By David T. Valentin
Draw with Me is a deeply incredible personal account of a trans boy, Brendon Scholl, coming to terms with their identity and their new relationship between them and their family. The short 24-minute film presents personal statements and accounts by famous singer celebrity Jennifer Lopez (Brendon’s aunt), Brendon’s mother, father, and grandmother.
One of the messages that struck me as deeply inspiring, but deeply troubling, for not only queer people but trans youth especially is the politicization of your identity at such a young age. As the interviewer notes to Brendon, and they agree, suddenly their life is political. Brendon then goes on to talk about the emotional weight of having to explain definitions and uses of pronouns to people. Suddenly you’re an educator and a political activist at such a young age but you’re also just a kid. And I think at the end of the day that’s why it’s so hard for LGBTQ+ youth to not only come out but exist in a family and a setting that doesn’t have an inkling of LGBTQ+ education and understanding of the community, because suddenly as a child you’re asked to explain years of history, queer theory, and definitions that you yourself are just getting to know.
The film asks whether or not kids should be tasked with such a heavy burden of educating their parents. And I think the answer the film presents is that no. No, the parents and other family members and friends should make the effort to understand their LGBTQ+ children and try their best to educate themselves so that they can lift that emotional burden off of their children even if they fully don’t understand their kids sexuality and/or gender identity.
To really drive that point home, Brendon’s mother, Leslie, talks about how it’s not really about the parents when a child comes out, it’s about the child. And so many children when they come out they’re guilted by the parents. “Why didn’t you tell me?,” “Didn’t you trust me?,” etc. It puts so much emotional weight on the child who is already going through a crisis of identity, that really all the parent should do is take a step back, relax, and give their child some space. Space to explore. Space to discover. Space to grow.
Although at first I felt a little disappointed that the film didn’t focus more on Brendon’s relation with their identity and their art, especially considering the title of the short film, I came to realize at the end that it the title doesn’t exactly refer to a literal “draw with me” but a metaphorical one. In a way, Brendon begins with an isolated discovery of themselves but as they open up, as they accept love, Brendon invites others, and the audiences of the film, to see how they created and drew who they are and invites others to do the same for themselves.
As a writer myself it was touching to see Brendon’s art change as they grow more and more comfortable with their identity. After the one-year time skip in the short film you can really see how much they grew and how much more confident they are. Not only is that represented by the confidence Brendon exudes, but in how much more colorful their art is and their style of dress. I think not only just hearing about that growing confidence but by physically seeing it is a really inspiring visual for LGBTQ+ youth witnessing the film.
Overall, I really enjoyed the film. I would say the only weakness of the film is its length. There were moments I wanted more from it, though I think it carefully leans to the general and the personal not for the sake of its audience but for Brendon and their family. For that I feel like the film serves as a sort of introductory course for LGBTQ+ youth who are just coming out and also for families who want to support and understand their LGBTQ+ child(ren) but just don’t know how. Despite the shortness of the film’s length, Draw With Me is sweet, and just enough of a taste into Brendon’s life to want to delve deeper into not only their story but also the story of other LGBTQ+ youth going through the same journey.