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Why My Gal Pals and I Are Making a Documentary about Lesbian Identity

Why My Gal Pals and I Are Making a Documentary about Lesbian Identity

Why My Gal Pals and I Are Making a Documentary about Lesbian Identity

On a Saturday night in early January, I was feeling down after a recent breakup. Usually, I don't mind being alone, but that night I was feeling particularly lonely.

My friends were busy, so I did what any self-respecting 20-something does and turned to Google.

“Things for lesbians in L.A.” Nothing.

“Lesbian events Los Angeles.” Nothing.

“Lesbian L.A.?” Nothing.

I found a couple articles about lesbian bars that used to exist, but they had since been laid to rest. I thought, This is odd — I live in one of the gayest cities in America, but I cannot find anything for queer women. I became curious and asked myself, Are there lesbian hangout spots anywhere? 

I turned to Google one more time: “Best lesbian cities in USA.”

The top hit was an article written in 2012 about the top 25 American cities for lesbians. I wondered what these other cities were like. L.A. was on the list, but it is hard to find anything here. Are other cities the same?

Seriously, calling all lesbians, where are you??

On this particular night, I was lying in bed thinking about how I came out at 21 and have been in relationships ever since. I knew in some ways that I was finding validation of my sexuality in these relationships. My self-worth relied predominantly on the women I dated.

Now, at 24, I was feeling like I had lost all confidence in myself.

I have no idea what it means to be a single queer woman. I felt completely disconnected from queer community since coming out. How do other queer women do it? This question lingered in my mind.

Later that night, my friend Chanelle Tyson and I were texting about Aaron Carter’s Twitter presence (because LOL) and I threw out the idea of exploring lesbian communities in other cities. She immediately loved the concept. We met and started bouncing ideas back and forth.

After various conversations, we decided that the guiding tagline for our documentary should be “In search of love, community, and a mixed bag of queer women.” The tagline has taken on multiple meanings for us as a group. Love is not just romantic love; love entails self-love, friendly love and communal love. Where are the spaces where self-love is fostered?

Soon after texting with my friend, I met up with two of my other friends, Claire Heddles and Jess Walter, for a lesbian event that happens once a month in Los Angeles, because as I previously mentioned, lesbian events tend to be rare. After getting home from that event, we stayed up talking into the wee hours of the morning about memories of that group and turned again to the Los Angeles queer scene. This is when we realized we had to do something about it, and that is when Calling All Lesbians was born.

Check out our trailer below:

The three of us met at Azusa Pacific University, a Christian university in the greater Los Angeles area, which was where we all started understanding our sexuality and where, ironically, we experienced queer community for the first time. We found a place in the unofficial underground queer-straight alliance in opposition to the school’s discriminatory behavioral clauses.

Simultaneously in college, I was coming to terms with and beginning to understand what it means to be a mixed-race person in the world. I was not quite ready to fully explore another complex identity marker (being gay). It was not until toward the end of college that I began to own this part of me and come out to myself. It was right at this time that I began my first relationship with a woman. This led to a few more, nearly back-to-back relationships for three consecutive years.

As we continue to develop our vision for the documentary, our purpose has shifted to carry a deeper meaning. Conversations we have had with older lesbians who have convinced me of the importance of their relentless work to give us the liberties we have today in 2016 that have reshaped our comprehension of community. Community is about respecting our history, so in turn, we can unite to reinforce and honor our legacy.

We believe that in-depth roles of women, authentic roles for people of color, and everyday queer stories are missing from the mainstream media. Therefore, my crew and I hope that Calling All Lesbians will contribute to a new body of work changing that narrative. The intersectionality of race, class, gender, and sexuality are imperative to the understanding of the human experience and the struggle for justice.

Calling All Lesbians will travel and explore six main West Coast cities: Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, to discover how community for lesbian and queer women is fostered, to address the general lack of community spaces for lesbian and queer women and to bolster visibility and diversity of queer women in the media.

Chanelle, Claire, Jess, and I are a mixed bag of queer women with our own unique stories and experiences, which continue to affect and be reflected in our work in this project. One phrase that we repeat among ourselves is, "If you don't see yourself in the media, you have to create it." So here we are.

calling all lesbians

Calling All Lesbians is currently taking donations to cover production costs on our Indiegogo page.

Our team, pictured above: Chanel Shuffler, producer; Chanelle Tyson, cinematographer; Claire Heddles, research; Jess Walter, photography. 

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Chanel Shuffler