Tailored trilogy of movies portrays LGBTQ+ community in ways rare in the mainstream
THE SANTA CLARA
April 28, 2016
The vast majority of American films have been made about straight people. Through its second annual Queer Film Festival, the Rainbow Resource Center hopes to help the Santa Clara community explore and discuss intersectionality and LGBTQ+ portrayal in the media.
“Not only can films regarding LGBTQ+ issues be entertaining, but they’re also a great way to learn about different new issues or issues from new perspectives,” said RRC student assistant and junior, Ryan Quakenbush. “Sexuality, gender, race and class are all aspects of one’s identity, and shouldn’t have to be studied differently.”
For this year’s festival, Quakenbush and the rest of the RRC chose three movies that fit in the theme of Untold Stories. On April 12, the event opened with Ellen Brodsky’s “The Year We Thought About Love,” a 2015 romantic documentary about a Boston-based theater troupe of LGBTQ+ teenagers, primarily minorities, using their personal experiences to put together a play. Adrian Chavez, a student worker in the Rainbow Resource Center and leader of Santa Clara Queer, said they chose to screen this film because of how LGBTQ+ youth can identify with the struggles portrayed in the play.
“The purpose of the play is to normalize these teenagers’ experiences and love by helping people understand them,” Chavez said. “They really show a lot of various ways in which gender identity, sexual orientation and overall intersectionality comes into play with one’s experiences.”
The festival continued Tuesday night in Sobrato Residence Hall with “Boy Meets Girl,” a romantic comedy starring trans actress and model Michelle Hendley. Hendley’s character, Ricky, is an early-twenties trans woman working at a coffee shop in a small town in Kentucky, dreaming of love and going to design school in New York. She meets Francesca, a “rich, Republican debutante girl,” and the two pursue one another with the support of Ricky’s childhood best friend, Robby, and their town.
With both tender and humorous moments throughout—like Ricky’s little brother asking if it’s normal for him to play with toys his friends don’t like, and Robby uncomfortably explaining to Ricky how sex with women works—“Boy Meets Girl” is the kind of movie needed in the mainstream. It is upfront, intentional and enormously heartfelt, displaying the complications of gender and love in a genuine, hopeful and refreshingly non-heteronormative way—filling the long-standing dearth of fun, romantic comedies featuring trans women.
“I think it’s important to see the everyday issues a trans person can face regarding their gender and sexuality,” Quakenbush said. “It can be hard to ask questions about life as a trans person, and this is so fun–and secretly educational.”
This upcoming Tuesday, the festival will draw to a close with “Documented,” the story of gay Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and his journey to America from the Philippines. Once he arrives, he participates as an immigration reform activist and seeks to reconnect with his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in over 20 years.
“(LGBTQ+ media representation) is often fairly stereotypical and doesn’t really delve into deeper issues or understanding of LGBTQ+ people,” Chavez said. “This is why we think it’s important to have the Queer Film Festival in order to have a dialogue about real experiences we can have or are having.”
Contact Riley O’Connell at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.