Freedom of Religion or Freedom to Discriminate?

It appears that when it comes to overcoming discrimination against gay people, we are taking steps backward instead of forward. This is at least the case in Michigan, where recently it came to light that a doctor from Roseville refused to treat a child simply because she had two mothers (myFOXDetroit.com Staff 2015). Parents Krista and Jami Contreras described Dr. Vesna Roi as “friendly” and “straight up” and that they were “really happy with her” (myFOXDetroit.com Staff 2015) – that is, at least until she failed to even come into the office when Krista and Jami’s daughter, Bay, had her very first appointment. Her reason for failing to treat Bay was her religion: She stated in a letter that “after much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationships that I normally do with my patients” (myFOXDetroit.com Staff 2015). Krista and Jami were horrified by the fact that their child, who had not yet even developed her own sexual orientation, was being discriminated against due to their own sexuality (myFOXDetroit.com Staff 2015). Ironically, Dr. Roi wrote to the couple in a letter saying that she “would never judge anyone based on what they do with… free choice”, although Dr. Roi’s replacement told the two mothers that Dr. Roi had not come to work that morning to avoid seeing them (myFOXDetroit.com Staff 2015).

Unfortunately, it seems that the couple will not be able to sue since there are no laws to protect those who identify as LGBTQ from discrimination. The American Medical Association states in their policy for “Continued Support of Human Rights and Freedom” that they “oppose any discrimination based on an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, national origin or age” (AMA Policies on LGBT Issues 2015), however, doctors are allowed to choose to not give treatment if it is “incompatible with their personal, religious or moral beliefs” (myFOXDetroit.com Staff 2015). In the autumn of 2014, the state of Michigan attempted to create laws to protect LGBTQ from such discrimination, however, the bills did not pass (Ford 2015), and instead, the state concentrated on a bill called the “Michigan religious freedom restoration act (RFRA)” that allowed more religious freedom (Ford 2014). The RFRA grants people the ability to refuse service to certain people if it goes against their religious views (Ford 2014), making it easier for people like Dr. Roi to make religion a scapegoat for homophobia, which is “the discrimination against and hatred of lesbians, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered (LGBT) people” (Aulette & Wittner 2015).

The reason that bills like the RFRA are even being considered is because there are many moral complications at the point where religious freedom and equal rights cross. Supporters of the bill argue that discrimination is not a one-way street, and that there must be protection for discrimination against religion along with protection for discrimination against LGBTQ people (Oosting 2014). Jase Bolger, the house speaker who proposed the RFRA, gave the example that “a baker should [not] be able to fire an employee for being gay or refuse to make a birthday cake for a gay customer” but the baker “should not be forced to make a cake for a same-sex wedding if such a union would run counter to his or her religious beliefs” (Oosting 2014). In opposition to the bill, Rabbi Jason Miller argues that the RFRA “allows individuals to put their religious beliefs above civil law and cause hardship for other individuals” (Miller 2014).

Having been raised in a religious household, I can almost understand Bolger’s side of the argument, or at least where he’s coming from. Religious freedom is important. However, it is ridiculous that a doctor could refuse treatment to someone who needs it simply because of his or her sexual orientation, or that a landlord could attempt to evict someone whose sexuality doesn’t align with his or her religion. These actions result in the strengthening of heterosexual privilege as well as heteronormativity, which is the idea that heterosexuals are “normal” and anyone who deviates from it is “unnatural” (Aulette & Wittner 2015). Imagine the outcry if a gay doctor refused to treat a child because his or her parents were straight. Of course, this is a different situation since there are no known religions that are against heterosexuality, but I am simply trying to point out how rejecting a gay person services is not out of the blue in our society, but it would be ridiculous if things were reversed. As Rabbi Miller writes, “freedom of religion shouldn’t be unconditional” (2014). I firmly believe that people should be allowed to practice whatever religion they choose, but whatever they believe should not have a negative effect on other individuals.

