Last year, Amandla Stenberg announced she was heading to film school in New York.
I want to be a director… I want to make films that feature people who don’t get to be leads all the time.”
And now it seems we don’t have to wait too long for her directorial debut, as her short film Blue Girls Burn Fast has just landed.
Starring Leeza Lester and Julia Rocha in the leading roles, it’s a coming-of-age story about love, friendship and growing pains.
As we expect from Amandla, it also features social commentary on race, acceptance and identity, and has a totally delicious ethereal quality that has you daydreaming about lost summers and past lovers (which, you know, is never a bad thing.
The film was written, produced, shot, directed and edited by Amandla, and – she explains on Instagram – doubles as her NYU film school application.
Anyway, enough chat from us. Take a look for yourselves, below…
The ability to travel safely and free of prejudice is something that most heterosexual couples take for granted.
As LGBT couples we face something very different. Wherever we visit or stay, there is a possibility that we could be discriminated against us.
That’s not something that even a service like Airbnb can necessarily end, but with its new short documentary, “Love Is Welcome Here,” as part of the company’s #HostWithPride campaign, they make clear that they’re aware of the issue.
The documentary, created in partnership with Molecule, features several queer and same-sex couples – a cisgender woman and a transgender man, and young and old same-sex couples with different kinds of families – as they talk, first, about their love stories.
It’s always charming to hear people recount the joy they felt when they first held their child, or the exciting adventures they’ve had together, but the film quickly takes a sharp turn toward the dark side of sharing experiences as a queer couple: Namely, that some of those experiences can be scary in ways that have nothing to do with you, and everything to do with how the people around you see you.
As one woman in the film says,
Planning a honeymoon as a queer couple, we have to be really careful about where we go.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by all of the other couples in the spot – “Some countries are less friendly than others,” “Your ultimate fear is your safety,” “If people knew that I was trans and we were queer, would these people talk to us?”
While Airbnb’s anti-discrimination policy seeks to address such concerns, the company seems to recognize within the ad that no corporate policy can eradicate bigotry, and instead keeps its eye focused on a better day. It ends with the words
We look forward to a world where all love is welcome.”
And that’s something that everyone should be able to get behind.
For many people, the terms ‘gender’ is interchangeably. Both Miley Cyrus and Ruby Rose have spoken publicly how they about identifying as gender fluid. But what exactly is it and is it on the rise? If you’re not familiar with the term, gender fluidity refers to somebody viewing themselves as both male and female.
Some gender fluid people will alter their clothing depending on whether they feel more masculine or feminine while for others it’s a state of mind that they don’t outwardly express.
While you might have put Miley’s transition from girlie Hannah Montana to her current androgynous style down to fashion preference, but the child star has announced she doesn’t want to be boxed into one gender identity.
I didn’t want to be a boy … I kind of wanted to be nothing. I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.”
Meanwhile, Ruby Rose, soon to be star of Orange Is The New Black, shared a rare insight into being gender fluid in her short film Break Free, where she transitioned from an ultra feminine version of herself with long blonde hair to a masculine version in a suit.
The only reason it was a surprise was because gender fluidity doesn’t get talked about enough. Once the film went viral, the floodgate opened; to me, that said that this was something much bigger than I thought it was.”
Gender is all around us. It is actually taught to us from the moment we are born. Gender expectations and messages bombard us constantly. Upbringing, culture, peers, schools, community, media, and religion are some of the many influences that shape our understanding of this core aspect of self. How you learned and interacted with gender as a young child directly influences how you view the world today.
However, the diversity of gender is a normal part of the human experience, across cultures and throughout history.
Non-binary gender diversity exists all over the world, documented by countless historians and anthropologists. Examples of individuals living comfortably outside of typical male/female expectations and/or identities are found in every region of the globe.
The calabai, and calalai of Indonesia, two-spirit Native Americans, and the hijra of India all represent more complex understandings of gender than allowed for by a simplistic binary model.
Further, what might be considered gender-expansive in one period of history may become gender normative in another.
One need only examine trends related to men wearing earrings or women sporting tattoos to quickly see the malleability of social expectations about gender. Even the seemingly intractable “pink is for girls, blue is for boys” notions are relatively new. While there is some debate about the reasons why they reversed, what is well documented is that not until the mid-twentieth century were notions of pink for girls or blue for boys so firmly ensconced.
