GLAAD Media Award nominated filmmaker Luchina Fisher is set to debut her new documentary short The Dads on Netflix November 17th. Executive produced by Dwyane Wade and Jon Marcus, the film features fathers of queer kids including Stephen Chukumba, Frank Gonzales, Jose Trujillo, Peter Betz, Wayne Maines, as well as Dennis Shepard, the father of Matthew Shepard, as they talk about their love for their children while on a fishing trip in rural Oklahoma.
The documentary aims to connect with queer folks and help them examine their own relationships with their fathers — for better or worse. Fisher told GLAAD in a recent interview that she has seen so many emotional reactions since the film debuted. “I hope it opens a new conversation and brings some healing,” said Fisher.
Read our full interview with Fisher below.
What was the motivation behind making The Dads?
The motivation was really to show that dads that have trans kids come in every geography, race, region, and experience. I know this because I work alongside these dads and the parents for Transgender Equality Council for the Human Rights Campaign. In 2020, we were all at Time to Thrive, a conference for LGBTQ youth. They were talking about taking a trip at some point to go hunting or hiking or fishing. I was just like, “Hey, that’s something people. wouldn’t expect. — dads supporting LGBTQ youth [while fishing].” That’s actually a great juxtaposition. That would be incredible on camera. I invited myself along and they said yes. I brought a small crew and after the pandemic in 2022, we spent a weekend in Broken Bow, Oklahoma and what you see is what transpired.
What is something you didn’t expect to learn about yourself while making this film?
My first film was Mama Gloria — which was a 2022 GLAAD Media Award nominee — that was focused on moms. Mother’s love, that love that Gloria had for her trans chosen children. I saw how my dad struggled with my brother who was gay and I think I just felt like these dads who were really showing up — they needed to be seen. We needed to hear that narrative, because we don’t hear it all the time. A lot of time, we hear that dads are not supportive — that mom is the one who shows up. I really wanted to challenge that. What did I learn? Healing.
Seeing my husband show up in the way that he does for our daughter and also seeing how the dads were vulnerable on set. In my own moments of being upset about around these issues, I wanted to show that they could comfort me. There was something healing for me.
They are connected now and they’re already planning another trip — with more dads.
How was it like to have Dennis Shepard and Dwyane Wade as EP as well as all these fathers sculpting the narrative?
I make work from a place of love and healing. I think this was something that Dennis recognized as being really important to lend his voice to. Even though he really feels like this is not his journey, necessarily, it’s still his fight, He’s traveled so much this year, this is a 25th anniversary of [Matthew Shepard’s death] and I didn’t even recognize that when we were filming. You know, all timing is divine.
Dennis represents this journey he started 25 years ago, Dwyane Wade represents the journey now. I think these are important voices and we’re so happy to have them lifting the film and getting the eyeballs on it. We want it to reach everybody — not just dads of LGBTQ kids, but all people. We need allies. We need people to understand what we’re going through and how we can show up for each other and just have more love in the world.
The film premiered at SXSW and has since had an amazing festival run before Netflix acquired it. What are some of the most memorable reactions to the film that you have witnessed since it debuted?
Oh my God, I mean, there’s certainly a couple… just that moment of being at the [SXSW] premiere, and all the dads in the audience. They hadn’t seen it yet. I was like, “are they gonna like it?”
They were in a puddle of tears.
For Dennis, who had been a little on the periphery… for him to get emotional and nearly down in tears and say, “I am so grateful that I am a part of this film.” It is so important. For them to say that I captured their experience and the truth and the authenticity of that that weekend — that’s everything. That’s enough.
The Dads premieres on Netflix on November 17th.