‘Beyond Borders’ docuseries spotlights Florida drag and more

SLlama Productions premiered “The Heart of Ybor” in 2022, a 10-minute documentary showcasing the Tampa city’s vibrant drag community. Its success paved the way for the LGBTQ+-owned company’s next endeavor, which has amassed over 150,000 views on YouTube since its release.

Filmmaker Samantha Luque’s new five-part docuseries “Beyond Borders” launched on the platform April 25 and concluded May 23. The self-made documentary sheds light on Florida’s trans, nonbinary and drag communities, showing the impacts of Florida’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

Her company’s mission is to amplify “diverse voices through storytelling to not only ensure understanding, but to instill empowerment and create a ripple of change.” It’s exactly what she’s done in “Beyond Borders.”

“I wanted people to listen to what’s going on, for people to be aware about what’s happening here in Florida, what’s happening here in the United States,” Luque reflects on what she calls her “passion project.” She adds that “if it’s going to happen to us, it’s going to happen to other people too.”

View the trailer below:

The docuseries spotlights five members of the Drag2Talle Nine, activists and entertainers originally based in Tampa Bay that traveled to Tallahassee during the 2023 legislative session to speak out against hate. They are Angelique Young, Daniel Cruz, Aaron Perry-Cruz, also known as Erika P.C., Lilith Black and Freya Misdemeanor. Luque chose the subjects after hearing them speak at the historic Drag Queen March last year.

“I heard their stories on stage and they were so inspiring and so passionate,” Luque recalls. “Because it was them saying, ‘We need help, we need to stand together. There’s no more this and them. We’re all united and we need help, please.’”

Each episode details the entertainer’s experiences, highlighting stories of coming out and finding places of belonging in hostile environments. Episode one focuses on the dancing diva herself Angelique Young, also known as Angelique Godwin, who became Equality Florida’s Director of Transgender Equality last month.

Young expresses what it truly means to be an Afro-Latina transwoman — to constantly grow and learn while developing who she is. She shares the highs and lows of her journey, from the mental health struggles she experienced during her transition to the joy and validation she felt when she legally changed her name.

She originally came out to her family as bisexual, then gay, as a drag queen and ultimately as a transwoman. Her coming out process gave Young the opportunity to build better bonds with her loved ones by sharing different parts of the LGBTQ+ community.

“No one has to decide whether or not they still love me or not,” Young says in the series. “They just have to decide whether or not they want to understand.” Watch:

Episode two focuses on the life of “drag husband” Daniel Cruz, also a member of the Tampa Bay Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Watermark freelancer. Cruz married Aaron Perry-Cruz, the entertainer known as Erika P.C. in 2021.

They couple met at an LGBTQ+ club in Ybor six years ago and have been together ever since. Cruz was not surprised that his husband — who is the focus of episode three — wanted to do drag as he loved and valued performing arts.

There were many changes Cruz faced as a drag husband, among them the time commitment. The episode showcases his adoration and support for P.C.’s dream, illustrating that love really does conquer all.

“I don’t mind money being spent on this, it’s important to him,” Cruz says in the series. “It’s bringing so many good things to his life and to our lives and to our community.”

P.C. was inspired by the entertainer’s late mother who imparted the foundation to live authentically, episode three reveals. While drag isn’t her full-time career, she highlights how she’s felt the consequences of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and recalls one night at Southern Nights Tampa when an egg was thrown at the entertainer from a car passing by.

The rise of negativity in Florida fuels her fire for being who she is and being proud of it.

“The more laws they pass, the stronger Erika becomes,” P.C. says. “The more they do this, the more it infuriates me and gives me the energy to do it.” View their episodes below:

Lilith Black and Freya Misdemeanor respectively feature in episodes four and five.

Black navigates their life as a nonbinary drag artist in a state where their identity is under attack by both lawmakers and local Floridians. They share they were once misinformed about the drag and trans communities but broke through the that to become who they are, experiences they hope will bring comfort to queer youth watching the series.

“This is a horrible thing that’s happening, but it is temporary. It’s reversable,” Black says. “And the future we will live in is going to be accepting of all of us, whether they want to be a part of it or not.”

Luque calls the fifth and final episode “deeply personal.” It examines the story of Misdemeanor, a Tampa native and transwoman.

Misdemeanor was raised in a conservative, religious household and came out as a teenager. This resulted in the complete cut-off of contact from her birth father.

She found solace from her hate-filled home in her drag mother, episode one’s Young. She was the first of many drag queens, trans and queer people she would connect with; Misdemeanor had the rare opportunity to attend a drag school led by Young and eventually performed for the first time in 2018.

“This queer community has once again saved my life and brought me back from the dead,” Misdemeanor says. “By just existing and being who they are because when you talk to them, they’re about love, they’re about light. They’re about bringing more light, more happiness, positivity and more gorgeousness to the world.”

Watch episodes four and five below:

The docuseries is handcrafted by Luque to amplify the voices of queer, trans and nonbinary individuals while facing obstacles created by the state’s government. She says the support for the docuseries from the community and the subjects themselves has been intense.

Luque recalls a mother of a trans child who sent her an email extending her gratitude for educating her more on the community, thus connecting her with her own child.

“That’s the reason why I created all this — to encourage conversation between people, to let people know it’s okay that you’re scared. It’s okay if you don’t understand. But just take five minutes to watch something, and it might enlighten you on a subject that you had no idea that was even happening,” Luque explains.

The film’s subjects say they’re thankful to have played a part in the series.

“I was proud to participate in ‘Beyond Borders’ because it was important to be a voice of love and light to others, to let others the younger generation know that they matter, that they are important and they are loved just the way they are,” P.C. says. “I wanted them to know it’s okay to be your 100% authentic self.”

“Those days in Tallahassee during 2023 were such a whirlwind with so much going on,” her husband adds. “I felt it was important for somebody to capture the urgency and passion of that moment … I am glad more people can learn about what happened and use it as a catalyst to continue the work moving forward.”

Telling these stories was important to Luque both as a lesbian and friend to many local queens. She notes she’s excited to provide insight into Florida’s LGBTQ+ community.

“I think being the bridge for helping people tell their story, it’s a really heavy feeling as the director,” she says. “It’s so important for me to bring that authenticity out and make sure that their stories are told right.

“I think the final product is exactly how they wanted to be represented in the public,” she continues. “They just wanted someone who is misunderstood, someone who doesn’t see themselves, to be able to hear this and say ‘Oh my god, they jumped over the rainbow. They became this person and I can too. I’m not alone in this world.’”

Luque is currently seeking support for a second season of “Beyond Borders” that will focus on members of the LGBTQ+ community outside of Florida.

Learn more and view season one and additional content at Youtube.com/@BeyondBordersSeries. Learn more about SLlama Productions at SalamaProductions.Us.

More in Arts & Culture

See More