In her eye-opening debut film, Nneka Onuorah examines a form of prejudice that is rarely discussed in mainstream media. While it is common to think of homophobia as simply a straight versus gay issue, The Same Difference shows that discrimination can also be found within the African-American lesbian community.
Exploring four of the unwritten rules, that are treated as gospel within the community, Onuorah shows that ingrained beliefs around conformity are adding to the already numerous hurdles women of colour must face. One of the striking things the film dissects is the way in which the “appearance is everything” mentality is eroding the culture from within. For a community that is constantly fighting against the labels that heterosexuals place on them, it is disheartening to see them force their own into specific boxes. Studs are expected to adhere to more masculine features, the notion of them wearing makeup, having a weave or getting pregnant is considered a betrayal to the image they are supposed to be representing.
The same types of prejudice can be found within couples that do not follow the expected stud/femme pairings. Onuorah’s film exposes that traditional gender roles also play out in their own unique way within the African-American community. The idea of two studs, or two femmes, together can lead to homophobic slurs and looks of disgust.
Bring in Empire’s AzMarie Livingston, Orange is the New Black’s Lea Delaria, The Wire’s Felicia “Snoop” Pearson, as well as other prominent figures and regular individuals, to share their experiences, The Same Differences provides a well-rounded examination of the hypocrisies that have made people feel ostracized from their own community. Packing a lot of information into a swift running time, Onuorah does a wonderful job of combating the “rules” by showing that each woman is more than what she appears to be on the surface.
Promoting the universal need for acceptance, The Same Difference is an important conversation starter that reminds us that no two individuals are the same. So why berate others for being different in the first place?
Sunday, May 29, 4:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Tickets can be purchased at the Inside Out website.