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Marking its 35th year, Oakland University’s Women and Gender Studies Film Festival will present Challenging Femmephobia: Breaking the Gender Binary in Queer Communities. This year’s festival features screenings of the films “Making Masculine” and “The Same Difference.” The screenings, and a panel discussion, will take place from 12 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, in room 1050 of the Human Health Building on OU’s Rochester campus.
Released in 2018, “Making Masculine” is a documentary about the constructs of masculinity and pressure that society places on individuals to fit into a heteronormative culture. Director Nicholas Swatz turns the camera on himself to share his personal experiences with femmephobia within gay culture, and how he had to find a sense of peace with his feminine characteristics.
The film also highlights Justin Gerhard, a Canadian actor who has made an online-personality out of his sexuality in the form of The Queer Network (formerly known as The Gay Men Channel) on Youtube, and how he challenges the masculine ‘norm’ that has followed him since childhood.
Additionally, Dakota Conduct, a Chicago-based drag queen who embraced drag culture in response to the Trump presidency, shares personal triumphs after coming out and being rejected by family. Farah Ali, a clinical psychologist explains the psychological effects that the coming out process has on LGBT youth, and where low self-worth comes into play in the story.
All of these stories come together to express the sense of pride that all LGBTQ people must possess in order to be unapologetically themselves, every day.
“The Same Difference”
“The Same Difference” is a 2015 documentary about lesbians who discriminate against other lesbians based on gender roles. Director Nneka Onuorah takes an in-depth look at the internalized hetero-normative gender roles that have become all too familiar within the African-American lesbian and bisexual community.
Onuorah shows how these behaviors reproduce the homophobic oppression and masculine privilege of the straight world, while looking for solutions in compelling discussions with community members. Self-identified studs—and the women who love them — discuss hypocrisy in terms of gender roles, performative expectations and the silent disciplining that occurs between community members.
This film features many queer celebrities, including actress Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from the critically acclaimed HBO drama “The Wire,” and Lea DeLaria from Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” living daily with opinions about how identity should be portrayed. Onuorah’s engaging documentary shines a light on the relationships and experiences within the queer black female community, intersecting race, gender and sexuality.
Following the screenings, distinguished panelists will lead a group discussion.
About the panelists
Nicholas Swatz, director, is a filmmaker born and raised in southeast Michigan, and now living and working in Chicago. Nicholas graduated from Oakland University in 2016 with a B.A. in Cinema Studies, after which he officially launched Baby Pomegranate Productions, an independent production company rooted in creative fury that focuses on “telling stories that matter.” “Making Masculine” is his first feature-length documentary.
Amber Stankoff, editor, is an associate producer for The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, where she creates video content surrounding programming, exhibitions, and acquisitions of the historic destination. She collaborated with director Nicholas Swatz on his debut documentary, Making Masculine, in the role of post-production supervisor. Stankoff is a 2016 graduate of Oakland University.
Kole Wyckhuys, is a counselor and advocate at LGBT Detroit, Community Educator at Wayne State University, and independent educator in violence prevention. Kole has more than 15 years of experience in education, 10 years in prevention education models, and seven years in violence prevention and advocacy. His career mission is to be a part of dismantling a dominant social structure that allows for the prevalence of partner abuse, sexual assault and other hate-related violence.
This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided. For more information, contact the Women and Gender Studies program at 248-370-2154.