20 July 2008

Soldier's Girl

I've had a copy of the movie Soldier's Girl, rented from Netflix, for a few weeks - but didn't get to watch it until now. And it is an understatement to call the story shocking.

Of course, the movie is about the July 4, 1999 murder of Pfc. Barry Winchell due to his relationship to transgender showgirl Calpernia Addams, and the military's rampant homophobia.

I loved how every major character was a complex, well-portrayed individual, from Calpernia and Pfc. Barry Winchell to murderer Calvin Glover and accomplice/roommate Justin Fisher. Glover was an immature minor, and Fisher had substance abuse problems. Winchell came across as a very mature, honest, ordinary yet courageous character, and as Sergeant Diaz points out, his loss is a huge loss to the military.

Lee Pace, despite his deep male voice, did a wonderful job of portraying Calpernia; although he didn't look much like the Calpernia I met a week ago, he did look similar to her earlier photos from the era. And he really came across as poignant in carrying Calpernia's insecurities as a struggling transgender showgirl, who gets hit on by many men but rarely gets into the serious relationship that Winchell gave her.

Ever since Transamerican Love Story brought Calpernia back into the spotlight this year, I've been following a lot about her since - including her relationship with Barry Winchell, and the horrid details of the investigation that happened in the aftermath of the murder that I had initially overlooked. And thanks to the film, now I have a much better idea of the true dynamics behind the murder, and the sorry state of the military's homophobia (the taunting of faggots during a march, led by a drill sergeant, told me everything).

Now the next step will be to read Calpernia's memoir, Mark 947, to further get a peek into her background, including the touchy issues with her birth family (something also briefly touched on in the movie, alongside Calpernia's male photo and identity from her own military service). I won't be able to do that until I have a bit of privacy, however, which will be late next month.

Soldier's Girl

Of course, Calpernia discusses quite a bit about this part of her life on her website, but she respectfully asks that the topic, still raw to her, not be brought up in person.

No comments: