Blerd Film Club: Pariah


Alike, who goes by Lee is 17 and coming up on an end to highs school. She spends her time in strip with her friend Laura, who's a lesbian. Audrey is Alike's mom and she tries to force her to be more girly. Alike refuses to wear dresses and makeup, nor does she want to prepare to be a good wife to a man. In fact, Alike isn't even sure she likes men. She seems to be attracted to women, but is afraid to ever make her move.

That's until she meets a woman named Bina. Bina takes charge, and they eventually have sex. Alike is sure she's a lesbian now, a butch lesbian, it all makes sense to her now. She knows who she is. Alike wants to be with Bina but Bina informs her that she's not "gay gay," which confuses Alike. Alike maintains a good relationship with her father Arthur and her younger sister who notice that something is changing about her. 

Arthur and Audrey have an intense fight over Alike. Audrey is tired of trying to make her more lady like but Arthur just wants her to be happy. Alike intends to stop the argument but her sister Sharonda tries to hold her back. Alike tells her family that she's a lesbian and her mother goes into a fit of rage attacking her. While Arthur holds Audrey back, Alike takes the opportunity to run away.

I always see these wonderful videos of people coming out to their families and they have a loving embrace. It's touching, amazing and fills you with some hope. But, have you ever thought about all the stories that don't get told? The stories without loving videos? The stories don't have a happy ending? Coming out the closet can be a traumatizing experience if there is no acceptance, but instead intolerance. 

It's interesting how two people can love each other, and raise a family together, but never know how they feel on certain topics, until it comes home. Recently I was reading a post on Reddit where a man was confused about what to do, because his wife kept calling there son gay, despite both telling her to stop. He had no idea wife was homophobic despite being married close to twenty years. I'm not sure how it happens, but it does. The film Pariah is a semi-autobiographical film written and directed by Dee Rees. It's not only a coming of age story, but a coming out story, and the story of multiple relationships deteriorating.

I actually remember seeing this film for the first time in 2011 or maybe early 2012. It's not exceptionally long, and the story isn't complex, it's a fast and easy watch. However, it stuck in my head. The reason being is I had never seen a film about coming out that followed a Black person. Even today, LGBTQ+ films about coming out tend to center around white teenagers and everything turns out okay and the only roadblocks are mental. The thing is, that just isn't reality for everyone. It isn't reality for most people. Especially when you take into account factors like religion which has a strong grip, near unshakable on many parts of the country. It's different, and probably made people uncomfortable, but it needed to. 

I know people love safe spaces these days, and I do too. I believe everyone needs one. But, sometimes you need to be uncomfortable in order to grow. For Arthur, that came watching his wife's reaction. For Lee she had her heart broken to understand. It's traumatic, but it doesn't need to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sometimes it's Post Traumatic Growth. 

You can check out some of my short stories at 12 AM Fiction or if you like vampires follow my web serial Exsanguinate and of course hear me on the Powerbomb Jutsu podcast if you enjoy pro wrestling.

Blerd Film Club: Pariah Blerd Film Club: Pariah Reviewed by Darrell S. on Thursday, February 11, 2021 Rating: 5

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