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‘Rogers Park’ Director Once Thought His Sexuality Would Derail His Dreams

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Houston native Kyle Henry returns for screening at Museum of Fine Arts.

By Lourdes Zavaleta

Growing up, gay filmmaker Kyle Henry thought his sexuality might prevent him from becoming a filmmaker.

“When I was exploring my identity, there weren’t many role models for young, queer men who wanted to be filmmakers,” Henry recalls. “I knew I wanted to tell stories that were truthful and would express who I was, but I didn’t think that someone like me could do that.”

Kyle Henry

Henry, a Houston native, will return Thursday, March 22 for a screening of his third film, Rogers Park, which tells the story of two middle-aged, interracial couples struggling to keep their love alive, at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH). The screening begins at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Henry.

Though filmmaking was always his passion, Henry initially studied biology at Rice University until deciding to pursue a degree in art and art history. He went on to earn his a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Rice in 1994, followed by a master’s in film production at the University of Texas-Austin in 1999.

While in graduate school, he met his partner, actor Carlos Treviño, at a black hearts party on Valentine’s Day. The couple of 18 years, who lived in Austin for 10 years before relocating to Chicago, have collaborated on Henry’s projects since his first feature film, Room, debuted in 2005.

Treviño wrote the screenplay for and stars in Rogers Park, which was shot in and named after the culturally diverse neighborhood where he and Henry reside. Treviño plays the role of Lepatano, a therapist whom viewers have perceived as queer because he mentions having a partner.

“The word ‘partner’ can be used romantically, but it doesn’t have to mean that,” Henry says. “That is a part of an LGBTQ person’s identity, when they announce who they are, what they are, and to whom. I believe most people assume rightfully that Lepatano is queer.”

Henry says his own sexuality has made him more empathetic to the range of possibilities in characterization and storytelling. He hopes audience members of all backgrounds at MFAH will fully engage with the film, looking past traditional themes of race and sexuality.

“Even though the story is about two straight, black and white couples, there is something universal about having to struggle and being open to change,” Henry says. “Viewers should expect to see a film that is funny, sad, and gets them to think about the second coming of age that is midlife.”

What: Rogers Park Screening and Q&A with Kyle Henry
When: 7 p.m. , Thursday, March 22
Where: Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1001 Bissonet Street
Tickets: mfah.org

 

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John Wright

John Wright is the editor of OutSmart magazine. He has spent two decades in the mainstream and LGBTQ media. Most recently, he served as senior editor of Dallas Voice, and covered LGBTQ issues in the state Legislature for The Texas Observer. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Wright earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida. He resides in the EaDo area of Houston, where he is currently remodeling a 1930s row house.
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