Calling all queer film buffs

I wrote to the people running Out Takes to ask a question:

Dear Out Takes,

though I know this is a “Reel Queer Festival”, I’m not sure who is welcome at the “Lesbian Gala Event.” Is this an event for lesbians, for women loving women, for queer people of all genders? To be honest, as a bisexual woman, going to something called a “Lesbian Event” feels disrespectful and invisibilising. In the past, I’ve just chosen not to go to that night.

This year I’d like to ask whether I’m intended to be welcome. If not, that’s fine, and I’d ask that you run nights specifically for other queer groups in future years – “BiNight”, say.

If so, then can you please change the name to reflect who is actually welcome?

Thank you

They wrote back, very graciously:

 Hi, thanks for your message. The name ‘Lesbian Gala’ primarily reflects the theme of the Gala night film, as well as the fact that the Gala concept was founded by the Armstrong and Arthur Trust for Lesbians. It is not meant to reflect who is welcome – each year queer-identified women and people of other genders attend the Gala, as well as some straight allies, and we hope to provide a welcoming environment for all.

We are constantly looking for ways to include broader content, and adapt our festival to suit our audience. So we need to hear about films being made that people want to see, and we need the input of people like you who have ideas! We’re only a small voluntary committee, and we’d love to get new members on board. If you’d like to help us make changes, please consider joining the committee!

This isn’t something I have the time to take up, so I said I would pass on the invitation.  If there are other queer people who would like to be part of the “Reel Queer Film Fest,” get in touch with Out Takes – and let’s set up events which are named to make sure we all know we’re welcome, and show films which reflect the diversity of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities.

There’s a line-up of great films to check out if you’re in Auckland or Wellington over the next week or so.


2 thoughts on “Calling all queer film buffs

  1. Lesbians wanting to hold on to their identity and herstory can hardly been seen as discriminating against others or you personally. You were told why the function was named as it was yet you choose to take offence when clearly none was intended. To me you are the one discriminating against lesbians for holding on to our identity and past. Just my opinion.

    • Hi Amanda,
      I’m afraid there is a long history of lesbians discriminating against others in this kind of context, and while I understand and am deeply sympathetic to the need for respect for all queer identities, I am also going to continue to check what is meant when an event is described as “Lesbian”. Bisexual women, in this context, cannot win. If we assume we are welcome as the content is about our same-sex attractions, for some lesbians this will not be appropriate as they will be wanting a lesbian only space. Which, as I said in my post, is completely fine with me, I love bisexual women’s space at times. If we check if we are welcome, which is what I did, we can be, as you’ve just done, described as discriminating against lesbians and “taking offence”.
      I love and support lesbians holding on their identity and herstory – but I do not support the invisibilisation of bisexual women in our women-loving-women communities – and I will continue to challenge this when I see it. I’ll give you one example – I have been invited on numerous occasions to be part of “Lesbian” cultural groups – radio shows, anthologies, sports teams, etc etc despite those doing the inviting being aware I identify as bisexual. On many occasions, other bisexual women have already been involved. Every time, I have asked for the group to change it’s name to reflect who is participating, and I’ve joined when that has occurred and declined when it has not. This is not about not respecting lesbians, it’s about expecting respect to be mutual.

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