By Catherine Trudell
The 33rd Annual Boston LGBT Film Festival, Wicked Queer, kicked off this Friday with screenings around the city. On Saturday at the Museum of Fine Arts, some braved the April Fools’ Day snow to watch the documentary, The Guys Next Door.
The documentary tells the tale of Erik Mercer and Sandro Sechi, a gay married couple, who decided to start a family. Their friend Rachel Segall, a wife and mother of three, volunteered to carry their child as a surrogate, not once, but twice.
“Sometimes I’ll forget that I’m pregnant,” said Segall in the documentary, while pregnant with Erik and Sandro’s second child, Eli. “But then I’ll catch a glimpse of myself in a window or a mirror, and I think a big piece of that is because it’s not mine.”
A story of family, love, insecurities, loss and the pursuit of self realization and happiness, weaves throughout the three year span of filming.
Family Tree: A Look At Who’s Who
Move your cursor over the blue dots to see the relationships between people. (Infographic by Catherine Trudell)
“The love that you showed, was really so inspiring, and so wonderful to watch,” said a woman in the crowd after the Saturday night screening. “It was just so heart opening. We really are very grateful, I’m sure I’m speaking for a lot of people, I can really feel it.”
Movie Took Three Years To Create
The documentary, which first screened a year ago in March 2016, took the filmmakers three years to create. After a year of full-time filming, and then two years of monthly check-ins, filmmakers Amy Geller and Allie Humenuck captured an honest and humorous story, filled with intimate and natural moments.
“It was shockingly not that hard,” said Erik Mercer, when asked by a member of the crowd during the post-screening Q&A if it was difficult to act normal in front of the cameras. “They started filming, and we liked them. They were with us so much. It’s weird, and I know it sounds crazy, but you do kind of forget that they’re there, because they were very unobtrusive.”
Election Brings New Meaning
After the polarizing 2016 presidential campaign, and the election of President Trump, many people in the LGBT community are worried for the rights they waited long to attain. The Guys Next Door documentary holds heavier weight today than it did a year ago.
“We intentionally made a film that was not ‘hit you over the head’ political, but a lot of what was being said was political in terms of being pro-surrogacy as a way of having a family, and pro-gay marriage and gay families,” said co-director Humenuck.
The families have continued to grow and change since the filming ceased. Since the movie was released, Erik and Sancho’s youngest child, born as Eleonora, has identified as a boy. Now going by Eli, Erik admits that even though their family is very liberal, they’ve all had to adjust.
“Eli has been very brave,” said Erik, as he hugged his son in front of the crowd at the Boston screening.
The Guys Next Door film will continue to travel around the country with upcoming screenings along the east coast.
For a full listing of Boston’s Wicked Queer film festival schedule, click here.