Known for their wild street fights and petty crime around the Gallery Place metro station, a D.C. LGBT street gang is turning their lives around. With the help of a new film, the group “Check It” is going from gang members to entrepreneurs.
Tuesday, a film about the LGBT street gang was shown during the Firebird Film Festival at the University of District of Columbia.
The film follows several members of “Check It” over a four-year time span, giving a candid look at what several of the young women and men face on a daily basis. Everything from fights, robbing local stores, defending themselves against gay bashing, community discrimination and even prostitution.
The gang was initially formed in 2009 by a group of bullied 9th graders. The lived by the motto, “You have two options; either to run or to fight, we chose to fight!” Forming the gang was their way of not only learning how to come together and defend themselves but to create the family that many of them never had.
Many of the gang members featured in the film are children of incarcerated or drug-addicted parents, were in and out of youth detention facilities; and were ultimately unsure of what their future would hold.
At the end of the film, some of the “Check It” members were invited to work an event for New York Fashion Week, which fed their creative spirits. Shortly after, the group now ranging in ages from 20-25, decided to change the stigma surrounding their organization. Many of them have left the life of violence and crime behind to become fashion designers and entrepreneurs.
In July, they officially opened “Check It Enterprises." Their building serves not only as their headquarters and event space but also their design studio and clothing store.
They also have a clothing line that consists of heat-pressed t-shirts, sweat suits, hoodies and custom-made dresses, pants, skirts and shirts.
“Check It” is the only documented LGBT street gang in America.
The film is directed by the same duo that produced, “The Nine Lives of Marion Barry” film in 2009. Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer, who are also DC natives, learned of “Check It” and their stories from community activist, Ron ‘Mo’ Moten during the production of the Marion Barry film.
Moten, who counsels the young women and men of “Check It”, told Flor about the history of the group and what he’s been doing to help them turn their lives around. Flor was intrigued and decided, along with Oppenheimer, to direct and produce the untold story of “Check It.”
The “Check It” film can be found across most digital movie streaming platforms. For more information, click here>>