Just Us - A Q&A with Researcher and Filmmaker Carey Candrian
May 2023 | Carey Candrian, PhD
You are soon to release the film, Just Us: The Longing and Hope of LGBTQ+ - Why this film and why now?
I’m actually a researcher -- this is my first film. My research involves gathering large amounts of data about discrimination towards LGBTQ people -- and the effects that discrimination has on their lives. For example, higher rates of anxiety and depression, substance abuse, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and suicide. Lifetime of stress and discrimination can take up to 12 years off their life. The challenge is: Broad, general statistics are hard to really ‘get’ at the human level. But an important component of research is communication: helping people understand what the research is showing, so we can make things better. This film is a way to humanize and demystify the LGBTQ community. So we meet actual individual people. It’s called, “Just Us” because this film is about seeing people who are LGBTQ as people. Just us: People you see every day, all around your community. Not scary. Ordinary people living ordinary lives. So I’d say this film is really about love and hope. Things we all want. Things that are hard to not want to get behind.
One of the folks noted the misconceptions regarding LGBTQ+ folks from years ago continue even today. Why do you think that is and how can films like this help to change the narrative?
I often wonder if a lot of those misconceptions come from misunderstanding, or lack of exposure to people who they know are LGBTQ. The misconceptions continue because they stay so general -- and get told and re-told over and over. Eventually people start believing them. Words can spread ideas whether they’re true or not. But those misconceptions lose momentum when people meet someone behind these misconceptions – a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a colleague, a neighbor. Who disrupts these images people hold about people who are LGBTQ. Part of the reason we wanted to make this film was to show the real people behind those stereotypes or generalizations that people may have in their brains when they think of the LGBT community. So they think “Not so scary after all!” I think it’s important that we don’t assume or accuse anyone of hate. Our job - the film's job – is to stop the fear before it becomes hate.
Did you learn anything that surprised you in the making of this film?
When we started this film, we just knew we wanted to show LGBTQ as real people. It took talking to 26 people (who are all in the film) to figure out the story. I’ve been surprised by two things. One: How wise people are. Everybody in this film brings such a powerful combination of expertise, life, and humanity. It’s inspiring to just listen. Two: How critical allies are to this work -- and how critical it is for all of us to speak up as often as we can, in as many places as we can, to as many people as we can.
What do you hope people will learn from this film?
I hope people see that the people in this film are everyday people in their community – people who want to feel safe when living their life. Ordinary people living ordinary lives. That’s it. The attacks happening right now towards the LGBTQ people are very real. And very scary. The problem is when you can’t put a face to an idea, it’s easy to generalize and even demonize and dehumanize. It’s harder to generalize when you know someone, see someone, even love someone who are part of these statistics and misconceptions. It does something to your heart, and then to your head.
What steps can people take to help support LGBTQ+ aging equity?
Speak up when misconceptions are said about LGBTQ people to help change the narrative. Imagine these are your sisters, your cousins, your friends, your colleagues. They’re not asking for much: Just basic, human interaction -- among all of us humans.
Where can we learn more about this film and where we can watch it?