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Walking the WeHo Strip with Outfest Fellow and Writer Jorge Molina

It’s a beautiful sunny October day in Los Angeles, and writer Jorge Molina and I are walking down the West Hollywood strip. I snap polaroids of him as we walk, and he gives me a rundown of his favorite bars in this famously gay paradise.

Best margaritas? (Fiesta Cantina) Best trivia nights? (High Tops) Best musical theater nights? (Mondays at Rage) Best last stop? (Flaming Saddles)

I’ve known Jorge since we met in the USC screenwriting program years ago. Jorge’s voice as a writer was always distinct: clever and sometimes dark observations filled with heart. His latest feature, DETECTIVE JAMES MORTENSEN AND THE CASE OF THE GOLDEN CANDELABRA got him into the Outfest Fellowship and had a live table read.

The script combines Jorge’s love of Agatha Christie detective stories with his deftness for creating clever concepts, and the story follows a young boy who tries to cope with the unexpected death of his older brother by imagining his funeral, and everyone in it, as a classic detective murder mystery.

For this piece, I asked Jorge to take me to a place in LA that means something to him and has had a defining impact on his life — and one of those places is the iconic Santa Monica Boulevard strip in WeHo. And, in classic Jorge fashion, his observations make me stop think about everything in a new light.

“Gayness is its own nationality, its own culture with national heroes — and a flag.” Jorge gestures to the rainbow flag flying in the middle of the bustling WeHo strip as we walk. “I view being gay in the same way I see my Mexican heritage. There’s landmarks and history for both.”

It’s true: gay culture is a culture. Especially in Los Angeles, a more welcoming and inclusive city that is known for its vibrant pride parades, incredible gay bar nightlife, and colorful celebrations.

“I can’t say that when I go out here I perfectly fit the mold,” Jorge confesses, “but I think this street encompasses all the the complexities and the things I love and hate about the gay community.”

It’s About Community

Jorge’s also a community builder: he co-founded the Immigrants Artist Festival that brings together emerging immigrant artists currently working in the U.S. to screen their films at the Mexican Consulate, encouraging connection and collaboration.

Being an immigrant on a visa out in Los Angeles comes with its own set of perilous challenges: but Jorge’s found ways to manage it. He’s connected with others who’ve been through the artist visa process, and has even created an Awesome Assistants subgroup on Facebook to create a place for immigrant artists to share the ups and downs of the red tape that challenges their existence in Los Angeles.

That’s not to say that the process isn’t burdensome and extremely expensive — it is. It’s hard enough to be an artist in Los Angeles, but when you add the expenses of legal fees and the amount of paperwork and time that goes into the visa process, it’s a beast of a struggle.

And on top of all this — Jorge somehow has retained his signature sense of humor. Every time I see him, he’s not only crossed insurmountable hurdles and achieved awesome new things, but he’s retained who he is through the stress and pressure.

Recently, he even got to program for a festival he was working at, and got to select the horror film that would play at midnight. The movie Jorge chose was Poison for the Fairies, an 80s Mexican children's psychological horror movie about two little girls where one of them convinces the other one that she's a witch.

The Simple Reminder in a Cup of Coffee

As we finish our walk, Jorge grows a little nostalgic. After all, living in West Hollywood is proof of how far he’s come. Jorge recalls an ordinary Sunday morning from a few weeks back, going to the coffeeshop down the street from his apartment to buy coffee and snacks for his hungover friends from Mexico sleeping in his apartment after an eventful night out.

“It was normal for me — just the simple act of walking down a street in WeHo to get coffee, but I thought about how my younger self would think everything I’m doing is just so cool. How incredible just living and being here and doing what I love,” Jorge says.

It’s true: and Jorge’s career is only just beginning. I think his younger self will continue to be in awe of what’s to come.

You can follow Jorge on Twitter at @ColorMeJorge.


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