– curlyfrypoutine

WORKS CITED

AMA Policies on LGBT Issues. (2015). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/our-people/member-groups-sections/glbt-advisory-committee/ama-policy-regarding-sexual-orientation.page?

Aulette, J., & Wittner, J. (2015). Gendered Worlds (3rd ed.). New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

Doctor refuses treatment of same-sex couple’s baby. (2015, February 18). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/28142401/doctor-refuses-treatment-of-same-sex-couples-baby

Ford, Z. (2015, February 19). It Was Perfectly Legal For This Doctor To Refuse To Treat A Same-Sex Couple’s Newborn. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2015/02/19/3624769/michigan-doctor-discrimination-child-same-sex-couple/

Ford, Z. (2014, December 4). Michigan Advances ‘License To Discriminate’ While LGBT Protections Stagnate. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2014/12/04/3599833/michigan-rfra-discrimination/

Miller, J. (2014, December 11). Freedom of Religion Shouldn’t Be Unconditional. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://time.com/3629943/michigan-religious-freedom-restoration-act/x

Oosting, J. (2014, November 12). Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger seeks to pair gay rights bill with ‘religious freedom’ act. Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.mlive.com/lansing-news/index.ssf/2014/11/bolger_proposes_religious_free.html

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What it means to be a girl in “Girlhood”

Girlhood (Bande de Filles) is a French coming of age drama directed by Celine Sciamma, who has made a name for herself in international cinema for her different takes within the genre (Bramowitz). This particular film follows the life of Marieme, a sixteen-year-old girl living in a low-income suburb of Paris as she attempts to overcome her home situation and reach a life she is proud of (Sciamma, Girlhood). The film flows in episodes that explore the many climaxes in the protagonist’s life as she makes both good and bad decisions, causing many situations and plot elements to be left unexplained and without any true resolution or conclusion (Sciamma, Girlhood). The eldest daughter in a family of four children, Marieme is responsible for her younger sisters while her mother works as a hotel maid and is verbal and physically abused by her elder brother (Sciamma, Girlhood). She finds solace in an all girl gang led by the fierce and confrontational Lady and features her friends Adiatou and Fily (Sciamma, Girlhood).. The girls rebaptize her as Vic, for Victoire, and she begins to alter her dress code as well as her quiet mannerisms in favour of a more aggressive attitude (Sciamma, Girlhood). Together the girls take on the neighbourhood, getting into physical altercations, stealing money, and partying in hotel rooms (Sciamma, Girlhood). However as Vic’s home life deteriorates, she chooses to leave in the hopes of making a newer and better life for herself, and must also leave behind her friends (Sciamma, Girlhood).


