“Gemmel & Tim” Serves a Timely Doc About Seeking Justice in the Queer Community – *Outfest2021*

Gemmel and Tim documentary Outfest 2021 review
“Gemmel & Tim” Documentary (Image: PR)

With Ed Buck being convicted in July of this year, Gemmel & Tim is definitely a timely documentary shedding light on the titular gay Black men and how their deaths impacted the queer community.

I was provided with a free digital screener of Gemmel & Tim for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

In my opinion, Gemmel & Tim ended up being a well-constructed documentary. It introduced both men, shared their upbringing, and offered a narrative that showed how they were connected via Ed Buck. Gemmel “Juelz” Moore died in 2017 while Timothy “Tim” Dean died in 2019. It can be argued that Tim’s death could have been avoided if the police and justice system had acted in time to put a stop to Ed Buck back in 2017. The line about how the response would have been very different if the body of a White young man had been found in the house of a Black man was impactful.

A lot of times media tends to sensationalize such horrific events, using the victims to push a certain viewpoint instead of thinking of them as actual human beings. With Gemmel and Tim dying of a meth overdose, certain media outlets began implying that the two deserved what had happened to them because of their troubled lives. Even Timothy’s past as a part-time adult film actor was used against him. A number of outlets even tried to brush away the story. Not only that, with Buck being a former Republican who ended up becoming a Democratic donor, a lot of media was more interested in talking about the politics of it all instead of seeking justice for the two gay Black men. 

In June of 2021, Marvel comic book writer Leah Williams, for some reason, decided to portray a similar story in X-Factor issue 10. Without going into detail in this review, the issue had Prodigy track down his killer, a film producer named Buck Thatcher. X-Factor issue 10 had a scene clearly showing two dead bodies hidden away in Thatcher’s house. Understandably, this particular X-Factor issue was called out for handling the entire thing quite sloppily. The timing was criticized, especially with Buck’s conviction being in July. Others criticized how certain creatives use Black pain as plot devices for their fictional work.

In contrast, Gemmel & Tim ended up being a documentary with a lot of heart. One of the highlights is how director Michiel Thomas and the team focused on Gemmel and Timothy as human beings. They had family, friends, and more. Interviews with Gemmel and Timothy’s relatives and friends will tug at your heartstrings. Each interviewee bares their soul talking and share their journey when it came to not only seeking justice for the titular men but how they addressed their own grief and loss.

How the interviewees felt a sense of guilt for not helping enough was understandable. There’s only so much you can do if the person you want to reach out to pretends everything is fine or closes themselves off from any type of aid. Seeing how Gemmel and Timothy’s deaths impacted their respective friends and family, and the queer community as a whole, is portrayed quite well.

Seeing what Gemmel and Timothy had in common as well as their differences will enable you to make sense of how they got closer to Buck as he continued on his mission to prey on vulnerable Black men to feed his twisted sense of pleasure. Buck had victimized many others, but Gemmel and Timothy were the ones who shared a tragic fate.

Along with offering details about the titular men, this documentary also makes sure to highlight what went into securing justice for Buck’s victims, with Jasmyne Ariel Cannick playing an important role. It was an uphill battle for the queer community as they faced homophobia and systemic racism along the way.

The doc also shares the steps that can be taken to ensure other Ed Bucks out there don’t keep harming the vulnerable. There’s a lot of talk about mental health and how many are unable to properly cope with their issues, opting for substance abuse to ease the pain.

Queer PoC folk are severely at risk in the USA (experiencing homelessness, unemployment, mental issues, drug use, and more). While the queer community does what it can to protect and support each other, major changes are required from the government to ensure the queer community gets the help it needs. With the government delaying to offer the required aid, certain evil people will continue to prey on the queer community.

Gemmel and Tim documentary 2021 review
“Gemmel & Tim” Documentary (Image: PR)

You can clearly tell this project’s close to the director’s heart because of what it shows and what it wants to say. Thomas, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community in Los Angeles, shared:

According to the DCD, from 2008 to 2017, the number of fatalities from meth in LA county rose by 707%; approximately one death per day. An alarming trend that I witness with my own eyes – in 2020 I myself lost a friend due to the meth epidemic.

I’m a member of the LA gay basketball league (LAMBDA), where Tim Dean used to play, so Tim’s death has affected my close social circle deeply. I hear their outcry for justice and I want to play my part in ensuring Gemmel and Tim’s deaths weren’t in vain. By shedding a light on their lives, told by authentic voices who knew them best, I want to provide Gemmel and Tim’s extended family a platform to grieve, to show who their friend really was, and to offer solutions to prevent these tragic events from happening in the future. I am extremely blessed to collaborate with very talented, diverse and beautiful souls on this project.

Gemmel & Tim is definitely a documentary you should consider watching to better understand what happened to Ed Buck’s victims and why it took so long for Gemmel and Timothy to gain justice. We all know there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done when it comes to how the justice system treats minorities.  

After having an in-person screening today during Outfest 2021, Gemmel & Tim will have virtual screenings from August 16 – August 18, 2021. You can get your tickets here.

You can read more of our Outfest 2021 coverage here. Including more reviews and interviews, we have got a lot planned for this year’s festival. Keep an eye out!

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.


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