April 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

On Monday April 16, I had the privilege of viewing “Difficult Love” by Zanele Muholi at Purdue’s LGBTQIA Film Festival. This award winning film presented different aspects of lesbian women’s lives in South Africa. Muholi is a homosexual photographer who carries her camera with her everywhere she goes. She captures wonderful and also disastrous moments in black lesbian’s lives. Her goal was to take pictures that “spoke to her, showed her community, and documented her community.”

Muholi interviewed and photographed many different couples in the film. One couple that I enjoyed learning about, were two homeless lesbians who built a home under a bridge. I liked this interview because it showed how much life and love this couple shared. They had nothing yet they were so happy to have each other. They spoke of the hardships of being gay in South Africa because many people believe it is wrong. One of the women’s families shut her out and will not speak to her for being gay along with homeless shelters not welcoming them because they are lesbians. They also shared on how each woman felt about being rejected by society because they came from different backgrounds. One woman was white and did not suffer as much oppression as the other who was black and tortured during the apartheid. Society oppresses both of these lesbians, but the black woman felt more pain and rejection because of her race.

Black women face even more discrimination for being lesbian because they are black, and being gay is considered to be white culture. Society tells them that they are not welcome and are a shame to the culture because they are gay. One woman was interviewed who had a black eye and swollen face because she had been raped for being gay. She had asked a man for a lighter and he told her that she needed to know what it was like to be with a man. Muholi was absolutely heart broken that the country she grew up in, treats lesbians this way. South Africa was supposed to be her home, not her enemy.

Muholi herself is a lesbian. She created this documentary to show the oppression of lesbians in Africa. She wants the world to know that lesbian couples are real people and have real relationships. These couples are not monsters and should not be treated as such. The photographs that Muholi took are beautiful and tell a story of love and companionship along with culture. The photos show who these women really are and that they should be allowed to express themselves.

I learned a lot from this film. Before taking this course I did not know that black homosexuals are discriminated against differently that white homosexuals. I also did not know that it was considered a white “disease.” This film taught me about the oppression that women go through just for being who they are. Race, gender, and class really are problems all around the world. Even homeless people who are gay are discriminated against. I definitely recommend this movie because it shows the problems in South Africa but it also gives the viewers hope. It shows these lesbian couples in a real and beautiful light. And that is what they deserve.


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You are currently reading ON CAMPUS LECTURE: “DIFFICULT LOVE” at genderculture.


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