Everyday Should Be a Good Day to “Come Out…” (Part 1)

I wanted to dedicate a couple of blogs to honor my many friends and family who are proud members of the GLBTQQI community. Last January, I was invited to attend the movie Pariah with a group of friends, most of whom were Lesbian. What follows is NOT a movie review, but my initial reaction to the movie. To my readers who have not seen the movie, I implore you to go rent, purchase, or pull it up on Netflix (http://www.focusfeatures.com/pariah). Those of you who have seen it, I invite you to comment as to how you experienced the movie.

My next  post will be a far more personal glimpse into my life as an Ally.


“I am not running. I am choosing:” My reaction to the movie, Pariah.

It isn’t often that watching a movie will inspire me to want to write. It’s even more rare that watching a movie forces me to feel so full of emotion that I have to write. Pariah was that kind of movie viewing experience for me. So here I am, at 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning: Writing. Reacting. Feeling.

I am like a lidded pot of grits on a hot stove-so full of emotion that my entire body slowly bubbles and my soul is on the verge of boiling over. I am compelled to get this out quick, so it will not contain literary perfection. Somehow, I feel that is fitting. Perhaps later, I’ll compose a review-style response to the movie. For now, I just need to write.

Initially, I thought I would enjoy the movie because it told the coming-of age story of a young, Black lesbian girl. I supported this because I know the transformational power of stories and I understand how crucial it is to have every voice represented. I’ve never heard this story voiced on the big screen and I wanted to offer my support, financial and otherwise.

To my surprise, I found that my laughter, tears, anger, confusion, and triumph had less to do with the idea that Alike, the main character, was a lesbian, and more to do with the fact she was a pariah who made the brave choice to create her own space in a world that refused her. In so many ways, I was Alike. As far-removed as it seems I should be from that 17-year-old self, I still remember her: lost; confused; lonely; simply wanting and needing to belong-though not quite sure to what or whom. In the end, Alike chose. In her words, “I am not running, I am choosing.” In the end, I chose. In the end, we all have the power to choose.

People underestimate the power of watching. As I watched Alike being rejected by her mother, (the most hurtful and profound rejection anyone could ever receive), I cried. But these tears were not only for Alike. I cried for my many friends who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer. So many of them have experienced (or are still experiencing) rejection, simply because they are not running, but choosing.

I cried for my 17-year-old self who made the courageous choice to choose education over fear.

I cried for my 19-year-old son who, though outwardly confident , is also struggling to make that same choice.

I cried for my 15-year-old-son because as a teen with autism, he often feels like the walking definition of a pariah.

I watched Pariah and experienced the power of something much greater than the sum of its parts. Yes, Pariah was a movie about a Black, lesbian girl. Yet it was so much more than that. Pariah induced a raw vulnerability in me that could only be felt from watching: eavesdropping and bearing witness to another human come into being. I cried because I watched. And through these tears came a cleansing that I didn’t even realize I needed.

Thank you, Dee Rees, for being a watcher and for passing along your power to see what others choose to ignore.