Sundance: GLAAD and The Black List Join Forces to Promote LGBTQ Screenplays

Sarah Kate Ellis speaks onstage at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards - Getty -H 2019
J. Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD

The GLAAD List will put the spotlight on promising unproduced screenplays.

LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD has partnered with The Black List, the annual survey of Hollywood executives' favorite unproduced screenplays, to create The GLAAD List, a new curated list of the most promising unmade LGBTQ-inclusive scripts in Hollywood, the two organizations announced Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City.

The inaugural 10 scripts range from David Carlson’s Trouble Man, the true story of gay African-American civil rights leader Bayard Rustin; to Pamela Garcia Rooney’s Me & Tammy Faye at the Betty Ford Clinic, a fictional tale of a friendship that develops between the televangelist and a Latina transgender woman; to Harry Tarre’s Queen, the true story of the world’s first openly transgender high school prom queen, Corey Rae.

Commented Rae, “I’m so grateful to have my story of becoming the world’s first transgender prom queen be recognized by two amazing organizations. GLAAD and The Black List combining for the first time is epic and I’m so happy they are focusing on elevating LGBTQ+ stories together. The making of Queen has been a fascinating and fulfilling process thus far, and I’m really looking forward to it becoming a successful film.”

The projects are drawn from scripts that have been hosted on or were included on the 2018 year-end annual Black List. Unlike The Black List, The GLAAD List is not voted upon via a survey, but is instead curated by GLAAD based on a pool of the highest-rated scripts provided by The Black List which feature LGBTQ characters. A script may remain active on The Black List and The GLAAD List up until it begins filming.

Criteria used to evaluate the scripts include: fair, accurate and inclusive LGBTQ representation; boldness and originality of the content; potential impact of the media project; overall quality of the written project; and whether they passed the Vito Russo Test. To pass the Vito Russo Test, named after the late author and activist, a film must contains a character that is identifiably LGBTQ; that character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity (i.e. the character is comprised of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight/non-transgender characters from one another); and the LGBTQ character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect, meaning they are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline. 

“There is no more reputable source for discovering quality scripts in Hollywood than The Black List,” said Jeremy Blacklow, GLAAD’s director of entertainment media. “The Black List’s commitment to elevating marginalized voices in the film industry is unparalleled and GLAAD is excited to lock arms with them in helping bring diverse LGBTQ stories to Hollywood’s attention.”

"The Black List is thrilled to be working with GLAAD to shine a spotlight on brilliant LGBTQ-inclusive scripts hosted on The Black List and beyond,” said Franklin Leonard, founder and CEO of The Black List. “We are even more excited by the prospect that this spotlight will vault these films toward production and into theaters around the country and the world, bringing with them a more LGBTQ-inclusive culture and society."

The inaugural GLAAD List, which can be found at the organization's site, is also available below, presented in alphabetical order. 

The Ecdysiasts, by Mary F. Unser — Soon the 13-year periodical cicadas will emerge from underground by the millions, molt and fill the air with their joyous, deafening song. Above ground, 13-year-old Trygg is struggling with his own emergence since the death of his older sister Katie. When lesbian entomologist Allison Armstrong moves in next door, she and Trygg become fast friends and make plans to celebrate the appearance of the cicadas.

The Enclosed, by Chris Basler — In 13th-century England, Brigid, an anchoress living a hermetic existence in a church cell, stumbles upon a holy relic that may give her life new meaning — but when a sinister entity after the relic threatens her, she’s forced to confide in an impertinent servant girl with plans of her own.

Me & Tammy Faye at the Betty Ford Clinic, by Pamela García Rooney — The totally made-up story of the unlikely bond between a Latina transgender woman and the queen of Christian televangelism, inspired by the very real life of Tammy Faye Bakker.

Paragraph 175, by Diane Hanks — In the storm of persecution that is Adolf Hitler's rise to power, two lovers are torn apart and find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict: one a prisoner in a concentration camp, the other his captor.

Queen, by Harry Tarre — Based on the inspiring true story of the world’s first openly transgender high school Prom Queen, Corey Rae.

Scott, by Anna Rose Moore — After her best friend dies, a success-driven lawyer is left with an unwinnable case — a female inmate’s accusations of rape by her prison guards. She soon uncovers a massive systemic scandal of sexual abuse by prison staff and the network used to cover it up.

Three Months, by Jared Frieder — After being exposed to HIV the weekend of his high school graduation in 2011, a queer teenager from Miami must survive the three months it takes to get tested in this coming-of-age dark comedy about shame and resilience.  

Trouble Man, by David Carlson — The incredible true story of unsung hero Bayard Rustin, the gay African-American architect of the Civil Rights Movement and right-hand man to Martin Luther King, Jr.

What If?, by Alvaro Garcia Lecuona — An unassertive 17-year-old turns his high school on its head when he asks out his crush, a transgender girl.

Your Boy, by Matt Whitaker — Home for the summer on Long Island, a shy, black college student comes out to his oldest and closest friend. But after an internship in Manhattan leads him to an exhilarating gay social scene, the 21-year-old is caught between his newly confident lifestyle and the unpopular straight friend who once knew him best.