The atmosphere at Reelout was very hard to identify. When entering the theatre, the town and gown feeling was very present as two distinct age groups were present as university students, and baby boomers in about their fifties or sixties. However there appeared to be no animosity between the groups, with people interacting and discussing their expectations of the film. The space itself felt very appropriate for a small, niche festival in a local independent theatre and everyone appeared very comfortable in the slightly overfilled auditorium. During the film, the atmosphere changed from one of excitement to confusion very quickly. Sighs of exasperation and noises of disbelief slipped more than once. I believe this was due to the structure of the film. Much of my viewing time was spent attempting to put the pieces of the episodes together, however there were too many missing elements or no clear link between them. In fact as I left the theatre, I heard many people continue in their attempt even as they walked down the street, just to understand the exact point Sciamma was attempting to make. This almost created a continue sense of community as people began to listen to different groups and chime in with their own theories.
The film relies heavily on intersectional analysis in order to convey the narrative with focus lying primarily with class, gender, race, and sexuality. One of the topics most central to the story is Vic’s desire to reach a different life full of success that she cannot see in the place she lives. Early on Vic is seen facing an invisible school counselor begging to be allowed to repeat the year for the third time in the hopes of getting into high school rather than a vocational school (Sciamma, Girlhood). The suburb Vic resides in is predominantly working class and likely the majority went on to such institutions if they continued in education at all. It is revealed that although Vic wants to move forward, she has a number of oppressive forces against her such as her position in the working class and her female gender. No father figure is present in the film and Vic’s mother works long hours as a hotel maid, a career path Vic aggressively denies, and her character becomes almost obsolete due to her excessive working. Vic’s family appears to adhere to typical gender essentialism ideology that states men are not responsible for domestic duties such as child rearing, cleaning, and cooking but are more suited to working outside of the home to provide (Aulette, Wittner). Although Vic’s elder brother has no steady employment, these responsibilities are instead left to Vic, who cares for two younger sisters, the elder of the two is also forced to assist and eventually take over after Vic’s departure. It is clear that the duties that lie within the home where her family needs her and her education becomes an afterthought. Vic chooses not to attend vocational school and drops out all together along with her friends.
A subtler note Sciamma makes is in the social constructions, which are norms or beliefs created by media and culture and shape behaviors within society, associated with the girls’ hair related to their feminine expectations (Tolmie). The image of hair also has implications upon their race as women of colour. One of the most common manifestations of this in society is that of long, smooth, silky hair. This image is constructed by the typical hair type possessed by white women who the estimated majority female population in France (World Population Review). Upon meeting Lady, Adiatou, and Fily, Vic changes her entire appearance overnight (Sciamma, Girlhood). The most drastic of these changes is seen in that of her hair from dreadlocks to straight, smooth hair (Sciamma, Girlhood). As a woman of African origins, Vic’s hair is coarse and curly naturally, growing outwards rather than downwards and therefore not matching the white perpetuation of beauty. The majority of the girls in the film, including Vic’s small gang, all have been most likely either chemically treated their hair with a relaxer or appear to wear extensions or wigs in order for their hair to achieve a similar look. Shortly after her transformation, Vic’s unattainable crush Ismael suddenly becomes interested and strikes up a secret relationship (Sciamma, Girlhood). This focus on hair is also seen in another scene in which Lacy is beaten in a physical altercation with another girl posse (Sciamma, Girlhood). As punishment for the loss, Lady’s father cuts off all of her hair becoming a hot topic of gossip among the teenagers (Sciamma, Girlhood). In the aftermath, the boys Lady once considered her friends and equals call her, “[…] just a chick,” who is unable to fight and state that her hair makes her look unattractive yelling at her to leave (Sciamma, Girlhood). In both of these instances, Lady and Vic are attempting to meet not only the social constructions of beauty, but also that of exaggerated femininity (Kwiat). Exaggerated femininity is the idea that women must conform themselves into a woman possessing socially constructed perfect feminine qualities in order to satisfy male desires (Kwiat). Both girls are shown by the men in their lives that positive attention is given when possessing the long straight hair, and isolation is given to those who do not.
Vic’s relationship with Ismael comes under extreme strain throughout the last third of the film as a result of both her gender and its relation to her sexuality. After her first sexual experience with him, Vic is branded as the neighbourhood slut. This emphasizes the idea of the cult of the virgin, which identifies the societal belief that virginity is the most important virtue one possesses, particularly in women, and is clearly still strong in Vic’s community (Tolmie). Vic feels this as her community ostracizes her and her brother brutally beats her for bringing shame upon herself, the family, and most importantly him (Sciamma, Girlhood). In an attempt to assist, Ismael even offers to marry Vic stating it is the only way to improve her reputation, as his public image remains untarnished (Sciamma, Girlhood). One of the most key scenes in the film is between Ismael and Vic after she has left her home. Vic has cut her hair into a short style and has begun wearing larger clothing making her appear to look like the male figures surrounding her (Sciamma, Girlhood). As the couple begins to get intimate, Ismael removes her shirt to reveal Vic has begun bandaging her torso in an attempt to disguise her breasts (Sciamma, Girlhood). This is a typical technique used by female to male transgendered individuals who feel that although their genitalia are biologically female, they identify as a male (Gray). Ismael is horrified stating that it was just like her hair change and he becomes disgusted with her and leaves (Sciamma, Girlhood). This is another example of the exaggerated femininity that Ismael expects from Vic, which she has now refused to comply with, causing her to be left alone (Kwiat).
Girlhood as a film as fantastic to watch, particularly for the sake of analysis. Intersectionality appears to be at the forefront of the movie’s issues. Sciamma attempts to make the audience recognize that Vic’s struggles do not stem from one part of her being, but rather stem from the various forces of oppression that she is faced with. The audience predominantly sees the bridges between Vic’s gender, socio-economic class, and race, but due to the nature of the film’s many intentional plot holes, the viewer must look deeper in order to see the connections to her sexuality. The entire question of this is never truly addressed, and Vic never explicitly experiments with females or makes clear if her dress choices are now permanent. This was one of the main questions asked by the crowds gathered outside the theatre, and I can only hope that the other audience members were able to reflect and discover how sexuality intersected with the many other factors to determine Vic’s life.

