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Las Vegas Filmmaker Chronicles Pandemic In LGBTQ Community

Rhododendrites/Wikimedia Commons

A Las Vegas filmmaker says his lifetime of activism on behalf of the LGBTQ community came from the Vietnam War protests and the 1969 riot at New York's Stonewall Inn, shown after the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida.

A new documentary from a Las Vegas filmmaker looks at the LGBTQ experience during the first year of the pandemic.

Steven F. Dansky, whose activism stretches back to the 1960s, said he learned that for many, that year felt like the early days of the AIDS epidemic — full of isolation, loneliness, and fear. 

"The similarities are quite profound in the sense of there being an ‘unknown unknown,’" Dansky told State of Nevada. "The unknown is whether or not you yourself will contract the virus. So it's a similar experience of trying to negotiate protection."

Dransky said people pulled together during the AIDS crisis, something that is lacking today.

"It was a community communal collective response to an epidemic, which is quite different than the way things are proceeding in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. "I don't get the sense of there's really a sense of community.

“There are very few venues that were that are LGBT or transgender-friendly, and many of them closed during the beginning of the pandemic. So that was a very stressful occurrence for that community.”

The documentary, “Attend Me: Dispatches From The Pandemic” chronicles nearly 250 Zoom conversations Dansky held with people across the county.

He  said the film was a natural progression from his work creating oral histories, and the “idea of interviewing people, about their experiences seemed like a real natural for me.”

One of those interviewed was Las Vegas transgender activist Frankie Perez who talked about how the pandemic put lives on hold.

Dansky said, “A lot of transgender people had their hormone treatments and surgeries postponed indefinitely, because elective surgeries during the beginning of the pandemic were canceled and postponed.”

The film has received several screenings around Las Vegas, with one planned for Friday, Aug. 20, at the Las Vegas TransPride center downtown.

​Steven F. Dansky, Las Vegas filmmaker 

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Zachary Green is the Coordinating Producer and a Reporter for KNPR's State of Nevada Program. He reports on Clark County, minority affairs, health, real estate, business, and gardening. You'll occasionally hear Zachary Green reporting and fill-in hosting on the State of Nevada program.