by: Camille DeBose
If I asked you to, would you tell me a story?
I am a filmmaker and a teacher and a mother and a wife and a whole bunch of other things. I won’t bore you with a list because it’s long, but the most important thing about the list is its length. I can’t be described with a short list. “Mother” does not accurately represent me, nor does “wife” or “teacher;” these are facets of a complex self, and I revel in that complexity. I recognize it, and in that recognition, I am free of some of the weight those terms place on me, because such roles weigh heavy. They are loaded and active and dynamic and oppressive, even when they don’t mean to be.
That’s who, or better yet, how I am. I’m complicated. Listing the roles I perform may not get you closer to knowing me, but if I told you a story or share an experience with you, that may give you some insight; that’s what I’m looking for.
I’m working on a film, one that seeks to render members of the LGBTQI communities visible in a way that goes beyond discussions of opacity. Let’s be honest: Some members are already visible, while others are not. It’s a discussion of how visibility relates to policy formation and what that means for people whose voices are missing or silenced. It’s a film that discusses these communities not as a monolith, but as distinct, multifaceted, stratified, and sometimes in conflict.
I need help to make this project a “whole” project. Not one driven by my intellectual engagement with human rights and policy formation but one driven by your stories: the happy and the sad, the sorrows but also the triumphs. We need all of these things in order to be four-dimensional human beings. We are not merely the measure of our pain, our anguish or the reality of our marginalization. We are so much more. Our brilliance resides in the interplay between the peace and gentle moments of our existence and life’s brutality. We are wholly visible when joy and pain are acknowledged.
Struggling, happy, brutalized, defiant, extraordinary, simple but, above all, human. We are not the same. Patriarchy, heteronormativity and hegemony don’t treat us the same, but we share a common denominator: it is our humanity.
So, please: tell me a story. It can be a long story or a short story. It can be triumphant and glorious or dark and tough to read. It can be a small revelation: perhaps you have a garden you tend which grows the world’s best radishes? I don’t know. Some people like radishes. It can be the first time you realized a doctor refused you because you didn’t fit his idea of someone who deserved care. It doesn’t matter; it’s you that matters.
Not all stories will make it into the film, but all of your stories will impact how I approach the film. Your stories will guide me and be my compass. If a quote from your story is used, only your first name will be displayed unless you request your full name be included. I could go on to explain how important your stories are, but you already know.
If interested, please email Camille firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss contributing to her documentary.
Camille DeBose is a Lecturer in the departments of Sociology and Digital Cinema with a special focus on Race, Gender, and Media at DePaul University. She is interested in the intersections of Race and Media as well as Gender and Media and how media functions as pedagogy. Her academic work takes the form of traditional and popular writings as well as documentary and narrative films.