So, you can make the case that “pink is the new blue!”
Perhaps the most fundamental aspect of a person’s identity, gender deeply influences every part of their life.
In a society where this crucial aspect of self has been so narrowly defined and rigidly enforced, individuals who exists outside its norms face innumerable challenges.
Even those who vary only slightly from the norm can become targets of disapproval. Yet this does not have to be the case forever. Through a thoughtful consideration of the uniqueness and validity of every person’s experiences of self, we can develop greater acceptance for all.
Not only will this create greater inclusion for individuals who challenge the norms of gender, it will actually create space for all individuals to more fully explore and celebrate who they are.
A budding UK actress has received a prestigious award for her campaigning video against homophobia.
Laura Finnigan, 17, from Bootle, Merseyside, made her short film Changes late last year to make people aware that sexuality is not a choice.
It quickly went viral and has now received more than 35,000 views on YouTube.
The film shows her changing her clothes, hair and life choices before concluding that she can’t change her sexuality.
She made the film with Fixers, a charity that works to allow young people to get their message across in any medium they choose.
I wanted to do homophobia because it’s an issue I feel really strongly about. People seem to think that it’s a choice and I just wanted to state a fact that it’s not. You can’t just turn gay. It’s very frustrating. I want people to know as much as possible and to show them that there is no choice.”
She said she was stunned by the reaction to her video.
I think it’s amazing- I didn’t expect it. People all over the world were commenting on the video and saying that it made a really good point.”
Laura now plans to take it into Merseyside schools to educate local teenagers about homophobia.
The Diana Award was set up in memory of Princess Diana and rewards young people who have made a significant impact on society.
Tessy Ojo, chief executive of the Diana Award said:
We are incredibly proud to honour Laura for her qualities of selflessness, altruism and compassion. In the long term we aim not only to award these socially active young people for their achievements, but also to engage, motivate, and empower them to do even more through our training and network programmes.”
Watch this 16-minute funny ‘fly-on-the-wall-mockumentary’ short, about a writers obsession with comic Leisa Rea.
Created by out London-based writer Deborah Espect, the mockumentary is about ‘fan-girling’, which goes to a another level.
Whats is fan-girling you maybe be asking?! Well according to the urban dictionary fan-girling is ‘a gathering of two or more fangirls in which they proceed to waste endless amounts of time ogling, discussing/arguing, stalking, etc. the object of their “affection” ‘
The short focuses on a writer Deborah (played by Jenny Harrold) who writes a film for Leisa Rea simply to so she could meet Leisa.
‘Fly-on-the-wall-mockumentary’. After a minor exchange on a social media site, a writer becomes obsessed with a comedienne, and decides to cast her in her new film in order to meet her… to the detriment of everyone else involved in the production.
As a masculine-of-centre woman (and a lesbian at that) things are likely far from a walk in the park. Society already has harsh expectations embedded in it that suggest that it’s only ok for men to be masculine and for women to be feminine – any blurring of the lines is simply unacceptable.
So when a woman not only abandons a feminine dress sense, her perceived female identity and is open and proud about her sexuality too, there are always going to be calls against her from the groups of ignorant people.
Bring on DJ Ruby Rose then, who identifies as gay and is known for her more masculine fashion sense and her roster of impressive tattoos as much as she is for her music. In her new music video for ‘Break Free’ she challenged these perceptions by depicting her transformation from feminine to masculine over the course of the song.
The video didn’t just catch flack from ignorant people though, as it actually caused offense to those who it was meant to honour. According to Rose, the video is “about gender roles, Trans, and what it is like to have an identity that deviates from the status quo”.
However, in the video she seemed to depict a gender fluid character who let go of their femininity to become more masculine – something Rose depicted by using a binder and a fake penis. Some have called Rose out on the fact that she did not publicly identify as trans* nor gender fluid (at the time the video was posted).
Therefore she had no right to depict such an identity, which is perhaps valid given how many actual trans-men, women and those who are gender fluid already have trans* and gender fluid characters’ roles in the media given to cis-gendered people. However, after posting the video online, Ruby Rose did come out as gender fluid saying that she identifies as neither a man nor a woman.
