Check It: Turning Tables on Bullying, LGBT Gang to Be Featured in Documentary

Gang to be featured in new documentary by local independent filmmakers

They gather mostly at night in Southwest D.C. and sometimes Trinidad to socialize and support each other in a world that still is mostly tough on them.

Dominic "Skittles" Smith, 22, is one of the founders of a unique gang called Check It, made up of as many as 200 or more LGBT youth ages 15 to 24.

"Basically when we come outside every day, it's always problems," Skittles said. "Like, basically, people would pick on us because we were gay... and after awhile, you just kind of get fed up. We kind of formed Check It as protection, so we can protect each other," he said.

Skittles is a key character in a new documentary called "Check It" by local independent filmmakers Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer, who are best known for their HBO special "The Nine Lives of Marion Barry."

The duo has followed the LGBT group for several years, filming their social life and strife.

"It's just an amazing story and it's a totally unique phenomenon," Flor said. "These are the most amazing characters, the most cinematic people you could ever hope to meet," she said in her Glover Park house that doubles as a editing studio and home for her own three teenaged sons.

Skittles -- who's not nicknamed for the candy, but for his penchant to change hair colors -- said the gang, which he prefers to call a family, has given new hope to young people rejected by their families or others.

He acknowledged some gang members have had brushes with the law.

"Lately, we have improved our lives... working... going back to school, you know, trying to better ourselves to get a better aspect on life," he said. Skittles is working as a hair stylist to earn money. "We decided to take a better path and alternate route," he said.

He said he's looking forward to seeing the movie.

Flor said the filmmakers are nearing a final cut and still raising funds through the fundraising site Indiegogo, which had raised nearly $25,000 as of Wednesday afternoon. The film was featured March 5 in Variety.

"One of the reasons that we were so interested in doing this story," she said, "[is] because these kids are the marginalized of the marginalized. Their families put some of them out, a lot of them. They weren't accepted because they were gay."

But Flor doesn't minimize the trouble the young people themselves can cause.

"They're also difficult to help," she said. "They have a lot of issues."

But Flor says the community the young people have created is making a difference.

"It's a story about a gay gang here in D.C. that was formed because they were bullied -- and they turned the tables."

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