Who was Willmer “Little Axe” Broadnax? For three decades he was a popular gospel singer, one whose powerful tenor voice belied his diminutive frame. But he also carried a secret his entire life: Broadnax was a transgender man, something only he and his older brother, Willie (a.k.a. “Big Axe”), knew until the former’s death in 1992.
The Broadnax brothers’ little-known story is explored in Little Axe, one of five short films profiling transgender pioneers as part of the digital docu-series We’ve Been Around.
The series, which debuts today across EW, PEOPLE, Essence, and the Advocate, was created by Rhys Ernst (a co-producer on Transparent) and Focus Features, which released The Danish Girl (out now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD) last fall. (The film, about the lives of transgender pioneer Lili Elbe and her wife Gerda Wegener, won star Alicia Vikander an Oscar for playing Wegener on Sunday.)
Watch Little Axe above.