In Melinda Maerker and David Clayton Miller’s compassionate documentary, “We Live Here: The Midwest,” families facing unique challenges in the American Heartland share their stories of resilience and perseverance. Whether born and raised in the Midwest or transplants from other parts of the country, LGBTQ+ parents navigate a landscape that doesn’t always overflow with kindness for queer and trans individuals raising families.
The film introduces us to diverse families in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Ohio, and Minnesota, each forged through relationships that stirred controversy in their communities. Some faced lost jobs, ended marriages, and strained relationships, yet they remain committed to nurturing roots in the Heartland.
Through interviews with families like Nia and Katie, a Des Moines couple facing the passive-aggressiveness of “Iowa Nice,” and Mario and Monte, a Black gay couple finding acceptance on an Air Force base outside Omaha, the documentary explores the multifaceted experiences of queer and trans individuals in the Midwest.
The filmmakers opt for a straightforward approach, relying on static interviews with family and friends against the backdrop of suburban and rural settings. While stories of challenges conquered and enemies confronted are insightful and authentic, the documentary lacks the messy emotional pull of real life, resulting in a portrait that, while fascinating, lacks urgency.
“We Live Here: The Midwest” provides a glimpse into the vast and varied queer experience across America, showcasing resilience, diversity, and the ongoing quest for acceptance in the Heartland.