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Love, Jamie illuminates trans artist Jamie Diaz's art created while incarcerated (exclusive)

Love, Jamie illuminates trans artist Jamie Diaz's art created while incarcerated (exclusive)

Our Flaming Queer Hearts Will Not Be Denied/Gabriel Joffe and Jamie Diaz in Love, Jamie
Courtesy Jamie Diaz and Daniel Cooney Fine Art/Courtesy American Masters

Our Flaming Queer Hearts Will Not Be Denied and Gabriel Joffe and Jamie Diaz

Ahead of Love, Jamie's premiere on PBS's American Masters, The Advocate has an exclusive first look at the full documentary short that tells the story of friendship between trans artist Diaz, just released on parole, and Gabriel Joffe, a younger nonbinary person inspired by Diaz's art.

“You wouldn’t believe all the things I think about when I’m working on my art. I go all over the world in my mind,” says artist Jamie Diaz in the new short documentary Love, Jamie. From director Karla Murthy (The Place That Makes Us) and executive producer Zackary Drucker (Queenmaker, Lady and the Dale), the film tells the story of hope and a friendship between Diaz, a 66-year-old Mexican-American trans woman sentenced to life in a men’s prison in Texas, and Gabriel Joffe, the young nonbinary person inspired by one of the affirming works of art Diaz created in while in prison. Love, Jamie is set to premiere on PBS’s American Masters Monday, just days after Diaz was released on parole after nearly 30 years of incarceration. And The Advocate has an exclusive first look at the full documentary.

Love, Jamieis the powerful and exuberant trans story we need right now; a life-affirming documentary of one incarcerated trans woman’s journey towards acceptance through her art,” Drucker says.

Our Flaming Queer Hearts Will Not Be Denied Our Flaming Queer Hearts Will Not Be Denied Courtesy Jamie Diaz and Daniel Cooney Fine Art

The story charts the letters exchanged between Joffe and Diaz after Joffe, who was working in 2013 for an LGBTQ+ organization that helps incarcerated people, opened a letter from Diaz containing one of her paintings. Joffe reached out, and they became friends who also shared their gender journeys. Their abiding friendship and mutual love are evident in the letters they read aloud and in their phone calls.

As the Love, Jamie website reads, “It began with one letter, 10 years ago.” The site explains Diaz’s artistic process as, “Using the limited paint supplies available to her and brushes she fashions from her own hair, Diaz creates bold and graphic paintings awash in color and symbolism.”

Eventually, Joffe began archiving and cataloging Diaz’s work, leading to an exhibition titled "Even Flowers Bleed" at the Daniel Cooney Fine Art Gallery in New York City in 2022.

In the Realm of Mortal ExistenceIn the Realm of Mortal ExistenceCourtesy Jamie Diaz and Daniel Cooney Fine Art

"When I’m working on a film, I always try to find a word that can act as a guiding light through the creative process — ‘home,’ ‘forgiveness,’” Murthy tells The Advocate. “For Love, Jamie, the word was ‘dignity.’ I see every day how the dignity of queer and trans people is constantly under attack, constantly being chipped away. The prison system is yet another institutionalized mechanism to strip a person’s dignity. And so I wanted this film to be imbued with dignity.”

“That word shaped the music, the pacing, how each frame was composed, filming close-ups of Jamie’s art being carefully and lovingly framed, choosing not to film Jamie in prison and to only use her voice, her words, and her art to express who she is,” Murthy adds. “I want to offer this film as a celebration of life, a story about a beautiful friendship, creating one’s chosen family and the restorative power of art. I also would not have made this without Jamie’s blessing. And she says it best: ‘I believe it is important to shed as much light as possible on inequality as well as show the integrity, courage, beauty, and love of our people.’”

Love, Jamie premieres on PBS’s American Mastersseries on Monday, but you can watch the film in full below.

Love, Jamie | Trans artist Jamie Diaz creates art while incarcerated | American Masters Shorts | PBSwww.youtube.com

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Tracy E. Gilchrist

Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.
Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.