When I decided to talk about Freeheld, it was because this week theme on the blog is justice itself – and this was one of the movies that marked my life.
After I discovered it was based in real facts and there’s even a documentary about the fight of theese two women – to which I, unfortunately, couldn’t find anywhere to watch here in Brazil.
Freeheld talks about the fight for civil rights of the LGBTQIA+ community, on which two women want nothing less than have their union accepted by law in order to have the same right the heterosexual couples have.
For a long time invisibility and social inequality for the LGBTQIA+ community (which still is an active fight, although many rights have been conquered) has killed dreams, families and dignity to live and have the liberty to be who they really are. To fight for equal rights is to fight for the right to live and be happy.
Among the fights for civil rights of the community, the most well known are: recognizing homosexual unions, social security rights, fight against discrimination, adoption and legal recognition of sexual reassignment – things which should be applied to all human beings, regardless of sexual orientation, colour, race, gender identity or any other point that differs a person from another on society.
Of course we don’t live in fairy tales – and not even those are that perfection that people paint – but when we get together to make the world a better place, we manage to change sceneries, positions and, above all, lives.
From Real Live to the Movies
The movie Freeheld – as already mentioned – is based on a documentary from 2007 with the same name. The documentary shows the fight of Laurel Anne Hester and Stacie Leigh Andree to get their union recognized by law, so the rights that were applied to heterosexual couples would be applied to them, a homosexual couple.
Hester was a police lieutenant from Ocean Jersey, New Jersey – who got national attention with her plea on her deathbed to extend the benefits of pension to her partner.
The 2007 documentary was directed and produced by Cynthia Wade, who showed, honestly, all the fight and difficult moments the couple went through – when Laurel nedded to use her last moments of life to go after what should be, by right, a simple and easy thing to solve, but because of prejudice and inequality, it wasn’t easy.
The production won the Oscar to Best Documentary and both of them – Laurel and Stacie – got known worldwide as an important part of another step on the fight for equality, with success!
Freeheld, the Movie!
From 2015, the movie shows the real story – both what was shown in the documentary as what was told by those who lived and saw everything that happened.
The direction is under the care of Peter Sollett and the production with James D. Stern and Head Gear Films. To some critics I read around, the movie is too slow – but, in my humble opinion, as a viewer of course – the unfolding of the plot is on the right measure to what they want to draw real attention to.
The movie starts telling how Stacie Andree, who is lived by Elliot Page, who worked as a car mechanic, get to know and falls in love with Laurel Hester, lived by the amazing Julianne Moore, a cop with a long career on the police who dreams with a promotion – deserved by the way, but that is delayed, firstly because she is a woman.
Hester, at first, gets envolved with Andree, and the romance flows well, even if they are the most discreete they can – because, if because she was a woman the promotion she dreamt so much was difficult to be awarded, can you imagine if in a society and the line of work to which she served, completely misoginist, knew she was homosexual – her chances would turn to dust.
Everything seems to flow well and, even with them already living together, few are the people who know that relationship exists. But it all changes when a terminal disease affects their relationship and Laurel discovers a lung cancer. Thinking on the rights the wives of her male, cisgender, colleagues would have, she wanted to fight along her partner to guarantee she’d have the pension rights of Hester when they discovered that there was no way to reverse the clinical condition.
Along with the activist Steven Goldstein, lived by Steve Carell, they go to the court and start a movement benefiting love and equality – just so we can be aware, the year was 2005, like 15 years ago, we’re not talking about the 90’s or the 80’s. The achievements started with the movements on the 60’s and walked slowly and a long time after, LGBTQIA+ still fight for their rights.
Steve Carell’s character gets on the plot to shake the court decision – that had already denied accepting their union as enough for the pension. The activist takes to the city other activists from the equality movements and, alongside the strength and determination of Stacie and even more from Laurel, on her last moments of life, they make the fight public and attracted media attention, for a more effective case resolution.
Another important character on this fight was Dane Wells (Michael Shannon), which, although presenting a conservative historic, became one of the main militants for the rights of same sex couples – including inside the police station where he worked for years as Laurel’s partner on the police.
It’s touching, emotional and tells more than just a romance: it tells a whole fight for equality – not only on the same sex marriage – but also on the recognition before society, of all people, regardless of any characteristics, that a prejudiced vision might differ a life from another.
In short, it’s an emotional production – how couldn’t it be, by the fact of having a tragic ending and being based on real facts. But also brings us certain hope, with the victory of homosexuals on USA on the fight for equality on this case and for many others that followed on the region – of course, always keeping in mind that: even with good achievements, equality is something far from reality on this rotten, mediocre society embedded with structural misogyny.
The Fight for Equality
One of the biggest claims of the of the LGBTQIA+ community is equality. But, among the many claims of the movement, we have fight against hatred, prejudice, increase of visibility of LGBTQIA+ people in all parts of society – being them on TV, movies, catwalks, stadiums, tracks, stages, lead roles and owners of their own business, among many others. On the spaces that the greater majority are occupied by white, cis, straight men, followed by women on the same situation.
“Until the 1960, being homosexual was a crime in all states of the United States of America, except for Illinois, until then a symbol of progress on the west world. One of the greatest minds of all time, the father of computers, Alan Turing, for instance, suffered chemical castration as a sentence by the British government in 1952, even after bringing advances that helped the end of the Second World War.
Around the world, many private clinics, under strong religious influence, offer services that promise a “gay cure” for something that is not a disease. Still on the 2010’s, having homosexual relations is considered a crime in more than 73 countries, being that 13 punish it with the death penalty.”– Info from the website Stoodi, translated from Portuguese by Artemis
This text shows us how cruel society is with those from the LGBTQIA+ community, during a long time – those data are based only on the United States, where it originated the parade for the community rights; imagine in countries where politics and religion are closed to those subjects and the civil rights in general.
Knowing those things gives us more motivation, being us members of the community, occupying any of the sigils, or being only a sympathizer with the cause – which above all is a cause for human equality – so that all humans are treated and have equal rights and obligations, how should be right since the beginning of human civilization.
Watch to Freeheld
As I said above, I didn’t find the documentary on any Brazilian platform to watch, but if by any chance you find it anywhere – let me know, here in the comments – and watch it!
Now the movie, you can find it on Prime Video: Link do Filme
And renting by Looke: Link do Filme;
Or by Youtube: Link do Filme
I myself when watched it, was on the late night session, by a open TV channel here in Brazil.
So Hekate tip, as always, is: watch this content and fight for a better world, so that our children, and those that aren’t a part of this world yet, might live in a worthy and more equal way.