Do feminine-presenting lesbians experience invisibility within the queer community?
This question is the subject of a new documentary from advocate and and filmmaker Jodi Savitz called "Girl on Girl." The film aims to explore the emotional consequences surrounding the invisibility of feminine lesbians within the spectrum of cultural consciousness. "Girl on Girl" is currently engaged in an Indiegogo campaign in order to fund the project.
The Huffington Post chatted with Savitz about what viewers can expect from this groundbreaking film.
The Huffington Post: What are you trying to communicate through this film? Why is this so important?
Jodi Savitz: I developed "Girl on Girl: An Original Documentary" to call attention not only to the fact that feminine lesbians are legitimate but to the fact that we make up a thriving subset of the LGBTQ community. The film's emphasis on community solidarity will help build a network for women and girls who are just coming out and who aren't naturally inclined to alter their appearance to fit masculine stereotypes of "what a lesbian looks like."
Never before has feminine lesbian invisibility been discussed on such a large scale, and never has it been so important to make the conversation happen. Without popular, positive representation, feminine lesbians will continue to feel delegitimized and isolated and will continue to not be taken seriously by skeptics.
To many, real feminine lesbians do not exist beyond fiction and porn. The bigger picture: the LGBTQ community cannot afford to lose the faces of these women in the midst of a civil rights movement.
How does feminine lesbian invisibility create a climate of having to continually come out for many queer women?
There exists a commonly held belief that “feminine women cannot be lesbians because they look straight.” "Girl on Girl" introduces the concept of feminine lesbian invisibility -- the phenomenon that, due to their feminine appearance, countless LGBTQ women "pass" as straight and are rendered invisible to the outside world and to each other.
Due to the fact that "passing" as heterosexual is lauded as a privilege, both within and outside of the queer community, feminine lesbians are less likely to seek out support from other lesbians for feeling delegitimized or stigmatized for fear of being called out on their "privileged" status.
The idea of feminine lesbian privilege tends to leave women feeling lost for words, or without the "right" to feel hurt by their invisibility or marginalized status. Many feminine lesbians have trouble reaching out to each other to talk about the stress caused by invisibility for fear of hurting other "more subversive gender presentations" in their (for instance, butch lesbians) plight for visibility.
Gender subversion is often highlighted as "more marginalized" due to the more overt abuses exercised on those who present as gender non-normative -- i.e. bullying, hate crimes, etc. While many feminine lesbians appear to have little to no abuses exercised against them by society, in reality, the abuses against them are happening incessantly, albeit in a different, less visible manner.
Ultimately, women who present as feminine often stifle feelings of frustration and hide the emotional distress that arises from having to come out or defend their sexuality repeatedly, rather than verbalizing it with other lesbians for fear of their feelings being mocked or brushed off.
What do you hope viewers take away from this film about the realities of life for queer women?
I hope that viewers are able to see that all LGBTQ people, regardless of gender presentation, experience highly emotional moments due to their sexual minority status, and that passing as straight does not automatically translate to having an "easier" experience of navigating the world as a queer person. The film is meant to highlight the experiences of one specific subgroup of the LGBTQ population in order to illustrate that universal empathy is the key to affecting change and progress.
Head here to check out the "Girl on Girl" Indiegogo campaign.