As we look back on 2022, I want to say thanks to all our donors and supporters. Simply put, Jeffrey’s story couldn’t have been told without your financial and moral support over the years.
In 2022, we focused on Jeffrey’s home state of Michigan with a number of screenings of “America You Kill Me”.
In April, we were honored to be part of the Detroit Free Press’s FREEP Film Festival, at Detroit’s Redford Theatre and Birmingham’s Imagine Theatre. The two screenings went over extremely well, to a positive and appreciative audience.We got two standing ovations and won "The Spirit of Michigan Award '' for the film that best exemplifies the State of Michigan's spirit of ingenuity and creativity - both in film making quality and topic.
In June, AYKM was shown at the Edsel Ford House theatre in Grosse Pointe Shores, followed by an additional viewing at Grosse Pointe Park’s Schalp theatre. In between those two showings, Detroit College for Creative Studies (CCS) hosted a special showing to its students, faculty, and guests. Also, in June, our director Daniel Land traveled to Midland’s Center for the Arts for a midday showing of Jeffrey’s documentary.
Mid-Summer saw “America You Kill Me” have a multi-night run in July at Cinema Detroit, the city’s only truly independent cinema. In August, The Players Club in Detroit, the oldest men’s theatrical club in Detroit, hosted a special showing of “America You Kill Me” to honor Jeffrey Montgomery who was a long-time member of the Players.
In September, we took another road trip up to the Upper Peninsula for a show at the Soo Film Festival. Finally in November, we took part in the inaugural Bagley Street Film Festival created by the Matrix Theatre Company (founded in 1991). At this festival, we were proud to be awarded “Best Documentary Feature”.
2022 gave us an opportunity to present the documentary to a variety of folks, ranging from those who knew Jeffrey, working with him, and many who simply knew of him from his work to ensure LGBTQ+ rights. The important take-away for us was that we honored Jeffrey, by telling his story with all the highs and lows he experienced in his lifetime. From day one, Jeffrey was very clear that he wished no editorial control over the content of “America You Kill Me”. To date, the response from those who viewed the documentary in 2022 confirmed that we honored Jeffrey’s request.
Over the years, while working on the documentary, one phrase always came up: “What would Jeffrey do?" Looking back on 2022, there is no doubt that Jeffrey would be pleased at the progress that was made in 2022. Openly gay members of the LGBTQ community have been elected to state houses around the country, including two lesbians elected governor (Maura Healey in Massachusetts and Tina Kotek in Oregon), and Jared Polis, the nation’s first openly gay male governor of Colorado. These and other victories give us hope.
At the same time, we know that Jeffrey’s reaction would make it clear that the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022, totaling at least 344 bills, would mean the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights is far from complete. In fact, in 23 states there are more than 25 of these bills that were ultimately enacted across 13 states, 17 of which have a disproportionate or targeted impact on transgender people.
In 2023, it is the mission of the “America You Kill Me” team to make sure that Jeffrey’s inspiring story reaches the largest possible audience. In 2022 we’ve seen the positive impact of his story on the many audiences who attended Michigan showings. We know “America You Kill Me” can and will be a powerful tool that will inspire all to continue the battle for LGBTQ+ civil rights in this country and beyond.
Again, many thanks to all for your support, and here’s to a successful and impactful 2023, the year of "America You Kill Me"!
Stay strong. Stay safe,
America You Kill Me
Included the following venues:
Toyota Lecture Series @ College For Creative Studies: Wendell W. Anderson Auditorium
Soo Film Festival in Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Cinema Detroit- Metro Detroit's only truly independent cinema
Presented by WEGP and Macomb County Pride
Presented by MIGHTY REAL QUEER DETROIT
Presented by WEGP & PFLAG Grosse Pointe
Presented by Great Lakes Bay Pride
Your support of any amount helps us bring this story
to audiences far and wide.
July 18, 2016, marked the day we lost our brother, friend, a leader, activist, and steadfast warrior for social justice and LGBTQ equality. In his life, he touched countless souls with his fierce intellect, and abundant sense of humor,
Jeffrey's story, the focus of the upcoming documentary “America You Kill Me” , in 2022, was a man of many facets.
Although his awareness as a gay person began when he was very young it was a pivotal moment that changed him into a fierce warrior for LGBTQ civil rights and protections in America.
In 1984 his partner, Michael, was shot to death outside a Detroit gay bar, prompting Montgomery to engage in LGBTQ advocacy. He started work on LGBTQ anti-violence issues upon learning that the police were not spending many resources on solving the murder, "just another gay killing".
In 1991 Montgomery became the founding executive director of the Triangle Foundation and served until September 2007. Initially engaging in victim advocacy around LGBTQ violence and to improve the handling of LGBTQ-related cases, the foundation's work expanded to LGBTQ civil rights and advocacy, with projects for anti-violence, media activism, and legislative education on LGBTQ civil rights.
Within the movement, he was a staunch advocate for inclusiveness knowing that to create progress for LGBTQ civil rights the fight would need to include all sexually discriminated groups such as transgender people as well as black and brown members of the LGBTQ community.
Montgomery was widely quoted in media outlets on LGBTQ issues and high-profile LGBTQ-related crimes, such as the murder of Scott Amedure in 1995, and the murder of Matthew Shepard. Montgomery to attend the trials of Shepard's killers. In 2001, Montgomery was a featured participant in an A&E Network documentary about the Matthew Shepard case.
According to Cathy Renna, a friend of Jeffrey’s and communication director of the National LGBTQ Task Force in an ADVOCATE July 25th, 2016 article about Jeffrey’s passing:
“Without His (Jeffrey’s) involvement helping to unravel the “gay panic defense” I do not think we would have seen the important progress we did in the years that followed if not for Jeffrey’s hard work and dedication to the truth”.
“Jeffrey knew that our movement was one based on freedom and love, not fear and hate. He was a role model in his confidence and pride in who he was, in every way. He was fearless and honest about his own struggles with loss and addiction and quietly helped so many others deal with their struggles”.
Jeffrey Montgomery’s activities and honors over the years always were intertwined in his unceasing effort for LGBTQ civil rights right up to his untimely passing from a heart attack on July 18th, 2016. He was 63. Here, in part, are a few key moments.
Honors for Montgomery include:
This original 5-minute short film screened at the 2014 Cinetopia Film Festival.
Listen to the WDET interview with Producer John Montgomery and Director Daniel Land about Jeffrey's documentary.
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