The history of the LGBTQ community is often told in big, bold strokes. That’s not the case in The Whistle, a documentary feature directed by StormMiguel Florez. By focusing on the queer history of his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico, during the 1970s and 1980s, this queer Chicanx trans man is intent on giving voice to the oft-forgotten stories of the local, LGBTQ community. In this case, the doc takes the filmmaker back to the time when he came out as and identified as a dyke in 1987 — during his freshman year at Del Norte High School in Albuquerque. During that time, several of his lesbian peers took him under their wings and taught him how to navigate the stresses and joys of being a young dyke in Albuquerque in the mid 1980s. They took him to house parties, introduced him to lesbians from other high schools, cruised the parking lots of gay bars that they were too young to get into, and taught him slang like “wrecked” (the process of coming out as a dyke) and “1-4-3” (code for “I love you”). And, as the title suggests, they taught him “the dyke whistle.”
The high-pitched, but quite subtle whistle was a code of sorts. As many of Florez’s subjects share in the trailer for this crowdfunded doc, the whistle was a way to let other girls know you too were a lesbian. “It was part of the language that we used in order to protect ourselves,” one woman clarifies. For this was still a time and a place when homophobia ran rampant, when all of these young girls knew there was a line never to be crossed.
With heartwarming, conversational interviews with out and proud lesbians interwoven with archival photos from their youth, The Whistle looks to be both a local history lesson and a loving portrait of a community. Committed to uplifting that very community, Florez made sure that the film crew and post-production crew were almost entirely made up of queer and trans people.
Check out the trailer for the doc below.