Brave Spaces is an eight-part documentary series produced by Buffalo Toronto Public Media (WNED PBS) and hosted by Devin-Norelle (ze/zim/zis), a model, trans educator, and writer. Devin-Norelle takes audiences on a journey into LGBTQ+ communities to highlight brave individuals and groups shattering barriers and claiming their own spaces. From queer book clubs resisting book-banning efforts, to sports leagues, and places of worship, Devin-Norelle takes viewers on a journey into LGBTQ+ communities to highlight brave individuals and groups shattering barriers and claiming their own spaces.

Brave Spaces is produced by WNED PBS for PBS Digital Studios with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Lynne Bader and Christy May are Executive Producers for WNED PBS. M. Akram Shibly serves as Producer/Director. Tamar Price is Digital Executive Producer for Houston Public Media. Maribel Lopez is Executive in Charge and John Campbell is Assistant Director of Programming for PBS Digital Studios.

Brave Spaces is on PBS Voices, the organization’s home for documentaries on YouTube. Find all the episodes available here!

Episode 1: How One Queer Friendly Book Club Thrives in the Era of Book Bans

For generations, LGBTQ+ stories have been the target of censorship efforts. Early organizing against obscenity laws to make LGBTQ+ stories accessible laid the foundation of the Queer Liberation Movement. Today, the Gray Wills Book Club, in Buffalo, New York is a brave space to examine book banning efforts and how the power of literacy can reverse the effects of oppression on Black and Queer folk.

Episode 2: This Queer Bowling League Challenges Homophobia in Sports

Homophobia is rampant in sports, but that has not stopped the LGBTQ+ community from competing. For decades, the Buffalo Historical Bowling League has been a striking example of a brave space where one’s own sexual and gender identity is not a barrier. Devin-Norelle meets with the team and explores how sports can be a game-changer for LGBTQ+ mental health.

Episode 3: How This Transgender Hiker Found Sobriety and Herself in Nature

Lyla Harrod, a 36-year-old sober transgender woman, shares a video journal with Devin-Norelle of her thru-hike from the southern U.S. border to Canada. On the trail, she writes about her journeys while mentoring other Queer and trans hikers. As Lyla shares breathtaking views while on the trail, she opens us up to the idea that nature is a brave and healing space for all.

Episode 4: Lesbians Are Taking On Tech’s Big New Problem

From Tumblr to TikTok, technology and the internet have revolutionized Queer liberation. But how will AI’s rapid, unprecedented evolution impact LGBTQ+ folks on and offline? Join host Devin-Norelle as ze discovers Lesbians Who Tech & Allies, the largest community of LGBTQ+ technologists in the world and learns how Queer representation in the tech industry can stand up to bias in AI.

Episode 5: Inside the Black & Latino Ballroom Resurgence

Devin-Norelle steps into the vibrant underground world of Ballroom and explores how this transformative art form has become a beacon of acceptance, providing a chosen family for Black and Latino Queer youth. Meet the people who are cultivating the resurgence of Ballroom in Buffalo, New York, building community and creating a brave space for expression, celebration, and support.

Episode 6: How Gay Dads Are Finding Their Village Online

In this Brave Spaces episode, Devin-Norelle meets Rob and Rahsaan, gay fathers who feel like a sense of community is vital to their family. Through creating an online group aimed at connecting with others, Rob and Rahsaan have now developed meaningful connections online and in person. It’s a growing support system they rely on while navigating social and legal challenges gay dads can face.

Episode 7: Who’s Behind the Queer Asian Reclamation of Chinatown?

Devin-Norelle visits Sky Dragon restaurant, where the Queens of Dim Sum host a monthly drag brunch. This episode, directed by Lulu Wei, a Toronto-based filmmaker and Co-founder of New Ho Queen, celebrates Queer Asian joy. In the face of assimilation and gentrification, these groups strive to preserve Queer culture and Asian heritage and provide a chosen family for those in search of belonging.

Episode 8: Queer-Friendly Mosque Coming November 28, 2023

Religions and spiritual places are notorious for their anti-LGBTQ+ views, even if their original texts preach love and acceptance. Summeiya of the Queer Muslim Network is radically carving out space for Queer Muslims in Toronto and the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto has been modeling inclusivity for decades.

“I’m thrilled to work in collaboration with PBS to portray stories that are culturally relevant and historically accurate,” said Devin-Norelle. “The stories in this series are raw, fun, and radical, but also tender and relatable. This visibility is needed more than ever, to uplift a community subjected to constant persecution, and more importantly, to combat decades of misinformation about the Queer and Trans people across the nation.”

About the Host

Devin-Norelle (ze/zim/zis) is a professional model, TV Personality, budding actor, and writer with published work in GQ, Teen Vogue, Allure, them, and Out Magazine, among others. Devin-Norelle has walked in New York Fashion Week shows for Chromat and dapperQ, and was featured in the 2019 Stonewall 50 Pride Campaigns for New York City Pride and the clothing company, Bonobos. In 2019, ze was awarded the Callen Lorde Transcendence Award and in 2023, ze was honored with the Marsha Pm Johnson Institute Legacy Award for zis tireless work uplifting trans and non-binary communities. Devin-Norelle facilitates D&I Gender Expansive training individually and through the Phluid Project’s “G.E.T. Phluid” Program. As a former member of NYC Pride’s Community Council, ze has helped guide Heritage of Pride towards reducing police presence for future Pride marches and events.

About WNED PBS

Buffalo Toronto Public Media (BTPM) is a binational public broadcasting organization operating three television stations Buffalo Toronto Public Media (WNED PBS, WNED Create, WNED Kids) and three radio stations (WBFO, WBFO The Bridge, and WNED Classical). BTPM is a leading PBS member station in one of the top markets in the United States.​ BTPM is an established originator of content for both local and national broadcast. Over the last decade, WNED PBS has become a leading producer in original television documentaries and digital content.

About PBS Voices

PBS Voices is a documentary-themed YouTube channel by PBS Digital Studios, which brings together curated content from PBS member stations and independent filmmakers across the country. Programs featured on PBS Voices cover a diverse array of subjects which highlight unique perspectives while celebrating our shared human experiences.

About PBS Digital Studios

PBS Digital Studios produces original, digital programming designed to engage, enlighten, and entertain online audiences. The PBS Digital Studios network has more than 30 million subscribers on YouTube, generating an average of 50 million views each month. In 10 years, it has launched over 70 original series and has accumulated over four billion lifetime views on YouTube. Series include the Webby Award-winning BE SMART and SOUND FIELD, as well as popular series such as WEATHERED, EONS, MONSTRUM and PBS SPACE TIME. For more information on PBS Digital Studios, visit PBS.org.

 Photo Credit: PBS Digital Studios