SAGE presents documentary that lends a voice to queer women


Haljit BasuljevicReporter

In The Same Difference, lesbians not only have to worry about feeling outcasted because of the heteronormative standards they break, but they also face scorn from fellow members within their own community.

The film centers on the conflicts black lesbian women will have with one another based on a set of “rules” of normalcy they are expected to follow. We are introduced to Jordan who, due to her partners infertility, overwhelmed by the idea of adopting, decides to get pregnant herself. Problem is that there has been hate circulating around about her dressing in baggy jeans and retro jerseys.

[Because of her masculinity,] she is forced to confront an online hater who is appalled that she would do something that is considered feminine.

The film features similar interviews like this with celebrity figures like Felicia “Snoop” Ferguson, AZMarie Livingston, and comedian Lea DeLaria. The terminology of who is considered a “butch”, “stud” and “femme” give the lesbian community a clear designation of how the rules are enforced. As the documentary makes clear, a femme is supposed to date a stud, and stud a femme. Any deviation is an invitation to be exiled and ridiculed.

“We have to use these boxes and use these labels to describe ourselves to other people,” said Executive Director of the New Haven Pride Center Patrick Dunn, “but the problem is that we create these prisons for ourselves. Like if you don’t fit perfectly into this box, then the community doesn’t know what to do with you.”

Dunn said that he felt that the film does an excellent job of lending a voice to queer women. He said that there is a lack of productive dialogue for queer women who feel that their stories need to be heard and exchanged.

“Queer women aren’t necessarily included in women’s studies and…there’s a whole section of queer women that feel isolated and alone and don’t feel like they have spaces that are safe for them to gather and come together,” said Dunn.

“We’re still women. It’s just clothes. Lesbians still want kids, so what do you do?” said artist Versatile Poetiq, who spoke along with rapper Anne Gogh about the oppressive factors that come from conformity.

They said that to simply be yourself has the consequence of being atomised and judged for that one particular characteristic. Even the thought of being a bisexual, the documentary depicted, can spark stigma from peers who feel it as an act of betrayal.

“You have to be aware of that who you are can offend someone. And some people might hurt you,” said Poetiq.

“We’re kind of hitting a large swathe of different identities and issues within the LGBT community,” said SAGE Coordinator Jenna Retort, “looking at the history, looking at a bunch of different aspects of the community.”

Retort said that part of SAGE’s goal is to enlighten students about LGBT+ community as well as establish a sense of solidarity here on campus.

Retort also said that it is enriching to see those who attend the film screenings or events to share the experiences or be reminded of the fact that someone they know is currently dealing with this type of marginalization. She said this helps spark a dialogue that delves deeper into how the LGBT+ community are perceived.

She added that it has always been a significant challenge in getting the information out because of Southern’s many events. To help aid this, she said she has been using social media more as well as other ways of advertising.

After the film, the audience gave a resounding applause. Many viewers agreed with the speakers that exposing more content like this can help dispel the ignorance heterosexual people have in their judgement of queer individuals. They felt that they had not needed to fulfill societal expectations in order to feel comfortable and that they had did that on their own.

Dunn explained that he and the SAGE Center originally intended to premiere “Paris is Burning,” but due to schedule delays, the film has been pushed back.

The following Wednesday SAGE is to present the documentary Kiki as a part of Southern’s 64 Days of Non-Violence.

Photo Credit: Haljit Basueljevic

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