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BETWEEN THE SHADES: Exploring The “Shades” Between Gay & Straight

A deeply touching film about sexuality, Between The Shades opens the door to seeing LGBTQ+ people as exactly what they are. Human.

BETWEEN THE SHADES: Exploring The "Shades" Between Gay & Straight

“No matter how different people are, everybody wants to be loved.”

“If you meet someone and fall in love with them, why would you let anything stop you from love? And that’s really what it comes down to.”

And love, is really what this amazing new documentary comes down to. I had the privilege of, not only supporting Between The Shades, but seeing it at its premiere at Soho International Film Fest, June 17, 2017.

A Conversation

Jill Salvino, the film’s Emmy award winning director and creator, first got the idea for the film in a casual conversation with friends. Quoted directly from her KickStarter page: “Recently, I found myself reflecting on a flippant conversation I had about the “type of gay” a close friend of mine was. It was an innocent conversation on the diversity of our mutual gay friends. I began to wonder about all the different gay identities there are and how hard it is to define that experience.”

BETWEEN THE SHADES: Exploring The "Shades" Between Gay & Straight

Jill Salvino. source: Just Jill Productions

Hard indeed, because of how many “shades” there are. Salvino set out to create the documentary based upon personal interviews of 50+ people of all genders, colors and sexual orientations. It is an honest, poignant, multifaceted homage to the innumerable types of love and humans, that exist.


At times, we live in a world of outright turmoil. We have seen a huge surge, recently, from ultra right wing groups clamoring to stop inevitable change from happening. The increase of hate crimes is disturbing and testament that we are on the cusp of world wide social movements for the better.

Between The Shades enters the world stage, at the perfect time.

BETWEEN THE SHADES: Exploring The "Shades" Between Gay & Straight

source: Just Jill Productions

To say that the LGBTQ+ conversation is a “hot button” topic would be putting it mildly. People argue about it in every society across the world, using religion, personal opinion, science and much more to try to “explain” it. Humanity, in general, has much to learn about the genetics and brain chemistry behind gender and sexual orientation. Because of the wide range of people there are, I was mystified how Salvino would tailor such a massive subject, into an audience friendly version, that would also keep you engaged.

Focusing on the essence of each individual person, Salvino and cinematographer Christopher Vernale weave a focused story and tribute to our souls. Salvino makes each and every person interviewed into someone we know. She helps prove that, even with as many differences as we have, there are just as many things that we have in common. Most importantly, our need for love and acceptance.

Salvino is able to garner such trust, that you can actually see the inner child in the faces of the interviewees. From the light in their eyes when they discuss their personal longings, to the tears of pain from their heartache. It takes a truly special kind of director to illicit this much honesty out of every day people, particularly in front of a camera.

BETWEEN THE SHADES: Exploring The "Shades" Between Gay & Straight

source: Just Jill Productions

The brilliance of focusing on our similarities with love, is that Salvino is able to bring a mostly controversial subject to an extraordinarily comfortable level. By the end of the film, the interviewees feel more like friends and family, rather than strangers or “others”. The film is less about labels and more about personal experiences. “Queer” becomes relatable and approachable, as we come to realize how connected and similar we truly are. “Queer”, in actuality, seems the greater norm than not.

The Love Is Real

Before I met you, before I knew you, My heart ached for something that I could not explain. And then, when I saw you, I finally knew. What I thought love was before had changed” -Yolanda Adams.

There is something special about those who have overcome great adversity. They become capable of the greatest levels of love, both giving it and being given to.

This film isn’t a lecture or scientific analysis. It is an honest, considerate and necessary conversation. It’s a non-intrusive, uncomplicated look into a sometimes very complicated subject. Salvino‘s astute focus on similarity and humanity make it non-intimidating and enjoyable. The distinct attention paid to the eyes, personalized each experience even more.

This film opens the door to seeing LGBTQ+ people as exactly what they are. Human. Everything that a person can be, is part of being human. Why is it so hard for us to grasp this? When it comes to the species, there is no wrong way to be human. Our variances are endless, except when it comes to our extraordinary ability to overcome obstacles that lead to love and acceptance. Who are we to deny anyone this innate need?

I encourage everyone to seek this film out and see it when it comes your way, especially if the subject is taboo to you. Take in the heart. Take in the tangible emotion. Allow yourself to open up and celebrate the love, need and humanity that is part of every one of us. At our cores, we truly are, one.

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Opinions expressed in our articles are those of the authors and not of the Film Inquiry magazine.

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Amyana Bartley is a screenwriter and producer. Her company, Queen B. Productions, supports filmmakers of all walks, interested in creating thought provoking, moving projects. As her company grows, she will create "real jobs" for any talented artist, in front of and behind the screen, who is passionate about making a difference using the art of film.