WVPB’s documentary Rosemary profiles the campaign of the first openly transgender person to be elected to public office in West Virginia.
With the pandemic as the backdrop, the film follows Rosemary Ketchum's campaign and election to Wheeling's City Council in June 2020.
Rosemary Premieres Monday, October 26, 2020 at 9 PM on WVPB TV And Online at WVPublic.org
Wednesday, October 28, 08:00 pm on The West Virginia Channel and
Thursday, October 29, 10:30 pm on WVPB TV.
Ketchum, elected June 9 to Wheeling City Council, defines herself simply as a determined community activist and human rights advocate.
“Realizing that I could be defined solely by my gender identity was uncomfortable when this campaign started,” said Ketchum.
“For years I’ve been working throughout the state of West Virginia, advocating for issues like racial justice, criminal justice, poverty, mental health and LGBTQ equality, all issues that matter greatly to me as well as the people of Wheeling.”
The half-hour film opens as Ketchum, age 26, is visiting with residents of a local homeless encampment. Viewers observe right away her compassion and humanity, no doubt nurtured through her own life’s experiences.
“I remember when we had our house fire in 2010. We were homeless as a family for months and months,” she shared. “It was jarring and embarrassing. I was 16 and I don’t think I told anybody what was going on in our lives at that point.”
West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s cameras follow Ketchum pre-COVID 19, on a series of community projects and events, capturing her energy and optimism for making things better in her adopted city.
“I remember distinctly being 16 and coming into the city for the first time, crossing the bridge and seeing a sign that read ‘Wheeling, the Friendly City,’” said Ketchum. “And I took it to heart immediately.”
“I love Wheeling. I’ve grown and developed my identity here; it’s home and I feel supported.”
In early 2020, Ketchum felt compelled to run for Wheeling City Council, wanting a seat at the table to help make the policy decisions that would build a stronger sense of community.
“We live in a time when people don’t feel part of their community, they feel their voices don’t matter,” Ketchum said before filing. “I’ve lived a life fraught with trauma and tragedy and experiences that have taught me that with support, anything is possible.”
“With a community that has your back, anything can be done.”
Rosemary is a film produced by Corey Knollinger and Chuck Kleine. Both are residents of Wheeling and found Ketchum’s long-demonstrated drive to better the lives of the city’s most vulnerable to be inspiring.
“If every community had ’10 Rosemarys,’ the world would be a much better place,” said Kleine, who with Knollinger captured Ketchum’s work as a community activist and her journey on the campaign trail, including the exuberance and elation of an election win, and the emotion of taking the oath of office. “She’s just one of those rare people who’s completely engaged in community. She’s been working hard for years and has an impressive knowledge of a wide spectrum of current human rights issues.”
“I think, as a young person in West Virginia, it’s super important to see another young person take ownership of her city, and really make a commitment to make it a better place,” said Knollinger, who started shooting the film one week after his college graduation.
“In a state where we hear a lot of stories about young people leaving to make a better life, it’s important to hear about someone who is staying to make life better for her entire community.”