By Leslie Fields-Cruz

Celebrate Transgender Awareness Week and Thanksgiving with 'Mama Gloria'

Happy Transgender Awareness Week! If you’re looking for ways to observe the occasion, I’m happy to recommend Mama Gloria, one of this season’s AfroPoP films, by Luchina Fisher.

Mama Gloria kicked off AfroPoP Season 13 back in April. In the months since, the film has been a hit on the film festival circuit, racking up dozens of favorable reviews and several awards. Fisher's film introduces the world to Gloria Allen, a vivacious, chic and humorous, transgender woman, activist and nurturer of trans youth. 

Mama Gloria 1-01 (1)_edited

Photo of Gloria Allen from Luchina Fisher's 'Mama Gloria.'

Allen was born "George" into a 1940s Chicago family led by a Jet centerfold model mother and a seamstress grandmother who made costumes for cross-dressing performers. Allen's true self was recognized and supported by her relatives early on, which helped her find her way in the world. She now aims to be a source of warmth and community for others.

“Transgender people and particularly Black and Latina transgender women are marginalized, stigmatized and criminalized in our country,” says Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality. Studies have shown that BIPOC transgender people experience hate crimes at higher rates than others in the transgender community. Sadly, that violence often comes from people within BIPOC communities. This Sat., Nov. 20, is Transgender Day of Remembrance, when those who have died by anti-trans violence are memorialized. 

Inspired by the filmmaker’s daughter, who identifies as transgender, Mama Gloria is a beautiful tribute to Allen and presents a timely look at life and issues within the Black LGBTQ+ community. Next Monday (Nov. 22), New York Women in Film and Television (NYWIFT) is hosting a virtual Q&A with Allen and the film’s creative team. The strong emphasis on family that is woven throughout Mama Gloria makes it not only perfect to view during Transgender Awareness Week, but also a powerful film to share with loved ones during this season of Thanksgiving.

Mama Gloria is available on WORLD, as is the rest of AfroPoP Season 13. If you haven’t already, make time to stream the series for free on WORLD now throughout the holidays. Season 14 of AfroPoP premieres next spring. Details about that will be announced in February.


Those of you who are considering applying to Firelight Media’s Spark Fund should consider attending their Dec. 6 Technical Workshop. The fund will award $50K stipends to 36 established, independent docmakers whose work on humanities-themed projects was disrupted by the pandemic. Register for the workshop here. The fund submission deadline is Dec. 29.

Finally, I want to congratulate our friend and AfroPoP partner Christopher “Chris” Hastings at WORLD Channel who was nominated by IDA along with Chris White, Justine Nagan and Ericka Dilday this week in the Best Curated Series category for their work as executive producers of America ReFramed. That, too, is a wonderful series that everyone should make a point to watch. Next year’s IDA Awards will be presented on Feb. 5, 2022, at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. Good luck to all the nominees!

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