Black lesbians are underrepresented in film, Joseph says, which led her to make a movie that represented herself and others she knew on the big screen.
The movie discusses denial, coming out, suicidal thoughts and even violence. And Joseph said many black lesbian activists told her these were things that should not be discussed publicly, and especially not discussed publicly around straight people or white people.
‘See Us in the Life’ Film Festival
“The black community and the black lesbian community believes we’re not supposed to talk about it, but I tell it all,” Joseph says.
“Several people, black lesbian activists, have told me this movie is important and they don’t want to be shown in a negative light and they don’t want people to think this is how we are,” she says. “They have thrown a Superman cape on my movie. It’s a movie, it’s entertainment; it’s not supposed to represent the entire black lesbian community.”
‘Love is love’
The main character, Sincere, is a Christian woman who believes gay people are going to hell, lesbians are an abomination and she would never herself fall in love with a woman. Until, of course, she does, and the internal struggle to determine her identity takes her on a dark journey before she can come to peace.
“She has notions about herself and the lesbian community and they are going to hell, she doesn’t know how they have sex, it’s an abomination. These are her inner thoughts. She goes from thinking that to falling head over heels to do whatever it takes to keep this woman,” Joseph explains.
“This movie is not autobiographical, but seeds of me are planted throughout,” Joseph says. “I just thought it was a good story. And I want to see more stories with black lesbian themes.”
The film’s name, “Genderblind,” is a label Joseph uses to identify herself — someone who is not gay, straight or bisexual — but is attracted to the spirit of the person regardless of the body they are in.
Her movie, Joseph stresses, is about love — whether you are gay, straight, questioning.
“Love is love and you don’t have to label yourself,” she says.
Joseph acknowledges she considers herself a part of the black lesbian community in Atlanta and in Chicago. Making this movie was a way to show people who she and her friends are in human terms rather than a different group to be feared or shunned.
The few negative responses she received didn’t dissuade her from pursuing this project.
“As more black lesbian filmmakers come out, the pressure will be off,” she says. “There are different stories. Since there is so little representation, they are afraid what others will think. Now people are talking. I want people to not think the black lesbian culture is weird, underground. I don’t want to be invisible.”
Top photo: LaNita Joseph, who wrote, produced and directed ‘Genderblind,’ is excited about screening the film in her hometown as part of Black Gay Pride. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)