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Released in 1994, the short film, Trevor, shares the story of a 13-year-old boy as he navigates the complexities of sexual orientation in America. Written by James Lecesne, the short film incorporates his personal experiences with growing up as a queer individual in the LGBTQ+ community and the socio-political concerns of rising suicide rates of LGBTQ+ youth. Throughout the film, Trevor must traverse the intricacies of sexual orientation in 1981, while facing a lack of support from his parents, and harsh criticism from his friends and peers. Trevor, as a rhetorical act, holds great significance in the United States with the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance in society today. The film won the Academy Award for best short film in 1995 and with its creation launched the Trevor Project, a well-known LGBTQ+ initiative focused on suicide prevention and support for LGBTQ+ youths across the country. In the Trevor Project’s recent 2021 study of LGBTQ+ youth mental health the organization found that “42% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth” (The Trevor Project, 2021, pg.1). The significance of, Trevor, and its attempt to address LGBTQ+ support continues to impact the lives of LGBTQ+ youths through the efforts of The Trevor Project over the last two decades. The following analysis investigates, how does the short film, Trevor, connect LGBTQ+ rights to a larger social movement for equality? First, I analyze the historical context and respective constraints of the rhetor, his audience, and the subject employed through this rhetorical act. Subsequently, I analyze the persuasive aspects of the short films discourse using descriptive analysis. Finally, after evaluating the effectiveness of the rhetorical act, I discuss the implications and possible alternative approaches to the short film’s subject matter.




South Dakota State University


© 2022 Alexis Johnson