Works Cited

Aulette, Judy Root., and Judith G. Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.

Bramowitz, Julie. “Céline Sciamma’s Newest Film, Girlhood, Changes the Face of the Coming-of-Age Story.” Vogue. Conde Nast, 30 Jan. 2015. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

Girlhood. Dir. Celine Sciamma. Perf. Karidja Toure, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh, Marietou Toure. Strand Releasing, 2014. Film.

Gray, Ira. “Chest Binding 101 – FTM Binder Guide | FTM Binding, Chest Binder, Breast Binders.” TransGuyscom. Trans Media Network, 06 Sept. 2010. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

Kwiat, Paulina. “Exaggerated Femininity.” Prezi.com. Prezi Inc., 17 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

Tolmie, Jane, Dr. “Ads, Images, and Visual Culture.” Biosciences Auditorium, Kingston. 26 Jan. 2015. Lecture.

Tolmie, Jane, Dr. “Entertainment.” Biosciences Auditorium, Kingston. 12 Jan. 2015. Lecture.

World Population Review. “France Population 2014.” France Population 2014. World Population Review, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

How Overcoming Oppression Makes Lives Worth Living

On January 31,2015 as part of the Reelout Film Festival in Kingston, I attended the film Lives Worth Living. I had never been to a film festival and did not know what to expect. I went into the Screening Room where there was a line up of people at the door, we walked into a small theater and a man came up to the front to provide a background on the short films we were going to be watching. Unlike the majority of the movies I watch which contain a heterosexual matrix, Lives Worth Living contained multiple gender identities and many sexualities that one may identify with. Lives Worth Living was a series of short films that displayed many issues in modern day society that contain cross-cultural relevance. The series of films were all extremely unique and each displayed a very different way of telling a story. The first was a tape recording where a narrator described the pain of losing her brother. The simple visuals allowed all the focus to be on the words and the pain displayed in the author’s voice. The second film was a beautiful silent film that displayed two men overcoming obstacles and seemingly impossible differences to fall in love. This was an incredible film that would most likely not get much media attention because the lead characters were sexual minorities.

My personal favorite film featured another sexual minority, an LGBTQ women struggling with anxiety who attempts to hide her anxiety because she thinks then she will have a better chance of the woman she loves loving her back. Most modern day popular movie are shown through a lens of androcentrism, with the movie being about how the overly sexualized female can gain the attention of the male. Everything is centered on the man and how the woman can please the man to win his attention. This movie is very much the opposite, with two female leads it adds an interesting dynamic where it is not about a female trying to please a man, but instead 2 females being honest and open with each other and forming a relationship based upon that. This movie is my favorite because there are so many places where the viewer can think deeper into the film. The main character struggles with anxiety, the anxiety is especially prevalent when she is in situations where others could judge her, the female lead character does not dress like a stereotypical female, but instead chooses to wear traditionally male clothing. Children are often raised with gender socialization; children are taught because they have a specific sex they should act a certain way. (Boundless, 2014) When children choose to go against societal pressures and dress how they choose to, they are often judged and ridiculed which can cause many stresses in their lives, often disorders such as anxiety can be developed as well, this could have been the cause of some of the women in the films anxiety.

