The Dads (2023) Movie Script

My name is Stephen Chukumba,
and I'm the father of Hobbes.
My name is Frank Gonzales,
and I am the father of Libby Gonzales.
My name's Jose Trujillo,
and I'm the father of Dan.
My name is Peter Betz,
and I am the father of Samantha.
My name is Wayne Maines,
and I'm the father of Nicole Maines.
My name is Dennis Shepard.
I am the father of Matthew Shepard.
[soft music playing]
[Dennis] Last time I went fishing
was in August of 1998.
It was a family reunion in the Bighorns.
It was, uh, the last fishing trip
that we had with Matt.
I still remember running the loop through
and running the...
the lures or the... the swivel down
and tightening it,
and then tying a double knot.
Even if it's been 25 years,
you never lose that.
It's, uh, ingrained in your...
in your memory.
[soft music continues playing]
[Peter] The peacefulness
of standing out there on the water
and, like, looking around
and quietly fishing,
but knowing that you all have
each other's back,
and you're there for each other.
[Frank] I think back
to some of the outdoors experiences
that I've had with my dad.
This is what I want to pass on to my kids.
Respecting nature, loving nature.
But it's not safe for us all the time.
[Stephen] I definitely think
about my child's safety
when he leaves the house.
He is a Black man.
He is a Black trans man.
He's a Black trans man in America.
It's a constant conversation
I have with myself
because I know
that all parts of this country
are not safe for trans people.
[indistinct background conversation]
[Peter] In my daughter's case,
she grew up in the same town
and transitioned in that town.
And it was... seemed like it was fine,
and then she started
to get a false sense of security,
and when she started to talk
to the other classmates about it,
that's when it went really bad
and started losing all of her friends.
Do you think it was
the parent?
[Peter] I think
there was a parent component
because, simultaneously,
we lost all of our friends as well.
The America that I grew up idolizing,
you worked hard, and you were successful.
You could be anything you wanted to be.
But not these kids.
- I'm happy that we're at this table.
- [Peter] Right.
With all of our different backgrounds,
seeing the same fucked-up shit
happening to all of us,
and disabusing us from the belief
that this is some happy melting pot
where we can all just...
Like, that's bullshit.
[Jose] I came here
when I was nine years old. I'm 40.
I still have this feeling
of "I'm not in the right place."
And then I realize, uh,
it's kinda smoke and mirrors
because my trans son, who was born here,
is not just being questioned, uh,
with his rights and everything.
His humanity is being questioned.
My son came out,
and I didn't know anything from anything,
but I knew one of my fraternity brothers
was a pediatric psychiatrist,
and so I talked to him,
and he was just like, "Frat...
people aren't gonna tell you this,
people aren't gonna talk to you like this,
but I'm gonna tell you this right now,
if we was in my house,
that shit wouldn't be going down."
I had a therapist in the very beginning,
when we didn't even understand,
tell us that my profession
wasn't, um, masculine enough.
The life-changing moment
was meeting Wayne.
Being able to talk to another parent,
particularly another father.
My biggest regret
is how I pushed back on my daughter,
tried to get her
to wear different clothes.
It's a guilt I'll probably carry with me
for the rest of my life.
I took it as...
"I'm not engaging my child enough."
And so I pushed really hard.
"We're gonna throw the pigskin."
We had been fighting for so long
what we already knew.
The tipping point was Christmas.
My daughter didn't get
anything she wanted.
She got all stereotypical boys',
uh, things, boys' clothes.
The next year, she just wanted Santa
to turn her into a girl.
[Stephen] When my son first told me
that he felt like he was a boy,
I was confused because I was by myself.
I didn't have my wife,
who was the person on the front lines,
who could have figured it all out.
[Wayne] I'm one of the first dads
in the country to have a trans kid
who was out and open in school.
It was national news.
So I'd go out in the woods
and just escape.
One day, I was out, I was all alone.
I'm cutting this tree down.
Then, this branch comes down.
I just dodged being killed.
I sat down, and I said,
"What the hell are you afraid of?"
It wasn't Nicole.
It was me.
I was uncomfortable around my own child.
[Dennis] I'm the old geezer
who went through this 20 years ago.
[newsreader] The victim of what many
people say was a hate crime in Wyoming
this morning has died.
Twenty-one-year-old Matthew Shepard
was found beaten and unconscious last week
near the University of Wyoming.
[Dennis] Walking into that hospital room,
that's when we knew
that something's not right here.
He was our son first,
and we didn't care if he was
straight, gay...
He was our son.
They're fighting the same battle
right now.
Only it's worse.
[Wayne] This is almost... It's a little
smaller than the one I caught.
[Peter] This might be the one I caught.
I think this one is mine.
- This one's yours?
- [Peter] Yeah.
- [Jose] Oh, no, this one is mine.
- It was all of yours put together, right?
[Frank] Compliments to the chef.
Cheers to some amazing dads.
[glasses clink]
[Frank] Amazing men. I love you.
[indistinct chatter]
[Stephen] As a single dad
with nobody to bounce
any of this shit off of,
I'd be like, "I can't fail them.
Like, I can't fail my kids."
I'm not even talking about my trans child.
- I'm talking about all my kids.
- Yeah.
[Stephen] You hear what I'm saying?
Everybody's impacted by what happens.
Absolutely right.
[Stephen] My wife passed away.
You know, the person
who set up these kids to be successful
while I was working is gone.
And now I'm dealing
with my child identifying as... Like...
- "What?"
- [Wayne] You lost your partner, your wife.
- You know, man, I did not know that.
- Yeah.
And it's one of those things where it's
just like you gotta keep moving forward.
Like, your kids need that stability.
They need me to be present
and on the front line.
I'm aware that I cannot do it alone.
As much as, like, you know, you...
you know, put on your cape
and, you know, you do what you gotta do,
the reality is that we cannot survive
in isolation from one another.
Finding you all
saved my life.
[Wayne] It wasn't about fishing.
It was about sharing.
A chance for them
to escape for a little while.
So many trans families don't make it
because the dads aren't on board.
They gotta fight
and figure out why they're afraid.
[Dennis] Dads have that masculine image
they want to try and keep up.
They have to get out and speak.
They have to show people
that they support their child, uh, 100%.
[Frank] It was important for me,
as a father, to speak out.
It was a healing thing.
[Jose] The thread that connects us all
is that we love our children
and are willing
to put everything on the line
for other people's children as well.
[Peter] In some ways,
it's gotten a lot better,
and then in other ways,
it's also a very scary time.
We all need to get back into the fight.
[Stephen] We're not doing it
with our heads bowed.
We're doing it
with a full-throated support
of this movement.
We're letting people know we're here.
We're not gonna shy away.
We're not gonna be in the shadows.
We're not gonna be scared.
We're gonna confront this head-on
because that's all we can do.
We have to make the way safe
for our children.
[gentle blues music playing]