I’m a Cis, White Girl and I Was Almost the Victim of A Hate Crime

 By Ruby Samuels

Two weeks ago, a bearded man with a long robe and a koran threatened me and my girlfriend with a switchblade. We were on a train coming home from an art house in Brooklyn and I had my arm around her. I guess my arm must have been pretty offensive because the man screamed, knife in hand, “I fucking hate lesbians and faggots! Hate them! One of these days, I’m gonna do something about it.”

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Athena Film Festival Movie Review: Out in the Night

By Mariah Castillo

Warning: this contains spoilers!

The New Jersey 4

The 2015 Athena Film Festival had an amazing line-up of movies. One that especially stood out to me was Out in the Night, a documentary by Blair Dorosh-Walther. Dorosh-Walther delves into the story of the New Jersey 4, a group of friends who, in 2006, were sent to prison after defending themselves from a violent catcaller. Typically, when people reasonably act in self-defense, they at most receive lighter sentences. These four young women were sentenced to up to 11 years in prison, serving longer than others who’ve intentionally committed even graver acts. Why were these women treated differently?

The answer: they are queer women of color.

Renata, Patreese, Venice, and Terrain grew up in a bad neighborhood in New Jersey. Their families were accepting when they came out, and they would often go to the West Village together to meet other members of the LGBTQ community. One night, they and three other friends were hanging out, when a man in front of a store started catcalling them. One of the women, Patreese, told him that they were gay, but after finding out that they were lesbians, the man made comments such as “I’d fuck you straight,” and started getting even more violent. It all escalated to the point that the man was stabbed. The group was arrested, and when they went to court, Renata, Terrain, Venice, and Patreese all pled not guilty.

The whole incident and the trial caused a firestorm in the media. Newspapers, magazines, and TV anchors identified them as a “gang,” “raging Lesbians,” and even “wolf pack.” A few of the media talked about the catcaller in passing, if at all. The judge in their case misled the jury, and the four women received, among others, charges that included “Gang Assault,” even though they weren’t part of a gang at all.

Seeing the trial and the media backlash, it was impossible to not get angry. Now the four women have to go to prison, and their families have to cope. Seeing how each person reacted was difficult to watch. There were a lot of tears shed (by the people in the documentary and by the audience- or just me). One could hear the gasps and outcries by the members of the audience when even more devastating revelations came to light. Dorosh-Walther was able to film starting from when the four women were appealing their cases to when Patreese was finally released from prison. The New Jersey 4 were seen trying to lead a normal life, trying to find employment and a place to live with a criminal record. Despite the obstacles, Renata, Terrain, Venice, and Patreese are all determined to succeed in their future endeavors.

The audience applauded loudly for the movie, and gave Renata, Terrain, and Patreese a standing ovation when they sat on stage with Dorosh-Walther for the Q & A. Aside from answering one painstakingly awkward question about why Dorosh-Walther, as a white person, felt hesitant to tell the story of queer women of color (which she answered flawlessly), the Q & A was handled very well. Renata, Terrain, and Patreese are some of the funniest people to have the floor at Barnard 304. They mixed humor with their deep answers, and they continued to inspire the audience when the whole event was over. They each took the time to talk to those who went up to them. I was literally star struck!

As one person commented, for a project that started in the mid-2000’s, the cinematography was of pretty high quality. Sometimes the transitions between words and clips were a bit abrupt, but it never detracted from the whole experience.

Out in the Night is one of those movies you think about long afterwards. The emotions it evoked helped highlight the injustice queer women of color are at risk of facing every day. For a movie that was featured at 9PM on a Saturday night, the full house and the energetic, engaged audience showed how much of an impact it has made.

Mariah Castillo is a Junior at Barnard College and the Editor-in-Chief of The Nine Ways of Knowing

Image courtesy of indiewire.com

For more information on the film, visit the official website.

QuAM Movie Rec: 5 Movies With Queer People of Color as Leads

by Katherine Aliano Ruiz

In recent years, representation for LGBTQA characters in mass media has certainly increased but is still sadly dismal. GLAAD’s annual report on LGBTQA representation shows that of the 102 films released by major studios in 2013, only 17 of them included LGBTQA characters. Moreover, the majority of the LGBTQA characters in the films were minor roles or offensive representations of the community. GLAAD counted a total of 25 LGBTQA characters spread out in those 17 films. What is interesting–and very important–to note is that of the 25 characters presented, 19 were white while only 3 were African American, 2 were Asian, and 1 was Latino. Additionally, more than half of the films favored representing gay men over lesbians, bisexual individuals and transgender individuals. There were no portrayals of asexual individuals at all.

