WeWork Filmmaker Zachary Fuhrer’s 3 short documentaries chronicle the lives of people converging at the New York City Pride March.
When Hal Moskowitz came out of the closet in 1975, it would forever change his life.
“When the door opened, I came flying out in all the colors of the rainbow,” he says.
In New York City, the gay rights movement was still finding its footing. And in that ragtag group of street activists, Moskowitz felt accepted for who he was for the first time.
“It was young and it was fledgling, but it was new and it was open and it was exciting,” says Moskowitz. “And it was home.”
His story — sometimes heart wrenching, but just as often hilarious — is part of a series of short documentaries produced by WeWork called “Always Love.” The film about Moskowitz was released this week online.
On the surface, the individual stories couldn’t be more different. Moskowitz is a community organizer spurred to action when he started seeing friends succumb to a then-unnamed illness. Joanna Fang is a transwoman who finally finds herself comfortable in her own skin. And Brigid McGinn comes out later in life after being married and having four kids.
But taken together, the docs tell the story of the incredibly diverse community at the New York City Pride March. All three stories blend the personal and the political, which Fuhrer found intriguing.
“As someone said to me at the march, Pride is always a party, but it’s also very political,” says WeWork’s Video Lead Zachary Fuhrer. “And it’s always been that way.”
The idea for the series came about gradually. Not long after joining the staff at WeWork, Fuhrer was asked to shoot a short video about the New York-based coworking company’s members and employees participating for the first time in the annual march.
Fuhrer came back with a counterproposal: he’d make that video, along with another talking with people about why the event continues to be so important. Even though the second film wouldn’t be about WeWork, the support he got from colleagues was “pretty much instantaneous.
”When Brenna Perez signed on as director, she suggested profiling Fang. Fuhrer was enthusiastic, having already worked closely with the Emmy Award-winning Foley artist on the feature film The Light Between Oceans.
After they added Moskowitz and McGinn to the mix, one thing was immediately clear: one short documentary wouldn’t do them justice.
“All three of them are incredible individuals, with unique stories to tell that speak to the kinds of experiences millions of people have around the world,” says Perez. “I think it's important for us to hear their stories.”
Fuhrer went back to his colleagues at WeWork, saying he wanted to produce separate films about all three people. Again he found nothing but support.
“I’ve been in other environments with a lot of bureaucratic obstacles to getting things made,” says Fuhrer. “That wasn’t the case at all at WeWork. I’m very lucky to be a part of a team here who sense when you’re really passionate about something and let you go for it.”
Fuhrer found himself drawn to Moskowitz, whose story spans the most devastating years of the AIDS epidemic. In 1983, he was among the first wave of volunteers for the advocacy group Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
“We were on this merry-go-round,” Moskowitz says in the film. “There was always one sick, one dying, one dead. One sick, one dying, one dead. And that went on for 12 years.”
Fuhrer says he often heard about those years because his father has been a specialist about the HIV/AIDS since the disease first took hold in this country.
“I lived in a house where the topic was discussed all the time,” says Fuhrer. “It really resonated with me. After college, the first documentary I ever made was about HIV and public health policy.”
In the documentary, the camera follows Moskowitz to this year’s Pride March, where he helps lead the contingent for an organization called Gays Against Guns. After 40 years, he’s still taking to the streets.
But the part of the documentary that Fuhrer loves most is when Moskowitz walks around Greenwich Village, pointing out spots where he used to go out dancing or congregate with friends.
“He takes us to the places he frequented when he first came out, speaking about them in a warm and loving way,” says Fuhrer. “He talks about everything, the good times and the bad times. Through his eyes, we’re able to see the evolution of the gay rights movement.”