we all have, being friends, being familiar with each other’s work.”
Matos amassed four hours of footage–more than what the short film would feature, but a testament to the ubiquity of their experiences and the need for a space to share.
“It was incredibly powerful to know that I wasn’t alone in the feelings that I had, but at the same time, it’s also just very sad,” Rogers said. “ Where do we find peace? Where do we find hope? Where do we find joy? Where do we get to just exist without having to constantly qualify ourselves and our accomplishments and our work? Where do we just get to exist and be given the same opportunities to just ideate and have visions as other people?”
For Rogers, Maven provides a space where people can create from the lessons that they have learned, scale up and grow.
“Not only is Maven giving me the tools to do my business on my own, but there’s also so many opportunities where Maven has brought me along with the Maven vision to support the work that they’re doing,” Rogers said.
While “Lip Service” will not have any follow up videos, Davis hopes to continue a video series where people share their experiences working to uplift queer and trans communities of color, as long as they are able to identify additional funding.
“It is important to speak plainly about authentic solidarity because that’s the only way we get to accountability,” Davis said. “Accountability is the only way that we get to change behavior, and changed behaviors is what results in a more equitable culture where everybody can thrive. That’s why it’s important to clearly delineate what the expectations are around how corporations, foundations, and individuals take up space in our community.”