Review: 'Gemmel & Tim' Exposes a Shocking Story of Racism and Sexual Predation

by Roger Walker-Dack

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday October 10, 2021

'Gemmel & Tim'
'Gemmel & Tim'  (Source:Outfest)

On July 27th, 66-year-old Ed Buck a prominent Democratic donor, was finally convicted of a nine-count indictment that included charges that he supplied the methamphetamine that killed two men during "party and play" encounters at his apartment. It is hopefully the final chapter of two harrowing tales that started back in 2017 and had been a source of anger for both the local queer and Black communities.

Now their story has been told by local filmmaker Michiel Thomas as a means to honor the lives of Gemmel "Julez" Moore and Timothy (Tim) Dean, and finally tell their real stories by the people who knew and loved them.

There was a major outcry back in 2017 when the body of Gemmel was found in Ed Buck's apartment. His death from a meth overdose was hastily ruled as accidental, and despite the concerted efforts of Gemmel's family and friends, Buck was never charged with anything. Two years later, when Tim Dean's body was found in very similar circumstances, the authorities sat back and let the media run wild with biased judgments instead of launching a serious inquiry.

The full-on media coverage, which seemed to go unchecked, tilted toward tabloid headlines and lurid tales of sex and drugs. The news stories were also full of rampant homophobia and unfettered racism, painting outrageous and accusatory images of Gemmel and Tim rather than focusing on who the two men really were.

Full credit to Thomas, who also served as the film's cinematographer and co-editor, for the calm and measured way he tells the men's stories. The subject is not just very harrowing but also highly emotional, as the men's supporters and families had to overcome major obstacles to seek any sort of justice.

Seeing it all detailed and laid out is beyond shocking, especially for those who might only have known the bare bones of the story. As a community, we may still be used to less than full support from some metropolitan police forces, but is stunning when elected officials in a supposedly liberal city seem to not want to pursue an allegedly powerful man like Buck.

The men's relatives and friends were never allowed to grieve (up to, now at least), but they at least they channeled their energies in getting justice for Gemmel and Tim, and also letting the world know who they really were after they had been robbed of their lives, their reputations, and their very existence.

It's easy to hate Buck not just for what he did to these, and other men he had forced into shooting up drugs, but also for the fact that he may just be the tip of an iceberg. We will never know how many other predators there are out there like him, but maybe if we take the lesson from this film seriously, we can stop some of them in their tracks.

"Gemmel & Tim" screens at OUTshine Fort Lauderdale and Seattle Queer Film Festival

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.