bashing back

Gay Director Israel Luna Is Sick of Bashing Victims Sucking It Up. So He Made a Movie Where They Stab Their Attackers To Death

Gay Dallas filmmaker Israel Luna is sick of reading about LGBT bashing victims. So he made a film about several of them who eschew the victim card — and fight back. Because he’s worked closely with the local trans community, he cast actual transwomen as his leads. And because he’s a fan of horror, he gave them knives and a revenge story that’s as over-the-top as its name, Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives. Let’s get bloody.

We know the film premieres Feb. 3, but less certain is whether his comedic horror treatment of real-world violence truly empowers transfolk or merely relegates them back into the freakshow.

In any given week, the continuous scenes of anti-LGBT violence can seem like a horror movie. On November 16, 2009, Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, a queer Puerto Rican teen was got stabbed, burned, decapitated, and dismembered by, police allege, a 26-year-old father of four who supposedly recalled scenes of prison rape and childhood molestation when Mercado asked for anal sex. In the same week, a close family friend of 15-year-old Jason Mattison Jr. stood accused of gagging him with a pillowcase, raping, and stabbing him repeatedly in the head and throat, then leaving him to rot in his aunt’s closet.

Dallas-based gay director Israel Luna read a similar story once about a gay couple that had been bashed while on vacation. The bashing left one of the gay men in critical condition in the ICU, and a friend of Luna’s said, “We don’t need to hate the bashers. A lot of people feel the way they do. We need to sit and talk and understand their mindset. We can’t fight hate with hate. We need to fight hate with understanding and even love.”

Luna thought, “Fuck that.”

“It pissed me off,” Luna tells Queerty. “I don’t understand why, whenever there’s a gay bashing, the gay community has to play all nicey nice. We’re just like them. If they hit us then we’re gonna want to hit them back. If someone bashes me, I don’t care if I’m in prison or the hospital, I’m gonna find them and torture them. So whenever I hear people saying ‘Fight hate with love,’ and ‘Love the bashers,’ I’m like ‘No, fuck that. Let’s go get bats and bash them back.’”

Luna’s revenge fantasies seem especially provocative in light of the increased reporting of anti-LGBT violence and successful anti-gay votes across the U.S. preventing countless same-sex couples from wedding—our community can only take so much degradation. So with payback in mind, Luna started writing his most recent screenplay about several bashing victims who finally get their revenge.

But he didn’t want to write about a male gay bashing victim. “That’s a story we’ve seen all too often,” Luna says. “I wanted to do something more modern and I thought ‘Whose story do you never see on the news these days?’ It’s not gay men—it’s transgenders.” And that’s how he began his most recent film, Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives.