Though Pride Month is often deemed a celebratory occasion, director Lee Hirsch said he wanted to portray “how difficult coming out can still be for people” through a new video campaign.
Titled “Love Calls Back,” the video features testimony from four LGBTQ people, who open up about the emotional challenges they still face in getting loved ones to support them as their authentic selves. The clip, which can be viewed above, comes to a bittersweet conclusion as each receives a virtual embrace of sorts from a family member whom they’ve been estranged from or at odds with.
Hirsch, whose credits include the 2011 documentary “Bully” directed the video for Verizon’s Pride Month celebration in June. “Love Calls Back” is intended as a follow-up to Verizon’s 2018 campaign, which was titled “Pride” and featured LGBTQ people coming out to their friends and family members over the phone. The director felt that the 2019 effort needed to speak to those “who might not have gotten that immediate affirmation of love and acceptance.”
“It was a delicate process of listening, connecting and being sure both sides were ready and open to the experience and allowing that very personal moment to become a public one,” Hirsch said. “I think we so often want to turn away from emotions and challenges, but it’s actually so honest to allow folks who have been through struggle to tell their stories and allow that to impact others through its rawness.”
He continued, “It was also really moving to connect with the parents and brother in the film who had so much love, but clearly hadn’t said all that could be said to their loved ones.”
The Thursday release of “Love Calls Back” coincided with the announcement of Verizon’s donation of $250,000 to PFLAG National, an advocacy group that supports LGBTQ people and their families.
Verizon is the owner of Verizon Media Group, HuffPost’s parent company.
The overall aim of PFLAG is reflected perfectly in “Love Calls Back,” Hirsch said. He hopes the video will remind LGBTQ people who are still trying to come to terms with their sexuality or gender identity that “things can turn around, wounds can be healed and relationships can find new energy.”
“Pride, to me, is a deeply personal time to gather oneself, reflect and celebrate, but also a time to be visible and help others see the rich, diverse beauty and heart in the LGBTQ community,” he said. “It’s also political as there are still countless people who do not feel safe or accepted.”