“So many people aren’t familiar with terms. They don’t even know what question to ask if they want to ask you a question,” Brendon Scholl‘s aunt Lynda Lopez says. It’s an important sentiment and merely the tip of an iceberg. Scholl and Lopez sit together, going through the teen’s art as well as the trials and tribulations of coming out as trans. It’s one of many beautifully captured moments in Draw With Me, a short documentary made in conjunction with LGBTQ suicide prevention network The Trevor Project. Constantine Venetopoulos, a Trevor Project hotline volunteer, directed the emotional, informative film. And while many of its great victories come from educating viewers on pronouns, awareness and responsibility, its greatest strength is Scholl—the brave and captivating hero of the story.
Scholl (who uses they/them pronouns) has navigated waters that are so frequently dangerous and deadly for the trans community. In fact, nearly half of all trans people have attempted suicide. Suicide ideation, or thinking that there is no other way to handle life other than with death, haunts so many—including Scholl’s past. This isn’t even to mention threats from bigoted others. But seeing Scholl’s strength and patience, as well as the developments made by their family and friends, all learning, offers tremendous hope.
Scholl is on a continued path toward perseverance. They found that art offered a coping mechanism that channeled identity. ‘”Art gave me an outlet for the things that I couldn’t say out loud but that I needed to get out of my system,” they say. It was this art that inspired NYC-based director Venetopoulos to make a film.
“I went to their house and I walked into their room,” Venetopoulos tells us, “Everything was painted. Every corner had a drawing. They started explaining how they expressed themselves through it. They used to be depressed and art saved them—it got them out of it.” Venetopoulos’ initial visit was to ask Scholl to participate at a Trevor Project event. As Scholl was also involved in activism, it quickly shifted to a short film concept. What was supposed to be five grew into 20 minutes.
“For me, the goal is to change perceptions around the trans community,” Venetopoulos adds. “They are the warriors of the LGBTQ community. It’s shocking how much danger there is to this group.” He acknowledges that queer representation has begun to change—slowly and for certain communities—but there is so much work that needs to be done for the very safety of individual lives. So many voices have not been heard.
Perhaps the most important moment of the film is the line, “Believe us when we say who we are.” It’s wisdom from Scholl that must be heard and applied. Draw With Me recently screened at the Trevor Project Gala in New York. The full 20-minute short will next be seen at film festivals—while the abbreviated version is embedded above.
Trevor Project is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-488-7386
Images courtesy of Ylva Erevall / Draw With Me