“Now We Can Dance” — a documentary about the Hayward Gay Prom
On Friday, December 7th, the Hayward City Council Chambers were packed to capacity for the world premiere of the documentary film, “Now We Can Dance,” created by local Hayward teens under the guidance of Hayward Public Library staff Laurie Willis, Shawna Sherman, and Sally Thomas. The film is a remarkable achievement–a moving and inspiring look into the history, meaning, importance, and impact of the Hayward Gay Prom, one of the longest-running LGBTQ youth events of its kind in the country. The film featured several past and present attendees and organizers of the prom, as well as local leaders who played key roles in forming and supporting the event, including former Hayward Mayor Roberta Cooper, Lt. Christine Orrey of the HPD, Betty DeForest of South Hayward Neighborhood Collaborative (all of whom were in the audience), and many, many others.
As well as being a celebration of a very special and unique youth event, “Now We Can Dance” masterfully and unflinchingly examines the pool of hate and intolerance that has been directed toward LGBTQ youth from the Gay Prom’s inception in 1995 to the present day, embodied in the sickening protests that accompany the event, and it brilliantly captures how the community literally “bands together” to respond to and neutralize these hateful displays. The manner in which the event’s supporters counteract the poisonous viewpoints of the protesters is nothing short of triumphant. A bit rough around the edges production-wise, but otherwise flawless in its passion and grace, “Now We Can Dance,” is unquestionably a landmark achievement in the history of HPL, one of which we all can and should be very proud. The next stop for the film will hopefully be acceptance to the upcoming Frameline film festival in San Francisco where Laurie has submitted the film for consideration, and beyond that, possible distribution to a wider audience via DVD.
Laurie, Shawna, and Sally did a truly outstanding job on the film as well as the premiere event itself. It was a long time in the works, and I understand that they had a tremendous amount and support from many, many other people and organizations, but I want to take this moment to congratulate them specifically for what they have accomplished. Brava!