Image Credit: ‘Ode To Pablo,’ AdeRisa Productions

This week, April 15 – 21, marks National Deaf LGBTQ+ Awareness Week, a project launched by the Deaf Queer Resource Center to uplift, support, and bring greater visibility to these multiply marginalized communities. Every day this week, Queerty will be spotlighting a short film that focuses on deaf, queer characters—all of which you can watch right now.

Today’s short, Ode To Pablo, begins with a familiar scene.

A lone, young Afro-Latino man—the titular Pablo (Ian Vasquez)—is practicing shooting hoops on a basketball court when a group of three young men roll up, seemingly miffed someone’s playing on their turf.

Heading on to the court, the guys challenge Pablo to a game of pickup. But because he has headphones in, they don’t immediately understand Pablo can’t hear them and is just reading their lips.

It’s not until a drive-by shooting incident occurs that the guys begin to catch on. The group’s handsome alpha, Julian (Louis Reyes Chavez), was the one to push Pablo out of harms way, and when the others begin to laugh at Pablo for being deaf, Julian’s the one to come to his defense.

Image Credit: ‘Ode To Pablo,’ AdeRisa Productions

“My cousin came back from Iraq deaf,” Pablo sees Julian tell the others, hinting that he might have a sympathetic ally.

When the two step aside, Pablo reveals to Julian that he uses headphones so that he “passes” in the hearing world. It’s clear there’s a spark between the two—so much so that their game of one-on-one quickly becomes a passionate court-side kiss.

But when Julian’s friends only double down on their taunting, Pablo has to decide: Is this guy cute enough to justify putting up with all this bullsh*t?

Image Credit: ‘Ode To Pablo,’ AdeRisa Productions

Compared to yesterday’s highlighted short, Signs, which featured a full instrumental score and didn’t use subtitles—relying fully on ASL and emotive actors to move the narrative alongit’s fascinating to see how different films approach deaf-inclusive storytelling.

Ode To Pablo, on the other-hand, is not fully silent. When Julian and his friends are talking, we can hear them ever-so-slightly, though it’s as if they’re muffled and far away. Instead, the short employs subtitles whenever we’re to understand Pablo is reading their lips. Amusingly, the audience is also treated to different subtitles—stylized in blue—to understand Pablo’s internal thoughts, which are frequently sassy and funny.

Written and directed by Adelina Anthony (an actor whose work includes a recurring role on Starz’s Vida, and a voice in Disney’s animated Strange World), the short serves as a reminder of the assumptions we make of others in our day-to-day lives—whether someone is straight or gay, whether they’re hearing or deaf, whatever that may be.

“I wanted to find a way to shine light on a Deaf Queer Afro Latino character,” Adalina, who identifies as a Two-Spirit Xicana lesbian, said to Latino Public Broadcasting. “Not as a representative of the entire community—but as a way to enter a very personal world that might make us take pause and question our own assumptions about Deaf Queer and gay Latinx persons.”

Ode To Pablo first premiered as part of the PBS Online Film Festival in 2019, but now lives online courtesy of Anthony’s AdeRise Productions company.

You can watch the full 12 minute short below:

And, for more ways to help support, celebrate and participate in #DeafLGBTQWeek, head to the website for the Deaf Queer Resource Center.

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