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PBS documentary spotlights trans political candidate in Texas

‘A Run for More’ screened at more than 30 film festivals

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‘A Run for More’ tells the story of Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe’s run for office in Texas as well as her wedding. (Screen capture via Vimeo)

Fifteen minutes into “A Run for More,” a clip shows the plunging back of Frankie Gonzales-Wolfe’s cream wedding dress embroidered with pearly white appliqués. Her smooth hands are gently clasped by her husband’s. He, Jeff Wolfe, is poised opposite her in a deep navy United States Air Force uniform. 

“Jeff, I place this ring on your finger, with my everlasting love for you, as my best friend, and as my husband,” Gonzales-Wolfe breathily repeated after the wedding officiant while holding back gleeful tears. 

“A Run for More,” which has partnered with multiple organizations including the Human Rights Campaign, concluded on Monday, May 15 the 11-episode eighth season of “Reel South,” a Public Broadcasting Service documentary series. “Reel South” presented feature-length and short documentaries and used diverse voices to tell stories about the complicated heritage of those who live in the South. It was produced in conjunction with a variety of Southern PBS affiliates. 

“A Run for More” was filmed across three years; however, its storyline began in 2016 when Washington, D.C.-based filmmaker Ray Whitehouse met Gonzales-Wolfe in San Antonio, Texas, her hometown. There, Gonzales-Wolfe commanded a legion of local volunteers for former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign for president.  

Whitehouse — who was a part of the Washington Post’s Pulitzer-prize winning team for the paper’s coverage of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection — had been living in San Antonio after he’d “moved [there] for love,” and he spent his days documenting the realities of the gritty work required to volunteer for presidential campaigns. 

“I think of politics … as more about how do we organize ourselves, allocate power and move forward as a society,” he said.

Consequently, he developed a friendship with Gonzales-Wolfe that saw him document moments in her personal life, including her wedding, which took place the Saturday after Clinton’s defeat and against the backdrop of dismayed Democratic supporters. 

Almost three years later, Gonzales-Wolfe became the first transgender woman to run for city council in District 8 in San Antonio. When she called Whitehouse, he was excited.

“[Frankie] is just a joy to be around and she kinda has that intangible energy, and you just want to spend time with a person like that,” said Whitehouse. “What was inspiring to me was that she was trying to do something that had never been done before. And despite the fact that there were a lot of challenges, she was willing to face those challenges head on.”

Though “A Run for More” doesn’t end with a desired political victory for Gonzales-Wolfe, it’s a foray into the complexities of local politics, especially unseating an incumbent. Gonzales-Wolfe, who has worked in political campaigns since the 1990s, said the documentary is about “the Dos and Don’ts of campaigning” for trans candidates.

“I think it’s going to allow someone the opportunity to see my truth and be like, ‘One of the major mistakes that Frankie made was she didn’t own who she is as a person. And she had to learn the hard way’,” said Gonzales-Wolfe. “It wasn’t my ideas or what I was trying to implement for the community to enhance it…It really had to do with one aspect, which was who I am.”

Fully accepting her trans identity was an uphill battle especially spotlighted during a Transgender Lobby Day in Austin. At the event, Gonzales-Wolfe met trans activists from around the state, of whom she said she felt like a guest to their “sisterhood.”

“I’m embarrassed right now,” she reflected on the day, in between tears, in the documentary. She sat barefaced opposite Wolfe, her husband, in their kitchen with only her glasses on. “I felt for me, a trans woman in a group of trans women, I was a visitor.”

“Don’t be ashamed of your story; that’s your life,” Wolfe replied. “You can’t be judged for your life.”

Lobby Day not only taught Gonzales-Wolfe about the heartbreaking reality of homelessness and neglect other trans women faced, an unfamiliar experience for her, but also about her privilege as a passing, married trans woman with a support system. It helped show her how she was running her campaign as though she were cisgender. 

She recalled vehemently countering some of the activists’ points, while drawing on her knowledge and experience in politics. However, her friend and Houston activist Monica Roberts encouraged her to listen. 

“I was called out at the table we were sitting at pretty roughly,” said Gonzales-Wolfe. 

This and other experiences became the foundation for her self-actualization and increased her confidence in her identity. Now as chief of staff to the commissioner for Precinct 1 in San Antonio, she uses her role to advocate for issues such as helping small business and improving infrastructure, and also championing trans causes. 

For Whitehouse, this is part of the point of the documentary — it contributes to the drought of representation of trans legislators in the country. Only 50 legislators in the U.S. identify as either a trans man or trans woman, according to data from Out for America – LGBTQ+ Victory Institute.

“Trans people are having laws made about them but they aren’t [a part of] the legislative process,” he said. 

He added that the documentary is also about love and community.

“[It shows] what it means to try and understand who you are,” said Whitehouse.

Above all, “A Run for More” is a love story about Gonzales-Wolfe and her husband and their finding each other. Although wedding pictures could show this, the documentary provides the context lost in photos.

