Posts Tagged LGBTQ
Directed by Alvaro Delgado Aparicio, Retablo is a film jointly produced with participation of Peru, Germany and Norway. Retablo won Best Peruvian Film Award at Festival deCine de Lima & at Berlin International Film Festival, in 2018, it won Teddy Award as the best LGBTQ-themed debut film.
It centers around a 14 year old Perfuvian boy, Segundo Paucar (Junior Bejar) who is being trained by his father, Noe (Amiel Cayo), to become an artisan and continue with the family legacy of making beautiful retablos. These brightly painted wooden cabinets were sometimes commissioned by large families and they featured the family members and sometimes they were commissioned by churches. Father and son duo also made small generic retablos to sell in the tourist markets. Sedundo shares a very special bond with his father and father is immensely proud of the skills and enthusiasm that his young son displayed.
However, Segundo’s beautiful little world fell apart when he saw his father engage in a homosexual act. Guilt and shame began to eat him inside. But that was only the start of their problems. Some time later, Noe was caught in the act, by the villagers. This was a small close knit, traditional community of people who took simple pleasures in community celebrations. The same community where people depended on each other in their hour of need, was also totally intolerant of a different way of life. Noe was not only insulted and spurned by the villagers but also was badly beaten. His wife Anatolia, (Magaly Solier) left him.
The flow of the film is so natural that it is hard to imagine at which point it becomes intense. Junio Bejar displays a range of emotions from pride about his family to disgust and shame to disillusionment to deep inner strength when he decides to not accompany his grieving mother who leaves her husband, but instead stays with his father who is beaten and left as an outcast.
The film shows the challenges that LGBTQ people often have to navigate in diverse societies. And it shows that the cost of exclusion is borne not only by the individual but his family as well. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate it a 4.2. Retablo is available on Netflix.
A young couple, Celestial and Roy are living the American Dream. Roy is a young executive and his new bride Celestial is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. Roy observes, “all my life I have been helped by leg up programs – Head Start when I was five and Upward Bound all the way through. If I ever have kids, they will be able to pedal through life without training wheels, but I like to give credit where it is due”. You read these lines in the very first chapter and you feel incredibly proud of what American has achieved. Acknowledging the incredible progress America has made, Roy observes, “if you’re going to be black and struggling, the United States is probably the best place to do it”.
Roy was determined to live out his American dream as up and coming, hungry young black professional, reaching for the stars, but never forgetting his roots. He says, “but with my mother and Celestial, I was actually split down the middle. Olive (his mother) brought me into this world and trained me up to be the man I recognized as myself. But Celestial was the portal to the rest of my life, the shiny door to the next level”. Although he came from the deep South, Roy felt that the American dream was in his grasp. Little did he know that the America that brought him Head Start and Upward Bound, still retained in the recesses of the deep unconscious, strong biases that can splinter young lives. It seems in America, being black means never forgetting your race. As Kamau Bell once said, “being black means the exact same thing in the current era as it meant throughout the history of this country, that at any point a white person can harass you for no good reason, and you kind of would have to take it”.
The unfounded optimism about how far the country has come in eliminating racial prejudices, sometimes takes young black people by surprise. Unguarded and trusting, they fall prey, first to people’s biases, false eyewitnesses and testimonies, and later to society’s complex legal system. Held for days and weeks without a trial, without the help of appropriate legal attorney to navigate the complicated legal labrinth, it impacts entire families for generations. Roy and Celestial’s young lives are soon shattered when Roy is accused, arrested and sentenced to a crime he did not commit. Roy slept behind bars one hundred nights before he was even brought to trial and was then sentenced for twelve years. But Roy and Celestial had faith. Celestial says, “maybe that’s what innocence is, having no way to predict the pain of the future”. Getting arrested and getting sentenced unjustly, was not even half of the pain they would go through as they navigate through life; one a free bird with all kinds of new opportunities for the taking, and other behind bars, suffocating as if life is slowly being snuffed out of him. What happens to the love that formed the center of their existence, now finding expression in soul baring letters? Celestial writes, “a marriage is more than your heart, it’s your life. And we are not sharing ours”. Celestial is outside in the real world where sharing a life looks very different than it does to Roy, who is inside.
Roy and Celestial’s journey touches our souls. Tayari Jones is a master storyteller. She lays bare before the readers, the simplicity of the young couple’s pain. And at the same time, her compassionate observations of the complex characters in the story, make their pain even more searing, even more real. First, there are hard questions about injustice and betrayal, a man’s responsibilities and demands of parents’ eternal love. Then there are heartbreaking complex softer issues like, who defines the propriety of our responsibilities and desires, and what does one do with wounds that may never heal. American Marriage may not provide the answers, but this book will hold your attention, make you marvel at the richness of the language and from time to time, will stir your soul at some deep level where truth is….. just truth and humanity is humanity, regardless of race, class or color.
