THE GLORIA! PROJECT is a thought-provoking feature-length documentary about the life and legacy of transformative civil rights leader and Latina lesbian Gloria Casarez. Born and raised in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, Gloria lived and organized during four decades of oppressive governmental policies and practices. Things like Presidents Nixon’s and Reagan’s “War on Drugs” and “Law and Order” policies, the AIDS epidemic that wiped out much of the gay community, an economic recession under President George H.W. Bush where 14.2% of Americans lived in poverty, President Clinton’s tough stance on Welfare Reform and the Crime Bill that targeted the poor and black and brown communities, and finally President George W. Bush’s abstinence-only education that included rollbacks in federal funding for HIV/AIDS programs. As she’s witnessing all of these elements intersect and destroy her working class neighborhood, this budding activist boldly took action starting at the age of 19. Utilizing the fundamental principles of community organizing, the fiery Latina worked tirelessly to support, educate, empower and collaborate with marginalized communities like the poor and homeless, People of Color and LGBTQ folks had a voice.
In 2009 after a decade of serving as Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative (GALAEI), a queer Latino social justice organization, Gloria was appointed the first Director of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia. She was principle advisor to the city’s Mayor on LGBT issues and diligently worked to help shape LGBTQ public policy and procedures across city government. Because of her efforts, the Human Rights Campaign gave Philadelphia a city status ranking of #1 nationwide for LGBT municipal law and policy in their annual Municipal Equality Index. However in the same year of her appointment, she was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. Without skipping a beat, the fearless leader vigorously worked in City Hall for over 6 years until her untimely death in 2014 at the age of 42. She left an indelible legacy of innovative programs and policies, and fleet of social justice warriors who go above and beyond to engage, find their voice and build everlasting communities.
Stylistically THE GLORIA! PROJECT will weave archival footage, graphic novel elements, animation and interviews to tell the story of this dynamic woman. The documentary will also dig into each decade and unpack the factors that affected her growing up, but ultimately drew Gloria Casarez to community and governmental work for marginalized communities.