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River Gallo On What Led Them To ‘Ponyboi’ At Sundance Premiere – “Being Intersex, Being Latinx, Being From New Jersey”

An moved and moving River Gallo thanked a full and cheering house for turning out to the premiere of Ponyboi. The intersex actor starred in film, which is both a crime thriller and exploration of gender and identity. Gallo is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.

Gallo also wrote the screenplay based on a theater piece they had developed at at NYU. Estaban Arango directed.

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Unfolding over the course of Valentine’s Day in a seedy area of New Jersey, a young intersex sex worker must run from gangsters after a drug deal goes sideways, forcing him to confront his past. Gallo is the heart of the gritty crime drama that’s also an exploration of masculinity, femininity and judgmental hierarchies that exist inside the queer world as well as out. Being Intersex is medical/anatomical — when a person generally appears to be one sex but has the dominant anatomy of the other. Or, a person is born in between the typical male and female sexes. Intersex people like Ponyboi are confusing to everyone.

“It made me think about the different ways that all people are affected by the patriarchy, even within the queer community, where one would think you’d be in a safe space. But it’s pervasive,” Gallo said.

A Q&A called out one scene in particular for praise, one where an increasingly desperate Ponyboi and a trans woman club owner played by Indya Moore have a sharp exchange before calming down and conversing about how hard it is find one true self.

“Indy and I, we worked on that dialogue together, and we crafted that scene to a point where, yeah, it was something so special to me too,” Gallo said. “Honestly, I can confidently say this is the first time a scene between an intersex person and maybe a trans questioning person, and a trans woman, are talking to each other about the differences and similarities of their experience. This is the first time that’s ever happened in cinema.”

“I think as a queer and intersex and non-binary person, I really need to push the envelope of the kinds of stories and the nuances that we’re exploring in the storytelling.”

Gallo called the premiere at the Library Theatre “probably the happies moment of my life right now” and said it started “out of a desire to want to express the different ways in which I felt like an outsider in my life” with “intersecting identities — being intersex, being Latinx, being from New Jersey.”

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