Autobiographical queer short film depicts a multifaceted ‘self’

Still from “Fighting to Love”

“Fighting to Love” is out gay writer and director Terrell M. Green’s autobiographical short film about Marco (David Bazemore) initiating a critical conversation with his lover Trey (George McGriff). Green’s film tackles an important issue with sensitivity and grace; the discussion stems from the love and support Marco offers Trey, rather than placing blame.

Green, who was born in Philadelphia, and grew up in the city, came to make “Fighting to Love” — his film debut  —as part of a class he took at Scribe Video Center. He wanted to get into filmmaking to reach more people and tell his story. Green comes from a theater background; since 2014, he has worked teaching playwriting and theater in public schools. And while “Fighting to Love” originated as a scene in a play he wrote, Green decided it would not only make a good short film, but that it could be one part of a web series he hopes to develop with the characters.

Terrell Green

In a recent interview, Green explained the origins of his film, “The scariest part of writing this piece was that I felt I was showing two sides of me, two parts of myself at different points in my life. Trey suffers from something I suffered with all throughout my 20s. I dragged people who cared for me into this battle. I had a lot of PTSD, guilt and shame, and much of it was around my sexual orientation because I came out in a space that wasn’t accepting.” Green revealed that he came out when I was 17 and living in a Pentecostal environment, “It was a journey of bravery. I had never met an out gay person.”

“Fighting to Love” generates empathy for Trey as he is confronted with his actions, because he is open to Marco’s support and encouragement. Green observed, “Men of color are deemed threatening or aggressive, and told not be vulnerable. Coming out as gay and wanting to have a relationship with one another and experience vulnerability and intimacy, we don’t always have these tools of communication. We are told not to show emotion or be loving, so relationships become unhealthy and toxic.”

He continued, “I wanted to write this piece using the knowledge I gained that enabled me to shift my perspective and thinking. Marco is the Terrell I have arrived at now and am moving forward with. He tells Trey that Trey is not a bad person, but he had ugly actions. The choice now is to start to do better. The film is one version of myself talking to another version of myself. I wanted a real conversation, and not be preachy or hit viewers over the head.” 

“Fighting to Love” shows two people dealing with the same problem from two different perspectives. The bulk of the nine-minute film unfolds in a single take which is very effective. Viewers are getting a glimpse into the lives of these characters and can focus on their dialogue and read Marco and Trey’s body language throughout the intense and extended conversation. Visually, Green uses the movement of the sun behind the window, which changes from light to dark to convey the characters’ emotional journeys and symbolize Green’s idea of “pulling light from darkness.”

The filmmaker credits past boyfriends for helping him become better and get to the place he is at now. He indicated that he makes his work “for students coming from traumatic, and poor socio-economic environments. Having the tools to be able to say that something is going on with you or being able to talk to someone and have healthy support is important. And for many LGBTQ individuals of color, that is not being addressed.”

Green plans to turn “Fighting to Love” into a limited web series so he can show the backstory of Trey and Marcus — who they were, how they met and got to the point viewers meet them in this short, and where they end up.

Moreover, he hopes to continue to work with his openly gay actors, David Bazemore and George McGriff, about whom he has nothing but praise. “David’s speaking voice was in my head while writing Marco.” Bazemore is very engaging giving Trey the tough love he needs. He is well matched by McGriff, who has an energy that Green admires. “George is an actor I met working at my job as a teaching artist. He asks questions and picks the riskier choice. Trey is rough around the edges and George brings that element to the role. Trey’s spirit is charming and smart, but emotionally he doesn’t have the maturity and foresight that Marco has.”Folks can view “Fighting to Love” on Green’s website There is a $2 viewing charge. Hopefully, the rest of the planned web series will be available soon.