I would like to make one final point about unjust imprisonment and in 2018, all the emphasis that is being put on “law and order” but comparatively much less so on compassion, understanding and humanity. To address problems thus will continue to keep our society splintered and lives shattered, including black lives, lives of those seeking asylum, lives of children who cannot speak for themselves, lives of LGBTQ community that are often marginalized. Problems cannot disappear because children are taken away and put in cages or refugee families put in military detention centers or young black men taken away and put behind bars or young couples are not allowed to cement their love because they are of the same gender. Problems cannot disappear because people are made to disappear, left dead, broken or marginalized. That patriarchal solution treats the symptoms, giving a false sense of security. I hope we start thinking about it more wholistically and offer systemic solutions that are also compassionate and humane. One can’t underscore the importance of effective leadership at national level, to bring this dialog at the forefront in a constructive way, with less divisive rhetoric and with appeal for broad engagement towards more compassionate systemic solutions along with heightened individual awareness.
I don’t want to single out our dedicated Dem leader who stirred up a controversy this week by asking people to “harass” the team working with the current administration. We are all filling her rage and sadness and any one of us might have said the same thing when witnessing little #ChildrenInCages . However, compared to us, far higher standards are expected of our leaders. It is completely ok for a leader to call us for civil disobedience and to show up and resist and march and speak up and protest. But let us not ask people to show up to single out administration team members on their private outings with their family members. Here are top 10 reasons why the strategy suggested by her is not the best one to adopt.
10: When they go low, we go high (this one is still a good one to follow but please note, from number 1 it has gone down all the way to number 10.
9: Civility discourse aside, Dems need to differentiate themselves in every conceivable manner from Trump, in order to make a solid case of defective #leadership (when the right time arrives). We must maintain the distinction.
8: Instead of keeping all energy focused on their scandals, this unnecessary moves the focus on #Dems. There are enough Trump scandals that we need to stay relentlessly focused on HIS scandals. Despite that our attention is slipping as he slips things under the radar. We must not make more opportunity available to him.
7: Democrat base is vastly different from Trump base. While Trump base thrives on his lies and potty mouth discourse, democrats do not appreciate it, leave alone thriving on it. Democrats are more likely to do fact checking, more open to contrary information, more willing to engage in dialog and more likely to call their leaders on uncivilized talk, unlike Trump base. So a Dem leader is unlikely to score high points for divisive stirring of the pot, like Trump does with his base.
6: Closely related to number eight, Dems don’t need controversy that divides them while so many critical races are going on, especially over non-substantive issues. We must not enable Trump to go higher in polls because we are getting divided over our leaders’ uncivil dialog, especially when all attention should be on Trump’s inhumane actions.
5: It is extremely tempting to give him a dose of his own medicine. But however tempting, we must not, because we will lose. ONLY TRUMP CAN DO TRUMP. Most other politicians just don’t have the capability for incessantly lying, name calling of opponents and riling up and dividing people. So why attempt something that is a forgone loser act for dems? (from article by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large).
4: There are far superior and memorable ways to point out Trump’s inhumane actions, and draconian policy of dividing young children from their parents at the border. Except for the recent snafu by Samantha Bee, the comedians (SNL, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, Sam Bee, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah) have all done an awesome job of calling out Trump and have done so with amazing class and wit.
3: Trump is doing the lying and engaging in divisive rhetoric strategically and effectively (as per the standards of his base) because he is being exactly who he is. Ironically, Trump’s words and actions are authentic and reflect who he is as a person. He enjoys power for power’s sake, he marvels at the power of the dictators, and he understands that he can stay in double digits in power and polls only by keeping the population divided. We are understandably stupendously angry at his clear and open unwillingness to follow due process. We are understandably and heart-soakingly saddened at his inhumane treatment of migrant families at the border. But what we say in anger is a one time thing. We are patently unable to stay angry always or to stay sad always, whereas Trump will never tire of being self focused ALWAYS. Again it circles around to Trump being Trump.
However, in the event that we do manage to authentically and consistently give him a dose of his own medicine and in the event that we effectively manage to stoop to his level, then we still have a problem. Quoting from article by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large, “Then there is the political argument: No one gets down in the mud with Trump and comes out clean. Or, in the words of George Bernard Shaw: “I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”
2: : Trump has lowered the civility discourse so dramatically and has polarized the country so much that merely to survive and protect their political careers, no GOP members are able to speak up against him. So now the #dems are not just the keepers of democracy, but also keepers of civility, truth, humanity, and integrity. Someone will have to hold that post with consistency, patience and persistence, no matter how tough the going gets.
1: Number ONE reason we may not want to stoop to Trump’s level is because we have to believe that though victory may be slow in coming, truth and integrity always wins. The last laugh will be enjoyed by integrity, unity and humanity. To be steadfast in that belief will require us to have tremendous courage to keep up resistance and even more patience to show up and yet resist the urge to get in the mud with him. As the cries of little sobbing children reverberate in our ears, we must know that we need to stand by them, not for a day, not for a week, but for a lifetime, for the harm that is being inflicted on their little impressionable minds. The same patience will be required of us to right the harm that Trump and his administration is doing to all the other groups among us, our kneeling athletes, LGBTQ, Muslims, Mexicans, Gold Star families, women who require full medical access and so on. This will have to be a long journey of patience and persistence and that is what we will also need from our #dems leaders.