Movies and TV have grown slightly comfortable with depicting queer characters over the years, but the focus has more often than not been on white, able-bodied, gay men. It is important to recognize that misogyny, racism and ableism affect people within the LGBTQ community and deeply impacts who gets to be represented in media. Major networks and film studios need to push for  more encompassing and inclusive representations of queer characters and depart from the notion that white gay men are the only members of the community.

In honor of Queer Awareness Month, here is a movie list of 5 films that are not only amazing and have queer characters as their protagonists, but also feature queer women of color, and one film that features a queer man of color with a disability. Here’s to a happy QuAM and a hope that positive representation improves with every year!

Pariah (2011) trailer
Pariah is a powerful and moving film about 17-year-old African American teenager Alike embracing her identity as a lesbian. The story addresses first crushes (and first kisses), gender expression, friendship, a father daughter bond and how Alike’s sexuality impacts her relationship with her mother.

Saving Face (2004) trailer
Saving Face is a heartwarming and hilarious romantic comedy drama film that tells the story of Wil, a Chinese-American surgeon, and her relationships with her proud and gorgeous dancer girlfriend and unwed pregnant mother. Mother and daughter both come to understand one another and accept each other’s secret loves despite their deterrence from traditional cultural expectations.

Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho (2014) trailer | original short film
Based on a 17 minute short film, this beautiful and adorable Brazilian love story is centered on a blind high school boy, Leo, and his two best friends, Giovanna and Gabriel. The movie addresses Leo’s need for independence from his overprotective mother and the feelings blossoming between Leo and Gabriel. While most queer movies exclusively feature able-bodied queer characters, Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho is one of the few queer films that has a lead with a disability.

Reaching for the Moon (2013) trailer
Reaching for the Moon is a dramatized telling of the love affair between American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares. Set in Brazil between the years 1951 and 1967, the movie explores the tumultuous and passionate relationship between the two women in the changing Brazilian cultural and political climate.

The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love (1995) trailer
This movie is the love story between two young women, Randy and Evie, who come from different social and economic backgrounds and go through all the motions of teen romance–from best friends, to lovers, to ex-lovers–while learning to accept who they are. For any L Word fans, this was one of Laurel Holloman’s (L Word’s Tina) first films.

Didn’t see your favorite queer movie on the list? Rec us your favorite ones in the comments!

Katherine Aliano Ruiz is a sophomore at Barnard and Managing Editor at The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Wikipedia

Information regarding statistics on representation courtesy of GLAAD.org

Event Review: GenderFuck

by Gaby Marraro

GendeRevolution is creating safe spaces on campus.

Last Friday, I attended an even sponsored by Columbia University’s club GendeRevolution called GenderFuck. It was a trans, queer, body-positive, underwear dance party hosted in Lerner. The dress code was completely-clothing optional, as long as everyone was wearing underwear, and anyone who is a part of the LQBTQ community, including allies, were welcome to attend. Its purpose was to promote a positive space free from any and all discrimination related to sexuality and body-type. There were students dressed in drag, bras, underwear, and everything in between.

When I first learned about the event, I wasn’t sure what to expect or if I would be comfortable enough to reveal so much of myself to such a large group of strangers. But I was comforted by the positive and even more welcoming description, so I decided to ask a couple of friends to go along with me. Upon entering, every participant was asked to read and sign a list of ground rules about respecting all gender identities and expressions, not taking pictures, and the importance of comfort and consent. After that, I headed to the free clothes check and took off everything I was comfortable with.

Once I got to the dance floor, I totally forgot I was wearing only a bra and underwear in a sea of people, because everyone seemed so happy and free, inspiring me to feel the same. The whole night was a really empowering experience. Not once did I feel self-conscious or that people were judging me or looking at me negatively. I was surrounded by people who just wanted to feel comfortable in their own skin, and the space allowed that to happen.

While I certainly understand being unsure about attending GenderFuck when it comes around again next year, it was an experience I wouldn’t replace. I felt free, confident, and beautiful, and once I was able to get past the initial hesitation, it was an amazing time. Look out for announcements about the event next fall, and be sure to go!

Gaby Marraro is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of Pinterest.