Hey! So we’re putting together our first feature length film over Spring Break. And we need all the help in the world to get it off the ground. If you have even just $5 to spare, it would really help us out. Please check out our IndieGoGo here!
Okay! So this is the updated video for “Her Tragedy,” the first feature length film I will have ever worked on. I’m running as the cinematographer (and if you watch the full thing, you will see a rare glimpse of me on camera).
Anyway, we need your help to get this funded so that we poor South Carolinians can afford the drive up to Minnesota. It’s a wonderful cast and crew and I PROMISE that your money will not be wasted. :)
“Sage Smith, a trans* woman from Charlottesville, Virginia, has been missing for over 20 days; the 19-year-old’s disappearance has been largely ignored by the press and her case has been fumbled by the police.”
So I don’t normally signal boost things, but I know the LBGT community at UVA and I know they are all worried sick about Sage. So this is a real thing, and if anyone has any details, they should very much contact the police, or notify their local television station.
ONLY 3 DAYS LEFT TO DONATE TO THE KICKSTARTER!
Queerness as both a symbol and a practice confronts the heteronormative subject with its own rigid incompleteness and blind fragmentation, its own ignorance of Totality. In this way, queerness is innately mystical.
How does one fight a force that does not recognize its own evil? Or even worse, embraces it?
Promoting a film trilogy about queer mystics who must battle the forces of patriarchal oppression: http://kck.st/OACrYv
Emily, you’re not signing a contract.
You were Emily dating Ben and now
you’re Emily dating Maya. We love Emily.
No one cares who you’re with.
— Hanna Marin, “Pretty Little Liars” episode 1.07
When I first heard that Emily is going to hook-up with Maya’s male cousin on this season of “Pretty Little Liars,” it felt like getting kicked in the gut. Not because I couldn’t stomach the thought of Emily with a dude, but because I couldn’t stomach the thought of living through another fistfight in which AfterEllen readers beat the shit out of each other and me and Marlene King and poor Shay Mitchell (who has only ever stood before the young women who watch her show with an open heart and open hands in an act of purposeful generosity unlike anything I have ever seen from an actor her age). Nothing makes lesbians want to burn down their own house like: a) a gay lady TV character getting killed, or b) a gay lady TV character developing feelings for a man. And with the death of Maya St. Germain and the genesis of Nathan St. Germain, “Pretty Little Liars” was planning to hit up both of those tropes in an unapologetic back-to-back KAPOW!
I understand the frustration. I really, really do. Those storylines tap into decades-old screenwriter-inflicted wounds and annoying cultural stereotypes, like how lesbians just haven’t found the right man yet. But the problem I always get myself into is that my empathy doesn’t manifest itself as action. I fully get why some people are outraged, but I’m not outraged. And because my voice is a little bit louder than the average lesbian fan’s, my lack of indignation and my unwillingness to take up the banner of grievance, makes a lot of AfterEllen readers want to burn me to the ground too.
See, the thing is: This kind of story is fascinating to me because I’ve lived it.
I couldn’t agree more with this. I’ve identified as a lesbian for nearly five years now, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t questioned it, the same way I questioned myself when I identified as straight. A long, long time ago, in a small town far, far away. There lived a boy and a girl, who spent all of their time reading Harry Potter and watching Star Wars. We spent every weekend at each other’s houses. He knew all my deepest secrets, and I’ll knew all of his worst fears. He was my best friend for nearly six years.
He was there when I fell in love with the girl next door. He was the only person who knew I was dating another guy to keep my parents’ suspicions at bay. He was there when my first girlfriend wouldn’t stop blowing up my phone after we broke up. He was there the night of my Spring Fling, right before my school was going to close and my dad was going to lose his job. We laughed at everyone grinding. We stole cookies and punch and ditched the party early to go back to my house, where we watched episode after episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
That was the night I kissed him. He wasn’t my first kiss, but he was the first boy I ever kissed. And when he kissed me back, I felt a pang in my chest that I hadn’t felt before. And wouldn’t feel again until another year later at my new school, where I fell in love with a girl who reciprocated my feelings for the first time.
I’ve never really talked about this because I know that people will tell me that I just need to keep waiting for the right guy. And while I know I’ve been in love with a boy before, there’s an indescribable satisfaction I get from being with a girl. I loved my male best friend with my whole heart, and I felt an attraction to him that has only been rivaled by my most intense relationships. But in the back of my mind, I knew there would always be something missing between us. Now he’s with the girl of his dreams, and I couldn’t be happier for him. I hope they tie the knot one day and that I get to take their pictures, at what I’m sure will be a Star Wars themed wedding.