In the media today, the main feature films are based on characters with heterosexual privilege. They are commonly white, upper class, physically attractive, heterosexual people, if there are people of color or of a lower socioeconomic status they are typically placed in highly stereotypical roles. In Lives Worth Living, the minorities that are typically marginalized in society and not displayed in the media were the featured roles. One short film was about Phantom Rude who was a transgender drag queen. The movie was a documentary on Phantom Rude’s life, the appeal in watching this movie is that for those of us who are bound by our white privilege in that we commonly view movies that pertain to our place in society, with actors who are similar to the majorities of society, there is often a high underrepresentation of minorities. Our white privilege blinds us to the needs of those around us, (MacIntosh, 1989) Watching Phantom Rude’s story provided the viewers a glimpse into the lives of those who are often cast out by society. Watching Phantom Rude’s story illustrates that so many people who are marginalized have incredible lives and stories that we never get to see.

The short film in Lives Worth Living all demonstrated different forms of intersectionality. In one film there was a girl who was struggling with anxiety and the fear of letting people know what she was struggling with. She was also struggling with society marginalizing her because she identified as LGBTQ. Both these issues are interlocking and both cause oppression. Telling people about her anxiety would not completely provide the freedom she is searching for, she must also find people who will support her and encourage her in her sexuality. Fixing one if the issues would still leave her facing oppression. The main character must find support for both of the struggles she is facing in order for the oppression to be resolved. Simply finding support for one of the forms of oppression would not solve the issue because the oppression would still be there. Phantom Rude also faces oppression because he is lower class as evident in that he is living out of a van, and also LGBTQ. Phantom Rude experiences oppression for being lower class and for being transgender. If one of these oppressions were to be alleviated, the problem would still be present as there would still be oppression based on the remaining circumstance that would still exist.

Overall Lives Worth Living was a very well done film. It highlighted people who were often marginalized by society however had incredible stories to tell. It brought to light issues that society likes to pass over such as oppression faced by LGBTQ, suicide, mental illness, and treatment of those living in poverty. Watching Lives Worth living was a very eye-opening experience that I would highly recommend.

-thelazyriser

Works Cited:

“Gender Socialization – Boundless Open Textbook.” Boundless. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

“Lives Worth Living Shorts Program.” Reelout. Reelout Arts Program Inc., n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.

MacIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege, Unpacking the Invisible Backpack” Web. 9 Feb. 2015.

An in depth look at Boy Meets Girl

film festival was first introduced to me one afternoon while sitting in a course at Queen’s University. There I was siting in the Biosci Auditorium on a Thursday morning when three unknown individuals walking into the lecture hall to inform approximately 400 students all about the Reelout film Festival. I was intrigued almost instantly with the purpose of the Reelout film festival. I felt as though this film festival is one that reaches out to the community to let us know that there are more than the stereotypical heterosexual romantic movie, there are more than those sport filled action type movies. The Reelout Film Festival is one that does a good job at reaching out to provide a balance between gender and race through the use of popular culture.

The three presenters informed students of the class how to go about buying tickets to this festival and me being myself, I thought that I could get away without buying tickets ahead of time. But boy was I wrong! It was the day before my movie was to be shown and I checked online to see that the movie I was interested in was all sold out! I was very interested in the movie Boy Meets Girl not only because I would get to look at the soft skinned, blue-eyed beauty, Michael Welch throughout the entire film but mostly because I was interested in the story line which included your stereotypical romantic-comedy but with a transgendered girl.

