“No raindrop believes it’s responsible for the flood.”
Good films will make me stop and think more about a topic. They’ll have an immediate effect on me and leave a lasting impression too. They set out to make an impact and they do. Add to that, a film that garners a standing ovation at a film festival because one of the film’s subjects is in the theater and delivers a truly noteworthy speech – that’s a moment.
Such was the case at the Annapolis Film Festival, held from March 21-24, 2019. I had returned for my seventh year as a photographer for the festival, which was also in its seventh year.
The film, called “TransMilitary,” is about four people and their journeys of being trans on active duty in the military. These were not easy journeys. You are what you are isn’t always the case – regulations are what they are. Imagine not being allowed to be the sex you identify as, even though you’re more than capable of doing the same job you’ve always done. Not being allowed to be who you are, even though who you are is an outstanding soldier, sailor, Marine or coastie, one that serves their country with honor and distinction, that willingly volunteers to go to Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever and one that leads by stellar example each and every time they put that uniform on – that’s an issue when we need good, capable, honest and hardworking people in the military.
U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Peace is one of the subjects of TransMilitary. The audience went wild in the theater when she was announced after the first screening of the film. It was the only standing ovation I saw at this year’s Annapolis Film Festival and I saw quite a few films. That, in itself, was moving, but what came next was completely unexpected. Capt. Peace gave the best and most impassioned speech I’ve ever heard anyone give in my life. I posted about it on Facebook, I told everyone to see the second screening of the film – if not for the film, but also for the speech that might come after it. And somewhere along the line, I said I’d like to interview her. I’m a journalist and I know a good story when I see one.
And this is how I ended up at Annapolis Elementary School. Capt. Peace’s wife, kids and dogs were out exploring Annapolis, the second showing of the film would be happening soon and I had the opportunity to interview an amazing woman.
I’m looking forward to whatever Capt. Peace’s next chapter will be. The one beyond the military. With the speech she gave, with who she is, with the fight she has in her, her leadership abilities and ease with people, it’s that chapter that should also be very interesting. I’ll be staying tuned.
Thanks to the Capt. Jennifer Peace, Annapolis Film Festival, Lisa D. Seborowski (for setting up the interview and the photo above of Capt. Peace and I ) and Torrey Pocock (for filming and editing the interview). And, of course. to Gabriel Silverman (director and writer of “TransMilitary”) and Fiona Dawson (co-director and original concept of “TransMilitary”).
A personal note and my opinion – I was stationed at the Naval Communications Area Master Station Mediterranean in the late 1980s, when the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) raided it. Most everyone, if not everyone, in the command had top secret security clearances because of the information we handled. NCIS was looking for people they deemed a security risk, that they thought would compromise information, that they thought would cause damage, serious damage or exceptionally grave damage to national security. Who were these people? LGBTQ. They were my coworkers and none had done anything wrong. We need good people in the military. We don’t need to go back to prehistoric times. We just don’t.