Victoria “Miss Vickie” Cruz is a living legend and a well-known part of AVP history. Miss Vickie, a self-identified Stonewall veteran, broke a lot of barriers, including being the first transgender woman of color to receive the National Crime Victim Service Award from then-Attorney General Eric Holder. Miss Vickie supported survivors of all forms of violence, including intimate partner violence Her work helping survivors of hate violence while working with AVP became a focal point of a recently released documentary, “Pieces of Us,” now available on streaming platforms. The celebrated documentary profiles several survivors of anti-LGBTQ hate violence and their path to healing, including interviews with Cruz and Executive Director Beverly Tillery. Cruz reflects on her part of the documentary, and the part she played in the healing of others.
“I feel that I did my job,” says Cruz. “They’re still here. They have moved on.”
The film’s creators say they wanted to have a different focus from other documentaries while highlighting the impact of anti-LGBTQ violence on a group of survivors.
“Pieces Of Us could have easily been filmed as a straightforward documentary focusing solely on the rise of LGBTQ+ hate crimes, but I wanted more for this film,” said filmmaker Cheryl Allison in the press release. “While hate crime statistics and hearing personal accounts of assaults are incredibly important, I feel it is equally important to explore the path one chooses after surviving such a horrific event.”
“Pieces of Us” explores the aftermath and how survivors find love, hope and healing. And in her work with AVP, Cruz was able to help many on that healing journey. Cruz says that the positive impact of the work she and others do with AVP ripples through the community.
“One thing I have realized is that most of the people I have helped have gone on to help others,” says Cruz, who was also highlighted in a special by Lifetime/Variety for her work helping AVP board member and social worker Shay Huffman when she was a client of AVP. “That snowball effect to go help the community happens.”
“Pieces of Us” was filmed leading up to World Pride in New York City in 2020, amid changing perspectives on LGBTQ folks, and a particular increase in violence against transgender people. Cruz says that she’s seen the country shift dramatically and that now is a time for community action.
“Like, I said in the documentary, I’m much more afraid now than I was in the 60s and 70s,” she says, directly because of the impact of the election of former President Donald Trump. “Ever since [Trump] came out and spewed all that hate in this country, people think they have the right to spew it out and not have consequences.”
The film features stories of survivors like Mykel Dicus, an NYC-based performer and one of the film’s executive producers who connected with AVP after experiencing hate violence. There he met Cruz and began his journey to healing. Cruz says that all survivors can heal, she says, with faith in themselves.
“Have faith that they are an individual that was sent here for a purpose,” says Cruz. “You are not alone, we are not alone, there is power in numbers, and we have the numbers.”
AVP provides 24/7 crisis support through its hotline, its longest-running program supporting LGBTQ survivors of violence. Trained staff and volunteers connect survivors with counseling and legal services, advocacy services and resources.
The film is available on many major streaming platforms. To connect with AVP’s hotline, call 212-714-1141 or complete our Report Violence form.