So there I was 24 hours before my movie was going to be aired without a movie ticket,. To be sure I attended a movie at this festival I had bought a ticket to the movie “First Period” which was to be showed on Friday evening. However, I so desperately wanted a viewing to Boy Meets Girl that my determined self decided to hike on downtown to the screening room an hour and a half before tickets were being sold. I understood that there were only approximately 7 tickets left at the door but that was not stopping me from attempting to see this movie. An hour and a half past and I was 7th in line and I got my ticket! I now was in the theater ready to see this movie that I my determined self wanted to see. There I was making some new friends that were from upper year gender courses who were 8th and 9th in line chatting the entire time about whether or not they were going to get in. Sure enough, we all got in to the screening because the roads were bad thus multiple people didn’t show!

There I was on Wednesday, February 4th in a theatre that holds about 80 people filled with the awful stench of popcorn sitting front and center. Due to some technological issues the movie didn’t actually start showing until about 7:20. Boy Meets Girl was about a 22-year-old transgendered girl: Ricky, living in the state of Kentucky. She was someone who has never dated before and just wanted to experience love. Her best friend Robby from childhood was with someone who was always with her throughout the entire film he was a friend that stuck by Ricky’s side no matter what and was there to always talk. One day while working in a coffee shop Ricky meets an attractive young female, Francesca who is at the time engaged to her fiancé, David who is off with the Marines in Afghanistan. From the time in the coffee shop and on Francesca and Ricky spark an instant relationship, which is when some jealousy traits start to be revealed from Ricky’s friend, Robby.

The movie Boy Meets Girl is one that included an easy to follow story line. The simple story behind this film is about a transgendered girl experimenting to find true love. Now with Ricky sexually identifying herself as a female this leads to her to be a sexual minority throughout the movie, which then leads to other issues that people have with Ricky. However, Ricky’s character was made out to be someone who was clearly comfortable in her own skin and was not afraid to stand her own ground. I thought overall, the movie did a great job in representing that all though you may be minority in society, you are capable to stand your own ground and it reminded movie watchers that you have the freedom to be who you want to be and love whom you want to love.

The movie has specific scenes, which clearly represent homophobia. The one that comes to mind most is when Francesca was skyping her fiancé, David and he made it completely clear that there was no way Ricky could be a girl because she grew up a boy. He also wanted to be clear that Francesca was to no longer be hanging around Ricky and she should be referring to her as a boy. It was an instant conversation changer when Francesca had mentioned Ricky’s name. This scene had a lot of significance to a class like Gender, Race and Popular Culture. It demonstrated an act of homophobia but it also demonstrated a class act of how to handle it. Francesca was not pleased with the way David had acted regarding Ricky and she would not stand for it. If there were more people like Francesca in society, there would be less hate around. Lastly, the film reveals examples of gender spectrum, when Robby is portrayed as the hotshot boy who has experienced multiple sexual relations with other girls. But in the end, he ends up with Ricky. Proving that he was just confused about who he wanted! This proves that gender isn’t all black and white but it is about experiencing the spectrum of it all.

The movie Boy Meets Girl, was one that honestly kept me on the edge of my chair throughout the entire movie even though it wasn’t an action filled movie. There were scenes that had viewers guessing and assuming about what was going to happen. This is a film I would most definitely recommend watching!

Taking a Look at “The Way He Looks”

After viewing the trailer in class, I had high expectations going to see The Way He Looks, the film based off of I Don’t Want To Back Alone, a short film created by the same director and producer combo: Brazil native Daniel Ribeiro and Diana Almeida from Mozambique. The film’s website boasts 31 different awards and a worldwide release to 22 countries.

So, on Saturday, January 31st, I journeyed down to The Screening Room to see if The Way He Looks would hold up to my expectations. The film was being shown as part of Reel Out Film Festival. I sat down in the second row of the small theatre, which was quickly filling up with other people around my age. As soon as the film started, I regretted not sitting in the very front row, since it was at times hard to read the English subtitles at the bottom of the screen. However, I tried to ignore this extremely minor inconvenience and enjoy the film.

