Lives Worth Living- Shorts Program (2012-2014)
Cast: Various actors and actresses
Director: Various directors
Genre: Biography, Documentary, Fiction, and LGBTQ
The films within “Lives Worth Living” were compelling and thought provoking. They all seemed to display the common correlation between mental health illnesses, and gender and sexuality conflict. One of the films was about a woman who had anxiety and was gay and couldn’t talk to her crush without shying away or acting strange. She hid behind her anxiety in fear of being rejected. Finally, she decided that she would be honest with herself and her crush so that she could overcome her anxiety and live her life how she wanted to without feeling burdened. Immediately I thought about young adults in contemporary Western culture feeling nervous and uneasy asking out their crushes, then I imagined how someone in the LGBTQ community and/or someone with a mental illness would feel doing the same. Not only is there a fear of being rejected but also a fear of being judged and shamed for their sexual orientation as well as perhaps not being physically able to as a result of their mental health. Everything piled on top of one another can make these individuals feel helpless as they wrestle with the weight of the world on their shoulders. This film positively portrayed the outcome of conquering fear, and mental health illnesses, and I hope it inspires others struggling with the same issues.
Another film that stuck out to me was about the main character, a man who was deaf, who enjoyed swimming in the pool alongside another man. He spent most of his days alone and isolated from others. At the end of the scene, the other man who he swam with used sign language to talk to him, and they kissed, and swam together. This film really touched me because the whole time I was watching it I felt sad that he was alone and was searching for someone to be with, when really he had someone all along. It warmed my heart that the other man put effort into learning sign language for the man who is deaf because it showed how much he cared. This was really a great example of overcoming society’s belief of heteronormativity.
Overall, these films were truly inspiring and genuine. They expressed real-life situations, not just Hollywood-esque movie scenes that don’t accurately depict the lives of queer individuals and what they deal with. They can truly be helpful for and give guidance to those tackling similar obstacles. The films seemed to be expertly made and kept me intrigued throughout.
The film that I’m focusing on was about a man who desired to be a woman, and so he dressed in drag and performed on stages. When in drag he was known as Phatima Rude. The scene that stood out to me the most was when he was alone in his van talking directly to the camera about personal events that took place in his life, and he struggled to speak without crying. Throughout the film you witness this confident, bold individual but when he cries about the hardships in his life you get to see a different side of him that is not seen until that moment. He shares intimate details about defeating his drug addiction and the moment he almost removed his own genitals because he wanted to be a female so badly. It made me think about all the people that go through the same challenges, and who have the ability to emerge stronger than ever to take on their lives. He expresses his gender identity through makeup, the way he dresses, and they way he behaves. It goes to show that gender is entirely socially constructed (Aulette and Wittner), and that gender-expansiveness is quite plausible, especially now in contemporary society. Female and male are not the only gender possibilities in 21st century culture, and these are known as sexual binaries. There is an array of gender choices that many people identify with and Phatima is a quintessential example of these variations.
When I walked into The Screening Room, naturally I looked around the room to see who else was there viewing the films. I found it interesting that there were quite a few older adults there because it seems as though older people, more than others, are opposed to the idea of being homosexual, queer, transgender, etc. This is likely because they grew up in a different era where it wasn’t very common to be any of these. Many of them grew up learning that traditional and conventional practices were what to live by. Personally, I think individuals in today’s society are becoming more accepting of others who do not express “normal” gender or sexuality because it is something they grow up understanding. Usually it is something that is seen as natural. I like knowing that there is hope for the future in terms of accepting other people’s gender and sexuality choices, even though there is still a long way to go.
Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds: Third Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.