A Film Festival Revisits an Audience’s Outcry
LGBTQ studies covers sexuality, race, identity, and gender issues and how that shapes a community today. This can be found in all forms of media such as television, movies, theater, and music. Some themes discussed in LGBTQ studies such as the topic of defining gender norms, and homophobia in relation to cultural traditions and upbringing can also be found in the New York Times article, “A Film Festival Revisits an Audience’s Outcry.” This article written in 2011 follows several film festivals and the protests that came along with them as they showed documentaries about transgender people or movies that show intimacy between same-sex couples.
The article is specifically discussing documentaries that heavily question mainstream gender norms and sexual orientation. Similar to Adrienne Rich’s discussion of compulsory heterosexuality in the article, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” the sponsors of a film said they would withdraw financing if it were shown in the festival due to the idea of a world in which people and couples were automatically gay, lesbian, or transgender. The sponsors would agree with the idea of compulsory heterosexuality, or the thought that people are automatically straight because of society. However, it was the transgender community that prompted the making of the film to begin with. This example, along with two others in the article, draws questions as to why these thoughts are still occurring in the modern day. These topics are so taboo to society, that they can’t even be expressed in independent films. The filmmakers view this as their opportunity to stop hiding their views and make their thoughts known among the public. Their films can cause the audience to question their thoughts about social norms in terms of sexuality and gender roles.
The article also discusses homophobia due to cultural beliefs, specifically in the Arab Film Festival, which showed films that discussed gay and lesbian issues, and the harshness of gender relations that brought objections from officials at Arab consulates. According to the article, some complaints arise because the films are revealing the truth behind a culture’s perspective on the matter of LGBT issues. The filmmakers argue that it is their issue as well, and they want to spread and make their message known rather than to continue to hide it or pretend like it does not exist. The homophobia found by financers of these films is according to Barbara Smith’s article, “one way to protect one’s heterosexual credentials and privilege by putting down lesbians and gay men at every turn, and to make as large a gulf as possible between “we” and “they” (Smith, 78). Their beliefs in regard to homosexuality are restricting the freedom of speech shown in these films. According to Smith, education is key to help change these attitudes and behaviors. One way to educate is through these films, which are repressed by the social beliefs they are fighting against. They should be allowed to educate the public and to try to instill change in their communities if that is what they believe is right.
While reading this article, I am reminded of the struggle the LBGT community goes through to express themselves. The goal of these films is to spark thought, provoke change, and to inform the public because common practices such as homophobia and unspoken topics such as gender norms are still visible in the modern day.
Curiel, Jonathan. “A Film Festival Revisits an Audience’s Outcry” The New York Times 14 July 2011. Web, 25 Jan 2012
Rich, Adrienne. "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" from Professions of Desire: Lesbian and Gay Studies in Literature. ed. George Haggerty and Bonnie Zimmermann. New York: Modern Language Association, 1995.
Smith, Barbara. “Homophobia: Why Bring It Up?” The Interracial Books. Children Bulletin, 78. Print.