The Way He Looks is a coming of age story following blind teenager, Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo), as he grapples with gaining more independence from both his parents and his best friend, Giovana (Tess Amorim). Leo’s world is turned upside down when he meets Gabriel (Fabio Audi), a new student, who he immediately connects with. The film explores his relationship with Gabriel as well as his friendship with Giovana all while Leo deals with the taunting from his classmates.

Let’s start off with what I really liked about the film. First of all, it was beautifully scored, including songs by Belle and Sebastian and The National alongside classical music (Leonardo’s favourite genre). The cinematography was also quite stunning, exploring the boundaries of film with quirky camera work. An example of this is the precise and fixed birds’ eye view shot of Leo, Giovana, and Gabriel by Giovana’s pool; a shot that is repeated throughout the film.

But my favourite thing about the film was the freshness of the storyline. To me, The Way He Looks is a love story between two boys, but it doesn’t try to bring attention to the fact that it is a homosexual relationship. Many queer love stories (such as Brokeback Mountain or Lilies) often emphasize the homosexuality, which is important in some regards, but it also makes queer relationships seem abnormal. The Way He Looks did a terrific job of balancing between showing how homosexuals are disadvantaged in society due to unfair gender stereotypes and biases but also portraying the relationship in a very real form. The film also demonstrates an understanding of the gender spectrum, as both Leonardo and Gabriel are shown considering a relationship with a girl – Leonardo wanting to kiss Marta at a party, and Gabriel flirting with Karina on the school camping trip. Although these scenarios can be interpreted as the boys being “confused about their sexuality,” I think that it serves to show that sexuality is a spectrum, not black and white.

The Way He Looks also deals with the intersectionality of its characters and how it affects them. Leonardo is not only homosexual, but blind, allowing the film to comment on ablebodied privilege. The race of the characters can also be pointed out – they are all Latin American – however, the movie does not address many problems of race, other than portraying the US as a “safe haven” for Leonardo when he decides he wants to go there to escape from his overprotective parents.

I want to take a look at the final scene in the film (this section will include spoilers, of course) – the pivotal moment when Leonardo is ready to let the world know about his feelings for Gabriel. As Leo, Gabriel, and Giovana are walking home after school, Fabio, the boy who leads others in bullying Leonardo for the entire movie, mocks Leonardo for holding Gabriel’s arm, an action that throughout the story was more for utility than romance. They stop walking, and the next shot is a close up as Leonardo tentatively slides his hand down Gabriel’s arm so that they are holding hands. Fabio’s friends then laugh, but more so at Fabio than Leonardo and Gabriel. I thought this scene was a perfect ending to the film, again serving to normalize homosexual relationships since Leonardo and Gabriel’s classmates are not shown teasing Leonardo for being in a relationship with a boy.

There are a few things that I would have liked to see in the film that was not brought up at all. Mainly, it would have been interesting to see how Leonardo’s parents would react to him being in a relationship with a boy. Leonardo and Gabriel’s relationship is also quite desexualized (they are only shown kissing, although Gabriel does also stare at a naked Leo in the shower), which displays that the filmmakers think that audiences are not quite ready to see homosexual relationships in the explicit way that heterosexual relationships are portrayed in the movies. I understand that both Leonardo and Gabriel are young, but I think the director/writer could have pushed their relationship a wee bit further.

Overall, I can’t think of many ways in which The Way He Looks could be improved. It was a cute and quirky film about extremely loveable characters that find love while navigating the maze that is adolescence. I would extremely recommend watching it – I’ll definitely be watching it again, as well.

– curlyfrypoutine

Works Cited:

“The Film.” The Way He Looks. Lacuna Filmes, 2014. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <http://www.thewayhelooks.com/#!about/c10fk&gt;.

“The Way He Looks.” Internet Movie Database. IMDb.com, Inc., 2015. Web. 8 Feb. 2015. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1702014/&gt;.

The Way He Looks. Perf. Ghilherme Lobo, Fabio Audi, Tess Amorim. Vitrine Films, 2014. Film.