So you’re probably wondering if this means that I’m open to the idea of dating another guy? That’s complicated. On top of my best friend scenario, I also had a crush on a trans male during college, which made me all sorts of confused. I saw him as male, and I liked the fact that he was male. I’m not gonna lie, he’s pretty hot. And while some of my friends tried to disregard his gender identity and say I was still lesbian, I couldn’t help but disagree with this. Not only is disregarding his gender identity a weak excuse to keep my “lez cred” but also insanely disrespectful to him and all other trans people out there. Your gender is your gender, and I’m not going to manipulate it so I can keep my label perfectly polished.
So do I still identify as lesbian despite the fact that I’ve been interested in two guys? Yes, I do. Being lesbian for me has never been about being solely attracted to women, but specifying a preference. I like women. I’m really attracted to them. I enjoy dating them. And I fall really hard for them. But some would say that those two experiences (accompanied with my fangirl crush on Nightwing) means that I can’t possibly be 100% lesbian and I must be bisexual. And who knows, maybe they’re right?
But for me, a label is something an individual chooses. If I wanted to identify as bisexual, I would. But I’m comfortable with being a lesbian. It feels right to me, right now. Who knows if it’ll stay? I’ve identified as a number of things since I was a kid, and I’ve never stopped questioning. But the point is, who you date does not determine your label. Only you determine your own label, if you even choose to have one.
So to all those lesbians out there who try to be super smug about their “perfect record,” that just sounds like a little bit of insecurity to me. Maybe you’re questioning your sexuality and want to hide behind a label? I know I’ve done that more than a few times.
Alright, so I got a few requests from some of you guys to go into the backstory of getting this video done.
Back in October, Drew Newton, USC’s amazing Graduate Assistant for LGBT Programs and Services (yes, this is a real office at the University of South Carolina), approached me with a proposal to do an offical “It Gets Better” video for the university.
Now, for those of you who might not know, I actually have a few qualms with IGB and its use of victimization and hetero-normalization, but I told Drew if we could find a creative way to not rely on those standards and tropes, then I would love to make this video a reality. I’ve grown up in South Carolina my entire life, and it hasn’t always been the most welcoming place for us LBGTQers. (I mean, really, my hometown still had an active KKK store until recently.)
Anyway, a few months went by, and to be honest, I had completely forgotten about it. And then one day in March, I get a message from Drew saying that he had finally gotten through all the paper work to release an official video and we’d be rolling in a few weeks.
Not gonna lie, the first time I saw the number of people we were interviewing, it was a little overwhelming. But over the next three weeks, our four man crew (myself included) went armed with two cameras, two tripods, a boom mic and my own pair of headphones to capture all 14 of these wonderful stories from allies and members of the LBGTQ community.
I think the funniest time had to be when I literally ran from giving a presentation in Japanese literature to the Horseshoe to interview President Pastides. I was 3 minutes late and we only had 12 left with him. But he just chuckled at my red face and exasperated introductions, and he somehow managed to understand the directions I gave him with my flailing hands, still not having fully caught my breath. Afterwards he told me he loved my garnet and black striped tie. It was the best 10 minute interview ever.
I really wanted to make this video different from other IGB videos. I wanted to show how my university, despite being heavily entrenched in the Deep South, was extending its wonderful Southern hospitality to everyone - including the LGBTQ community.
So when it finally came down to edit, I was heartbroken at all the clips I couldn’t fit in. But I reconciled myself. And since I wanted it to be more than just generalized fluff, my co-editor Ashely and I scoured for stories. Whenever someone gave an anecdote I tried to use it. I played with the pacing and coloring since I wanted to showcase the Southernness of our university instead of shying away from it. You don’t have to go up North to find nice, LBGTQ-friendly people. We’re down here, too. And after four sleepless nights, I got the piece down into the 5-7 minute parameters I had to work with and burned to a DVD.
You know, I’ve made a lot of films. A lot of them about minority groups and a few have even been about the LBGTQ community. But those were always my stories. This was the first time that I got to weave together a collective story with all these awesome people, who all go or work at what has turned out to be one of the most inviting and accepting universities I could have imagined.
I’ve come a long way from being a scared, in-the-closet 8th grader to the happy, out and very-soon-to-be rising senior that I am today. And USC has been a big part of that. Its given me amazing friends, the courage and comfort to come out to my mum, and even resources to reconcile my faith with my sexuality. In fact, USC just gave me a big grant to make my own anti-bullying social media campaign with local kids in the Columbia community.
But most of all it’s given me the ability to be myself and, you know, to hold my girlfriend’s hand down the sidewalk (if she let’s me :P).
So believe me when I say it, here at the University of South Carolina, it is better - NOW!