The two films I made ‘QITPOC: The Elegy’ and A Somewhat (Self)-portrait of a Sex Symbol’ have been based on my experience living as a young QTIPOC in a patriarchal white society. I made these films as a mode of therapy and a way to connect to other people who have had similar experiences. For me, it is important, when making these animations and writing the spoken words, that I prioritise the experience of queer black (non-binary) people, because I do believe it is an experience we don’t often see recorded. The two projects are very similar in terms of techniques utilised and visual style, they also explore similar themes of sexuality, gender alienation, mental health and identity. However, because these films were made almost exactly a year apart the main difference between them is where I was at in my life during the production -in a sense these films are both self-portraits but they are of very different people.
‘A Somewhat (Self)-portrait of a Sex Symbol’ was inspired by my struggle with substance abuse and the realisation that my generation (myself included) had a strong dependency on drugs, addiction to sex and an unhealthy, anti-social relationship with social media and pornography. At the time in my life the issues mentioned above were prominent in my life, friends’ lives and people around me. As I really began to realise the extent to which these problems began to affect my depression anxiety and loneliness, I decided to make a film about it for my first major project in my final year of uni. The spoken word piece was a presentation of these themes directly related to poor mental health and a reflection of myself through the thoughts of friends and sexual partners – I asked them to describe me in three words. Using their words and reflecting on my social environment and encounters at the time, I created an exaggerated sex symbol persona in the poem, where this character was an amalgamation of thoughts and feelings I had about my identity and the state of the themes mentioned above. The aim was to create a portrait of my generation’s biggest problems. Shortly after I made this film, I decided to quit drugs and excessive drinking.
‘QITPOC: The Elegy’ was conceived as pride month approached, I started to reflect on the idea of Pride as a celebration. What mainly drove me to make the film and lead the spoken word was the number of killings of black trans women in America during Pride month. It was astonishing and very upsetting to realise that the killings of these women increased over pride month. I was disturbed but I also realised how much the whitewashed celebrations of pride excluded the information regarding work and activism of Marsha Johnson. Having lived in Brighton for 3 years for university, pride month to me, felt like big crowds, excessive rainbow decorations, overpriced train tickets and drunk white people. It never felt like a place I was represented in or could feel comfortable taking part in. Living and partying in Brighton taught me it was only acceptable to be LGBTQ if you are white. I decided to use this alienating experience to present my point of being a black queer person in wider society. Attending my first ever black pride celebration in London this year, at 24 years old, I only just acknowledged how problematic my previous experiences had been. I had never been as proud and comfortable as I was on that day in that park.
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