Leo Herrera is a Mexican self-taught visual artist, activist and writer based in San Francisco. His work focuses on the American queer experience, politics and history. His short, viral films have been seen by millions, featured in global media outlets and museum exhibits. He travels extensively to discover facets of queer culture/history and expose them to a new generation while paying homage to the past.
Leo’s current passion project is Fathers, a sci-fi documentary web series and multimedia project that imagines the world if AIDS never existed and a generation had lived. Weaving real-life events, survivor histories and fictionalized events, Fathers creates a surreal vision of an alternative universe. The first episode was funded by a successful crowdsourcing campaign and was featured extensively in the press, including a documentary by PBS (see here). Episode One of Fathers was completed June 2018 and can be viewed here.
Leo’s work in GLBT History includes films like viral hits The Fortune Teller: 50 Years of Gay History in 5 minutes, 3 Eras of Gay Sex and the History Is Resistance film campaign collaboration with the GLBT Historical Society and Museum in SF. The H=R Campaign brought queer history to a new demographic via viral films, tripling the number of the museum’s members and showcased contemporary queer talent of today and unseen historical footage. His piece, My Name is Harvey Milk, which showed images of the suit Harvey Milk was assassinated in, has become a viral and film festival hit.
A large portion Leo’s work focuses on HIV education and combating HIV stigma. Leo was an early poster boy of the PrEP movement, featured in the first national news story on PrEP for New York Magazine, as well as the GLAAD Media award-winning Vice documentary. Leo also lent his filmmaking to the founding of The Sero Project with activist Sean Strub, to combat HIV Criminalization and his short documentaries on the subject have been shown in global AIDS conferences. His film collaboration with Jordan Eagles on the Blood Mirror Project and BloodEquality.com brought attention to the FDA’s ban on blood from men who have sex with men, and the accompanying film were exhibited in American University Museum, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute among others.
Leo’s projection visuals and promotional videos have become a staple at the country’s largest nightlife events and benefits and seen by tens of thousands of revelers. Clients include Lady Fag Events, Pines Party, Black Party, Folsom Events, SF Pride, New Orleans Pride and Provincetown Tourism Board.
In 2016, Leo combined his passion for politics, fundraising and nightlife to be the campaign manager to successfully elect progressive gay candidate Tom Temprano for College Board, as well as an aide in progressive candidates campaigning for supervisor in San Francisco.
SELECTED PROJECTS & PRESS
What if AIDS never happened? Who would we be? A sci-fi documentary web series that imagines the world if a generation lived. Episode One is now playing at iftheylived.org
Blood Mirror Part 1 & 2 2015/2016
Blood Mirror documented Jordan Eagle’s sculpture created from the blood of men in protest of the FDA’s ban on gay blood donations. The film was part of Blood Equality’s national campaign and exhibited at American History Museum, Trinity Church, the Highline, The Hammer Museum.
A 3 minute tour of gay fetish throughout the 1950’s, 70’s, and 2010’s. Filmed in historical locations in NYC and San Francisco.
50 Years of Gay Culture in 5 Minutes, became a Pride month viral sensation through social media.
PrEP Advocacy 2014/15
As one of the first young voices advocating for PrEP use, Leo Herrera was featured in New York Magazine’s cover story “Forgetting HIV:Sex Without Fear” by Tim Murphy, as well as the GLAAD Media Award Winning “The Truvada Generation” directed by Eric Leven released by Vice News.
HIV Is Not A Crime 2012
Leo Herrera’s short documentaries on HIV Criminalization became a crucial tool in spreading awareness through Sean Strub’s The Sero Project. The films were released online and through presentations including the UNAIDS Conference.
Harvey Milk’s Suit 2013
Documenting the suit that Harvey Milk was assassinated in along with his recorded political will. Image and film used for the 20th Anniversary of International GLBT Historical Society in 2004. Images released in 2004, Film premiered in 2007 at Mix Film Festival in NYC, and re-released in 2013 for Harvey’s Birthday and featured on Logo’s NewNowNext blog.
Acting as campaign manager, Leo Herrera ran the city-wide campaign to elect GLBT Activist Tom Temprano to College Board of Trustees in San Francisco, which was successful in rallying the cities nightlife and queer political community and broke fundraising records through fundraising events and private donors, raising over $50K.