When We See Our Lives on Film (Epochalips)

elena undone

Elena Undone

Jan Miller Corran, Ph.D., CEO/President of More Than Friends Productions (MTF) pens a great essay, When We See Our Lives on Film over at Epochalips – Smart Lesbian Commentary. From Epochalips,

A few weeks ago I was Facebook messaging with Shauna MacDonald who co-wrote and stars in the award-winning film Tru Love. I was telling her how I resonated so strongly with the story because it was my story twenty years ago. Shauna conveyed that she had heard from dozens of women who felt exactly the same way. She was astounded by this and I too was astounded by(spoiler alert) the idea that many women fell in love with their best friend’s mom. I doubt this is a lesbian film pattern that will transcend falling in love with your straight neighbor. But, it does speak to the notion of finding our personal stories in film.

In a highly scientific study– sort of- I asked twenty unrelated lesbians to name the film that they felt was their personal story. Each one could name a few of them and often said, “The writer nailed it.” Surprisingly, one film kept being referred to by nearly all of these women. Topping the list was Elena Undone. This surprised me since only half of these women were in relationships with women who had led a straight life until coming out. None of them had children from previous relationships. None had a new baby. Their ages ranged from 25-55. So, what was the hook in that movie that seemed to be universally the story of such a diverse group of women?

It was one line in the movie. Yes, it was one line that all felt summed up their story. It was the one line that made them feel that the writer knew them. It was that pivotal moment when Elena simply says, “Peyton, make love to me.” One survey respondent stated, “When I heard that I felt that excitement and tentativeness I felt when on a second date with my partner she whispered in my ear, “Let me love you.” Another respondent told me that she remembered the way she felt when she fell in love and wanted to make love but was too afraid to just ask. And another wrote that she saw love and not just sex in the film. This was what her life was now.

The article reminds me that all LGBT films do not need to speak to all LGBT people. That’s an impossibility. Something the detractors of Looking should heed. Instead we should welcome, encourage and financially support more and more stories about all of our unique lives. The richness of our community. Especially as we gain strides in military and marriage, yet are continually vilified by politicians who still think we can be used as fuel for hate and keep us second-class citizens in many other areas of our lives. Our stories continue to not only be wanted, they are necessary. We need to see LGBT films that focus on women and their multiple issues of gender and sexuality inequality. Stories on LGBT people of color and their issues of gender, racism and sexuality, LGBT people from other cultures, spiritual expressions, gender and sexual fluid people and yes even a few more stories about white gay men. We have to support each other and each individual voice to tell all kinds of stories LGBT people will relate to and become empowered by in their personal lives, perhaps allowing them to become more authentic and comfortable in their own skin.

Read the full article by Jan Miller Corran, Ph.D.

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