A new documentary series is soon to be released, discussing the thoughts, experiences and beliefs from some of Australia’s most diverse LGBTQIA+ humans.
What Is Love? will follow a production crew as they travel around Australia, interviewing personalities that cover every facet of the community. The result will be a 10-episode YouTube series, with each episode running for approximately 30 minutes.
Jemma Hendricks, the project’s creator, came to the idea of a small-scale documentary among friends after spending time in Los Angeles. “I was completely amazed at the amount of LGBTQIA+ content out there,” she recalls, “which I think is a direct influence on the high level of acceptance towards LGBTQIA+ individuals in the city.”
“There is also an enormous community of YouTubers creating LGBTQIA+ content. I came across Miles Mckenna’s channel; they also created a series called Hella Gay for Fullscreen. I watched it and was blown away by how informative and entertaining it was despite being so simple.”
She advertised the project on gofundme, with the goal of $3,000. What she wasn’t prepared for, though, was for the page to start trending; the project reached the $3,000 within the first night, prompting her to expand the scope of what she hopes to accomplish.
“I knew that people would be supportive but I definitely didn’t expect to hit [the goal] in one night,” Hendricks considers. “I am told, almost daily, by different people about how much a project like this would have helped them when they were younger and struggling with their identity. I know it would have helped me too. A lot of our funding came from those people who understand first hand what an impact it will make for those who need it.”
She figures that the enormous response to the project is a direct reflection on how severely this content is needed in Australia. After all, what started as a casual series between friends has now led to Jemma and her crew interviewing nearly 40 interviewees across four Australian cities.
Diversity among these 40 interviewees is important to the project; What Is Love? will cover as many issues as it can, including sexual confusion, the binary, gender dysphoria, trans experiences, drag culture and religion. “I really decided to take on as many interviewees as possible because I wanted different people and experiences, for the viewers to find something or someone to relate to,” she notes.
Throughout the creative process, Jemma began to appreciate how debilitating gender’s hold is on the society we know. As a cis-female, she never questioned her gender, nor had she ever realised the importance of asking these gendered questions. “I was initially only focused on exploring sexuality because it was all I understood,” she reflects, “but so many of our participants have opened up about their experience with gender, including trans, non-binary, dysphoria and gender fluidity.”
Now that it’s reaching a national scale of production, Hendricks is hopeful about the positive impact this series will have on its viewers. “I don’t see why this couldn’t be used as a baseline to help educate about the LGBT+ community globally,” she considers. “Parents can show their kids. Kids can show their parents or grandparents. Teachers can show their students in class. That’s why I want it to be free to access on YouTube so that it’s accessible to everyone.”
For Hendricks, the project is about explaining that, above all else, we are human, before gendered, sexed, racial or religious factors are taken into account. “If we could be seen, one day, as firstly human without any categorisation, there’d be no need for any of these battles. That is the society we are striving to create through this documentary,” she says.
“My grandfather instilled in my family that nobody is better than you and you are better than nobody. I can’t imagine how different this world would be if we all took this into our own strides everyday. I hope that What Is Love? inspires people to do exactly that.”
The series has an expected released date for late-June. Stay tuned for further news and information.
Louis Hanson has also written for the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Archer, Acclaim magazine and the Australia Times, is a student at the University of Melbourne, and an LGBTQI+ youth advocate. Website: louishanson.com & Instagram: @louishanson . Take a look at Jemma’s Instagram: @jemhendricks , and the gofundme page.