River Gallo's short film Ponyboi makes history as the first narrative film about an intersex character, created by and starring an intersex person. The 20-minute film follows Ponyboi, a young intersex man and sex worker working in a seedy laundromat in New Jersey. On Valentine's Day he meets the man of his dreams and through a surreal encounter, discovers a new sense of worth. In this groundbreaking story of love and self-acceptance, Gallo gives a powerful performance, drawing from his experiences growing up intersex. Executive producers Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson both recognized the significance of this film and backed it early on. Their enthusiastic support made Gallo realize "this isn't just a queer cause for the queer community," he says. "This is a human cause, and this should be a mainstream conversation that we all should be having."
In the interview below, Gallo discusses the vulnerability of coming out as intersex on-screen, and his best friend and collaborator, Sade Clacken Joseph, shares her surprise when he came out to her and the impact it had. They also discuss the life-threatening and unnecessary surgeries that intersex children are experiencing and how the medical system and our ideas of gender need to radically change.
Ponyboi has begun its international festival run, after which it will be released online. The filmmakers plan to develop it into a feature and continue making history by centering this intersex story. Ponyboi makes its U.S. and Los Angeles premieres in the Outfest Fusion film festival March 1. Follow Ponyboi and the filmmakers, River Gallo and Sade Clacken Joseph, on Instagram. Find out more on the film's website.
Video intern Lumiere Rostick contributed to this article.