We Live Here: The Midwest Review

Some days it is strange to think that there are people in this country that are bothered by who someone loves or what they identify as. When you spend your entire life with a particular mindset, you tend to think that everyone thinks like you and should not have any issues with it. I grew up having friends that identified as gay and knew people who changed genders but I never thought any thing was wrong with that. I saw them for who they were and that was the entire basis of our friendships: they were good people and they were my friends.

In the new documentary, We Live here: The Midwest, the filmmakers, Melinda Maerker, and David Clayton Miller , want to get the message out to the entire country that these people who are targeted by those in office are regular people. These are parents, teachers, veterans, and members of Congress, who just want to live a normal life and not worry about their rights being taken away by someone that fears them. Throughout this documentary we meet families and hear their stories of bullying, being ostrazised, and resilience as they do what’s best for their family.

With around 400 anti-queer laws in legislation, director Melinda Maerker, states that the 2016 election was the basis for creating this documentary to show how these new laws were affecting families and to what degree they were affecting them. The documentary helps the viewers see how all of the families are no different than you and I and should not be treated any different. We do see how getting to know people can have a positive impact on people’s ideas of queer couples.

Courtesy of Cindy Naber

In the segment featuring Monte and Mario, two queer black men living in Nebraska, we see how they developed a close friendship with their neighbors who are supporters of 45. While this may be hard to believe but by getting to know the men they looked past their relationship and just accepted them for who they were. It’s a beautiful thing to see that by getting to know people your feelings can change. Hopefully, more people will follow this lead and start talking to those around them. We wish that dialogues can begin and maybe this will slowly begin to change the laws in the country.

While this idea of may sound a little farfetched it is not without merit that just talking to someone opens a new world for you and hopefully it will also expand your mind. The hope is by seeing the people that are affected by the anti-queer laws, those in power might just change their mind about supporting them. We Live Here: The Midwest is an important documentary that needs to be seen and talked about afterwards.

Courtesy of Cindy Naber

We were lucky to talk to the filmmakers of the documentary, Melinda Maerker, and David Clayton Miller along with some of the families about the documentary, being involved with this project, and whether will we see more families in future documentaries. Watch the great conversation below!

Final Thoughts: We Live Here: The Midwest is a powerful documentary that needs to be seen by everyone. The documentary shows that we are all the same and no one should be treated any less equally due to who they love or what gender they identify with. This documentary will hopefully get more people to side with those of the LGBTQ+ communities and help fight for their rights everywhere in this country.

Kid-Friendly: This documentary is great for all children to see that everyone is the same and should always be treated equally. Families should have conversations with their children after watching the documentary to try to answer any questions they may have. This documentary is a must-see and will hopefully change the mindset of some people in this country.

Violence: There is no violence in this documentary but the stories that some of these families share regarding their treatment are sad.

All families must confront challenges, every day. But many also face a rising tide of discrimination and hate in their churches, schools, and even their own neighborhoods.

“We Live Here: The Midwest” profiles families who hope to stay in a part of the country they love, and where they have often established deep roots: a trans/queer family with five children in Iowa must find a new community after being expelled from their church; a gay Black couple with a young daughter test the line of acceptance in Nebraska; a lesbian couple homeschool their bullied son on a farm in Kansas; a gay teacher in Ohio creates a safe space for LGBTQIA+ students; and a couple in Minnesota struggles to rebuild their families following both of their transitions. Meanwhile, Minnesota State Representative and queer mother, Heather Keeler, brings LGBTQIA+ rights to the political forefront despite ongoing death threats. Fundamentally, the film captures a crucial time where anti-queer legislation and sentiment is rapidly multiplying across the country, and the values of all midwestern families are put to the ultimate test.

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