Chronicling the real-life rape and murder of a transgendered man after a group of acquaintances, including his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, learn of his birth gender, Boys Don’t Cry was the first movie about violence against the gay community that went mainstream.
Brandon Teena moves to a small town in Nebraska to begin life as a man. He is thrilled to be accepted for his new gender and soon falls in love with beautiful Lana. But Lana's friends are not as able to accept Teena, with tragic consequences.
Though it goes far beyond the scope of bullying what occurs is a hate crime the movie highlights the fear that often motivates aggression. As the movie's producer Christine Vachon told the New York Times just after the movie's release: "It's not just about two stupid thugs who killed somebody. It's about these guys whose world is so tenuous and so fragile that they can't stand to have any of their beliefs shattered."
Released around the time of Matthew Shepard's murder, the movie helped express the desire for tougher hate crime laws in the United States and sparked a conversation about the discrimination facing those with different sexualities and gender identities.
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