AUSXIP is supporting a new documentary currently being filmed called FEELING SEEN. It’s a feature length documentary
about the impact of lesbian, bisexual, and trans/masculine representation in mainstream television.
Message from the Director
When I was a teenager, I didn’t know I could have the life I have now. I felt different and escaped in television, but my shame and fear deepened because everything I saw told me it was not ok to be a lesbian. One show became my beacon of light. Every week my family watched XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS together and it was if we were watching two different shows. Xena and Gabrielle spoke to me through the small screen in a way that no one else could at the time. It was as if they were telling me: We know the world isn’t ready, but we see you. We have your back.
Lack of visibility is isolating. When society tells you that there is only one acceptable way to be and you are excluded because of your sexuality, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, class, or ability, the result can be devastating. While this story is told through the lens of my experience as a lesbian, it is my hope that anyone who has felt marginalized can relate to this film. Now is the time for television to reflect the true social and cultural makeup of our society, which can only be told accurately when everyone has a voice.
ABOUT THE FILM
The notion that women who love women will end up alone, miserable, or dead are tropes that have been reinforced in plays, literature, film, and television for hundreds of years. It is no wonder, then, that many lesbian and bisexual women experience shame and self-hatred–society promises a brutally unhappy life. Yet every once in a while, culture offers an alternative perspective, telling an audience yearning for validation that they are seen; they are valued; their stories matter.
In the 1990s when being out cost people their family and career more often than it didn’t, many queer women watched TV from the closet in community thanks to the Internet. Websites, fan fiction, and chat rooms led to meet-ups at conventions and other social gatherings. Through these shows, many queer women found, and continue to find, their chosen-family.
WHY IS THE FILM IMPORTANT NOW?
This is a story of movement from isolation to community. As our society is increasingly polarized, the need for representative TV is dire. Images tell us what is socially acceptable. Since we fear (or, at least, misunderstand) what we don’t know, lack of visibility reinforces the idea that there is a norm and anything outside that norm is fundamentally wrong. Thus, people walk through life thinking, “YOU are wrong,” or, even worse, “I am wrong.”
XENA made me feel seen. For others it was BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, BLACK LIGHTENING, THE FOSTERS, GLEE, GREY’S ANATOMY, THE L WORD, LOST GIRL, ONE DAY AT A TIME, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, PERSON OF INTEREST, SUPERGIRL, QUEEN SUGAR, TRANSPARENT, WENTWORTH, THE WIRE, or WYNONNA EARP. While this is an improvement, there is still a long way to go. Queer people of color and non-binary/gender fluid people in particular look in the mirror of TV and do not see themselves reflected back.