Blog written by Taylor Cliff, Writing for Film, TV, and Emerging Media, minor in Legal Studies, ’23, FLEFF Blogging Staff, Rochester, NY.
Open on Tuesday evening, sat in front of my Macbook, awaiting to be let into the Zoom Call for F2F: Feminist to Feminist. The call began with a soundtrack of tuba songs, overlayed on flashing images advertising some of the details of the FLEFF festival over the next few weeks. Introductions follow shortly after.
Before the conversation really begins, a comment made by Dr. Claire Gleitman catches my ears, where exactly the name for F2F originated. While the most obvious of these is in the title itself, ‘Feminist to Feminist’, Dr. Gleitman says “We latched onto the name F2F because we liked its great array of meanings, such as faculty to faculty, feminist to feminist, field to field, festival to festival, friend to friend, and hopefully soon with the vaccines, face to face.”
The idea behind this multifaceted name intrigued me, to say the least. As while this conversation took place between two feminists, it also allowed the event to be more than topics on gender identity. Not only was this a time to learn from one another, but a time to gather as like-minded individuals in a space to safely share experience that another person may not understand.
During this conversation, Dr. Nicole Horsley is able to exemplify this. As a black femme, Horsley shares her experience in finding her own sense of identity. Early on, she shares how her experience of gaining her masters in Women and Gender Studies would eventually lead her to a PhD in African Diaspora, explaining that while her masters had allowed her to focus on women, it wasn’t until she joined the PhD program, she was able to find herself in a black department. Prior to this, she notes, she had few black professors, and they were the only ones who would teach about black women.
Dr. Horsley also takes time to discuss how this led her to black lesbian archives, and how it helped form her idea of identity. The importance of every type of story; whether it be stories of women such as Ruth Ellis who is remembered as the oldest living out black lesbian, or the story of Mitrice Richardson, a black lesbian with a tragic death at the age of 24. The idea of telling these stories is to maintain authentic experiences of black lesbian women, without the lens of white, euro-centric views that have historically silenced them.
As somebody who doesn’t identify as either black or as lesbian, it makes it important for people such as me to hear and learn these types of stories. They may make some people uncomfortable or want to look away, but we must challenge our comfort zones to learn, but also unlearn some of the ideas that have been instilled within us about what the black lesbian experience may be as told by non-black and non-lesbian people.
Hearing Dr. Horsley talk was a pleasure, and even as I found myself logging out of Zoom for the night, I wished for more time to hear her speak.