Jenn and Debb Richmond are getting the Hollywood treatment.
Hulu flew them to Los Angeles last week for the red-carpet premiere of "We Live Here: The Midwest," a documentary that features the West St. Paul couple shopping at Rosedale Center mall and socializing at Topgolf in Brooklyn Center.
The Richmonds also are braced for the backlash. That's because the documentary, which starts streaming Wednesday on Hulu, examines the discrimination that LGBTQ families face in the heartland.
"I know we'll get negative stuff. I expect that," said Debb, who, like her partner, is a transgender woman. "I've already locked down my Facebook profile and I'm working on doing the same on Instagram."
Those featured in the one-hour film are used to the haters.
In the film, Debb says that her ex-wife told her that their youngest son would kill her if he had the chance.
Minnesota Rep. Heather Keeler, DFL-Moorhead, shares how she's received death threats for being both Indigenous and queer.
"People are still shook that we're here," she tells the filmmakers.
Others featured in the film include an Iowa couple who stayed together after one of them transitioned from male to female, a Black gay couple battling blowback in the church where they met, a lesbian couple homeschooling their son in Kansas and an Ohio choir teacher who inspires his LGBTQ students.
Director Melinda Maerker said in a recent Zoom interview that the biggest challenge was finding families courageous enough to let cameras into their lives.
"A lot of families didn't want to participate for fear of retribution," said Maerker, who had one Wisconsin couple back out at the last minute. "We had to build a rapport before they trusted us. There were a lot of Zoom chats and phone calls before we actually came out to film."
Footage was shot in 2022, but editing took longer than expected. Then Hulu decided to hold the film so it would land during the holiday season. The delay might work in the film's favor.
"We're in a time now that the third most powerful person in the government holds well-documented, antagonistic, dangerous views about the LGBT community," said producer David Miller, referring to the new Speaker of the House Mike Johnson. "This is something we have not had to face before. The release of the film comes at a pivotal time for these families."
The Richmonds are quick to point out that they have it easier than the other four families in the movie, simply by living in a metro area which has a greater support system. Miller, who is gay, said he was more comfortable walking the streets of Minneapolis than he was taking strolls in the rural towns they shot in.
The lesbian couple, who run a farm in Oskaloosa, Kan., had to pull their son out of school after he came home spewing anti-gay rhetoric. He is now one of their biggest supporters.
"In some areas, like where there are laws in place forbidding certain medical care, it's way worse," Debb said in an interview last week. "We're very lucky here, I think."
Still, the Richmonds may have made themselves more vulnerable than the other four families. They are open about the tension that followed Jenn's transition and the impact it had on her first marriage. Jenn's two daughters and her ex-wife sat for the cameras, sharing how it took time for everyone to adjust to the changes.
Jenn knows that some viewers will be impossible to win over. But she didn't agree to share her story for them.
"You can cite science and doctors and there are just some people who are not going to listen. They're going to believe what they want to believe," she said, the day before hopping on that flight to Los Angeles where she hoped to see the Hollywood sign for the first time. "You reach the people who might be on the fence. Maybe your story can help them out. I'm pretty easygoing. You let the criticism roll off one shoulder and pick the battles with the people you think you might be able to have an influence on."