Safe spaces are more than just a refuge. They nurture strength and honest dialogue, especially for people in the LGBT community.
On Oct. 21, A24 Films released a movie called “Moonlight” which depicts the life of a black man in Miami grappling with his own sexual orientation.
It is relevant today because the movie’s protagonist represents a key demographic struggling to find acceptance.
“I think it’s incredibly relevant because of intersectionality,” said Michelle Cerami, California Lutheran University’s P.R.I.D.E. club president. “What does queer mean and what does it look like when its intersectional because being queer is more than being a white gay man.”
The term intersectionality is defined as the study of discrimination or oppression among different biological, social and cultural categories such as race, religion or gender to name a few.
This idea is present in “Moonlight” and plays a key part in the movies unfolding. Its Florida release was received with widespread acclaim for its compelling story.
The film’s plot paints the picture of Chiron, the main character. The movie starts with him as a child around the age of 6, being played by Alex Hibbert. His identity and how he comes to find it starts in this chapter of the film. This is a reoccurring theme until the conclusion. The fight to find self-acceptance is illustrated in “Moonlight” through the different stages of Chiron’s life.
In the next chapter of the picture, Chiron is in his teenage years, played by Ashton Sanders. This is where Chiron’s character is tested while he contends with incredibly formative realizations about himself and his peers.
The last chapter of the movie shows Chiron as an adult, played by Trevante Rhodes. It has become clear that a childhood plagued by strife, heartache and sorrow has taken its toll on Chiron, now going by “Black” a nickname given to him as a child.
This last chapter gives way to a major theme present in much of the movie: drug use. Surrounded by it as a child and onto his adulthood, Chiron was exposed to drugs, and that contributed to his increasing anger and fear of the world around him. Eventually it fully enveloped his life in a major way.
“In the queer community, drug use has been a problem and in the P.R.I.D.E. club, we like to discuss current issues like this. Because it is important and it does affect everybody,” Cerami said.
Part of the struggle of coming out is rooted in the fact that coming out as a gay black man in his community presents struggles not often depicted through film. From childhood to adulthood, Chiron battles for acceptance of both himself and his community.
“I am not going to make the statement that blacks are more homophobic than people of other races, because I do not believe that is necessarily true,” said Zach Stafford of the Huffington Post. “I will say that when you are black and gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, you deal with much more complicated issues than people of other races.”
With no one around him to confide in, negativity and uncertainty were looming over his head. A safe place in which identities can be shared and discussed can help those struggling to find themselves, like Chiron and so many others in his position.
P.R.I.D.E. club represents a safe environment of contemporary discussions of LGBTQ issues on California Lutheran University’s campus.
“In the beginning of the semester, the officers and I brainstormed what are the things we think are relevant,” Cerami said. “[This semester] we’ve talked about coming out in the context of 2016.”
The issues discussed in the P.R.I.D.E. club represent a current look at what is troubling the community around them and what they find to be pressing. For instance, this last meeting included discussion about the election season and the nations newly elected leader, Donald Trump.
The club meets every Thursday at 6 p.m. in one of the Nygreen rooms. The location will be confirmed if on the email list.
“Keep having these conversations, never be silenced. It is this dialogue that helps the community the most,” Cerami said.
Students who belong to the LGBT community already face difficulties in coming out, especially if they are a double minority. Encouraging a safe environment for them to question and explore is crucial to their development as human beings.