“I’m so grateful for everyone that fought for my right to marry the love of my life,” Wolfe, the husband, said to cheers from guests at their purple-lit wedding reception. “I promise all of you, and her, that we’re not going to stop fighting for that right.” 

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Photos

PHOTOS: Baltimore Pride Parade

Thousands attend annual LGBTQ march and block party

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A scene from the 2024 Baltimore Pride Parade. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Baltimore Pride Parade and Block Party was held on Charles Street in Baltimore, Md. on Saturday, June 15. 

(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Sports

Washington Mystics to hold annual Pride game

Team to play Dallas Wings on Saturday

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Mystics will be having their upcoming Pride game on Saturday against the Dallas Wings.

The Mystics Pride game is one of the team’s theme nights they host every year, with Pride night being a recurring event. The team faced off against the Phoenix Mercury last June. Brittney Griner, who Russia released from a penal colony in December 2022 after a court convicted her of importing illegal drugs after customs officials at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage, attended the game. 

Unlike the NBA, where there are currently no openly LGBTQ players, there are multiple WNBA players who are out. Mystics players Emily Englster, Brittney Sykes, and Stefanie Dolson are all queer.

The Mystics on June 1 acknowledged Pride Month in a post to its X account.

“Celebrating Pride this month and every month,” reads the message.

The game is on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Entertainment and Sports Arena (1100 Oak Drive, S.E.). Fans can purchase special Pride tickets that come with exclusive Mystics Pride-themed jerseys. 

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Theater

Queers win big at 77th annual Tony Awards

‘Merrily We Roll Along’ among winners

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(Photo courtesy of the Tony Awards' Facebook page)

It was a banner night for queer theater artists at the 77th annual Tony Awards, honoring the best in Broadway theater at the Lincoln Center in New York on Sunday. Some of the biggest honors of the night went to the revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Merrily We Roll Along” and the dance-musical based on Sufjan Stephens’ album “Illinoise.

“Merrily We Roll Along,” which follows three friends as their lives change over the course of 20 years, told in reverse chronological order, picked up the awards for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Orchestrations. 

Out actor Jonathan Groff picked up his first Tony Award for his leading role as Franklin Shepard in the show, while his costar Daniel Radcliffe earned his first Tony Award for featured performance as Charley Kringas. 

Groff gave a heartfelt and teary acceptance speech about how he used to watch the Tony Awards as a child in Lancaster County, Pa.

“Thank you for letting me dress up like Mary Poppins when I was three,” he said to his parents in the audience. “Even if they didn’t understand me, my family knew the life-saving power of fanning the flame of a young person’s passions without judgment.”

Groff also thanked the everyone in the production of “Spring Awakening,” where he made his Broadway debut in 2006, for inspiring him to come out at the age of 23.

“To actually be able to be a part of making theatre in this city, and just as much to be able to watch the work of this incredible community has been the greatest pleasure of my life,” he said. 

This was Groff’s third Tony nomination, having been previously nominated for his leading role in “Spring Awakening” and for his featured performance as King George III in “Hamilton.” 

Radcliffe, who is best known for starring in the “Harry Potter” series of movies, has long been an ally of the LGBTQ community, and has recently been known to spar with “Harry Potter” creator JK Rowling over her extreme opposition to trans rights on social media and in interviews. It was Radcliffe’s first Tony nomination and win.

Lesbian icon Sarah Paulson won her first Tony Award for her starring role in the play “Appropriate,” about a family coming to terms with the legacy of their slave-owning ancestors as they attempt to sell their late father’s estate. It was her first nomination and win.

In her acceptance speech, she thanked her partner Holland Taylor “for loving me.” Along with Paulson’s Emmy win for “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” she is halfway to EGOT status.

The Sufjan Stephens dance-musical “Illinoise,” based on his album of the same name, took home the award for Best Choreography for choreographer Justin Peck. It was his second win.

During the ceremony, the cast of “Illinoise” performed “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!”, a moving dance number about a queer romance.

A big winner of the night was the adaptation of the S.E. Hinton novel “The Outsiders,” which dominated the musical categories, earning Best Director, Sound Design, Lighting Design, and Best Musical, which earned LGBTQ ally Angelina Jolie her first Tony Award.

Also a big winner was “Stereophonic,” which dominated the play categories, winning the awards for Best Play, Featured Actor, Director, Sound Design, and Scenic Design.

“Suffs,” a musical about the fight for women’s suffrage in the U.S., which acknowledges the lesbian relationship that suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt had in song called “If We Were Married,” took home awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Score, both for creator Shaina Taub. 

Had “Suffs” also won for Best Musical, producers Hilary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai would have won their first Tony Awards. 

Other winners include Maleah Joi Moon for her lead role and Kecia Lewis for her featured role in the Alicia Keys musical “Hell’s Kitchen,” Jeremy Strong for his lead role in An Enemy of the People, and Kara Young for her featured role in “Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch.”

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