Leo Herrera’s 50 Years of Gay History in Five Minutes, Updated to Remember Orlando

Leo Herrera and I originally worked on promoting this amazing piece, in 2013, to celebrate pride and showcase obscure examples of gay history.  I’ve watched it more than a hundred times and it still brings tears to my eyes. Take a moment and see for yourself: video link.

Unlike other marginalized minority groups, gay history isn’t something that is shared widely in school curriculums or in most home by parents with their children; it’s one the community must tell.

Decode the clips from the video, here.


A digital anthropological dig into obscure images and footage “The Fortune Teller” is comprised of clips curated by Leo to represent the past, present, and future of the gay man.

Showcasing 50 years of gay history in just over five Minutes, filmmaker Leo updated his 2013 gay Pride classic to honor the lives lost in Orlando and bring light the positive impact of PrEP.

The fast pace and engaging imagery help span generational gaps in the telling and sharing of gay history.

You can find additional details in the press release included, below. 


Orlando Events and PrEP Added to Culturally Significant Short Documentary of Gay History – “The Fortune Teller”

 Herrera Studios Celebrates PRIDE with Updated Global Anthropology of Rare Gay Photos and Recent Footage, and Encourages People to Share Their Own Stories 

Leo Herrera, a NYC-based visual artist, filmmaker, writer and advocate with a focus on cataloging and presenting gay history, has released an update to his viral video the “The Fortune Teller” in response to it being circulated widely in the wake of the Orlando LGBTQ hate crime, that killed 49. This new version also includes footage to reflect the positive impact Truvada, also known as PrEP, has had in reducing the risk of HIV infection.

First released in 2013, to celebrate gay history and pride, the widely viewed video gained new momentum as the news of Orlando spread over social media. It became clear that a time capsule of gay history would need to include recent events, as the impact on the community is immense. 

“As more people started to share the video online, updating it became a priority to honor our fallen brothers and sisters in Orlando,” explained Herrera. “The goal of the Fortune Teller has always been to document and remember where we came from, recognize the struggles and attacks we have overcome, and also celebrate the progress gained through the fight and sacrifices of those that came before us. While the Orlando tragedy is a terrible reminder that there is still much progress to be made, there is also good news to be shared such as the availability of PrEP.”

Share your story along with the video:

The Fortune Teller does not attempt to be an all-encompassing history; the clips in the Fortune Teller were curated based on icons and moments personally selected by Leo as they defined him as a gay man and the gay community world over.

To add your story, post the video link with something you remember or would like others to recognize that tells a unique story of struggle or pride, along with the hashtag: #futurepresentpastgay

“In addition to schooling younger and older gays and a wider audience on global LGBTQ struggles, the hope is that with each person sharing their own history with being gay, coming out, or perhaps sharing the story of someone in their life who has come out to them, we will create a positive movement,” said Herrera. “The idea that as a culture we DO have a past, present and future is something that is very, very powerful. Who better to tell these stories than ourselves?”

About “The Fortune Teller”
“The Fortune Teller” is comprised of 50 years of imagery and footage. The 5:41 minute clip took six months to film and assemble, and is made up of 100 carefully selected clips. The style is a take on Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” video, or The Scissor Sister’s “Let’s Have a KiKi”. It also pays homage to some of our modern day gay “preachers,” such as Chris Crocker, Lohanthony and  Kid Fury, who developed ways to use technology to reach one another.

Taking us on a psychedelic journey into pinnacle and primal moments of gay history, on a global scale, “The Fortune Teller” informs our community and a wider audience, of the struggles and triumphs that continue to punctuate and define gay culture while reminding us Pride isn’t just about parties and parades.

 Instead of presenting and rehashing the typical gay icon footage in both the media and the gay community, such as 1970s gay pride footage or an American white gay male wedding, Herrera explores scenes with a focus on the multi-cultural, global gay experience. For instance highlighting the “Mexican Elton John” Juan Gabriel instead of the expected Elton John.  A full list of key clips with accompanying images to decode “The Fortune Teller” can be found here, http://www.homochic.com/fortuneteller/

 About Gay/Artist and Activist Leo Herrera
“I grew up an illegal Mexican immigrant in Republican Arizona, as far from ‘gay’ as possible. Yet, the challenges and hopes I’ve faced as a gay man are the same as all of my peers across the world, because homosexuality can transcend culture, geography and race. Homophobia is the same in New York City as it is in Russia. HIV and its stigma are as devastating in the South as they are in San Francisco. Our sexual freedom is as reviled in America as in Uganda…and yet we are all moving forward on a global scale. Our contributions to nightlife and the arts are as pronounced in Berlin as they are in Provincetown. The legalization of our unions is spanning continents, The unmistakable softness of our gestures transcends language. I don’t know if these universal similarities make homosexuality a culture or a shared experience. What I do know is that they stir a deep pride in me that is almost religious.”




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