Meanwhile, one YouTube commenter says that “I don’t like this [sic] videos idea of a male image.” failing to realise that these attributes are often accepted and even celebrated when displayed on cis-gendered men. Another plainly said “You’re going too far, it’s confusing.”
But what does Rose say to these haters? In a statement to Cosmopolitan Australia she said this,
“You know what needs to stop just as much as homophobia, bullying within the LGBT Community… A ‘bisexual’ isn’t just greedy… ‘Pansexual’ exists and isnt a cop out.. ‘Straight’ people can be huge gay advocates and blessings to the community…
You can identify as trans without surgery, you can be gender fluid… In fact guess what… you can be whoever you are and like whoever you like and WE should spread the love and acceptance we constantly say we don’t receive.”
Watch Ruby Rose use the power of the visual to communicate her views on sexuality and gender.
Taking to Facebook this week, the 28-year-old shared her debut short film ‘Break Free’ – transforming her feminine look into that of a man (bandaging her chest and wearing a sex toy).
The video starts, with Ruby wearing long blonde hair, and the picture of femininity as she stares into the mirror. The model then sets her eyes on a pair of scissors, the music kicks in as she grabs for them and starts tapping her forehead with the blades, before another shot of the star again staring into the mirror ended the short clip.
After some consideration she starts chopping at her hair and the transformation begins – transforming her do into a pixie crop look similar to the hairstyle she currently sports. She then scrubs her smooth skin to reveal the array of bold statement tattoos that she sports on her arms and neck. Taking her transformation to the next level, she bandages her chest and straps on a dildo before swapping her fitted frock for a smart suit. Hot!
Engaged to fashion designer Phoebe Dahl, Ruby revealed earlier this year in April that she had longed to undergo a female to male transition when she was younger. Referring to her current androgynous style, she said seeing recent pictures of herself reminded her of feelings she had about her gender many years ago…
‘It’s weird, some of the androgynous photos I have taken lately really make me wonder what i’d have looked like if I did a FTM (Female to male) transition like I wanted to when I was younger,’
But Ruby then said she is now at peace with her appearance and went on to explain that in her Facebook post.
‘Happy how I am.. I am a woman, but I would have been just as comfortable as a boy. I know a lot of people don’t understand that, but I know a few of you do’
BTS of ‘Break Free’. A short film about gender fluidity.
In the summer of 2012 Shalem Mathew and Mitch Kitter started the Love is Love project. During the first stage of the project they photographed 28 Vibrant LGBT families from all over Alaska. Thru out the project filmmaker April Frame recorded video, interviewed couples, and compiled a video that is sure to leave you misty eyed.
The Devotion Project ‘Foremost in my Mind’ was the winner at the Long Island Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and is now up for official selection at Amsterdam Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
The Devotion Project is a six-part series of short documentary portraits featuring LGBT couples and families. Each short film celebrates both commitment and love. Tony Osso, the filmmaker/creator of The Devotion Project spent three-year developing this project, and its fantasic to see they are gain success on film festivals circuit.
A new video from Atlantic Philanthropies shows that despite written law; tolerance and acceptance do not come easily to those living in Africa; and in particular South Africa.
It is common for many LGBT Africans to seek asylum and refuge in South Africa, where the constitution (put into effect in 1996 by the late President Nelson Mandela) promises equal rights to all.
However many refuges soon discovered (like many others in the country), that LGBT asylum seekers experience heightened harassment and violence.
This film was made in conjunction with the PASSOP organisation (People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty) who are a dedicate group that work to provide support for gay refugees in Africa. This organisation works tirelessly to empower LGBT South Africans and advocate for their own rights.
With such barbaric practices against LGBT community continuing in other African countries, PASSOP has seen more LGBT asylum seekers coming to South Africa, with numbers arriving in Cape Town increasing from 20 each day to over 200.
For more background information on Atlantic’s work with LGBT rights, you can look at their case study examining the challenges queer South African youth face.
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Kitsch Mix, is a rapidly growing social platform developed to promote the diverse creative ventures of women in the LGBT community. It aims to chronicle and celebrate the stories, people and voices that are emerging and inspiring all of us, ranging in topics from pop culture and style to politics and news, all through the lens of today’s LGBTQ community.
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