Pariah: The Story of Being a Young Lesbian in the Black Community

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I am back with another colorful commentary on a movie I watched on Netflix called Pariah. It’s the story of a girl named Alike or Lee as she is called who is a 17-year old junior who is a lesbian trying to find her place. She lives with her dad who is a cop and works late hours and her mom who is very religious and straight lased. She also has a younger sister who is like the opposite of her who talks about going out with boys to prom. Lee has this double life where she goes to the “ladies” clubs with her friend Laura who is also lesbian but is more confident then Lee. Laura lives with her sister because their mom basically disowned them and is just really hateful person but is a good friend to Lee much to Lee’s mother’s dismay. Long story short in the end Lee ends up coming out to her parents and gets slapped by her mother which causes her to move out and live with Laura. Luckily for Lee though she is an excellent student who is very into poetry and ends up getting a scholarship to go to college early in Barkley which she accepts and decides to leave.

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Now one of big plot points in this story is a friend that Lee makes named Brie who her mother sets her up with as she goes to her church. At first Lee just hangs out with Brie to make her mom happy but after a while they start to find common ground like music and poetry. Brie tells Lee about a party that she is going to and asks her if she wants to spend the night at her house. While they are kicking it at Brie’s house Brie ends up kissing her which takes Lee back and she ends up leaving. The next day at school they end up talking about it and Lee agrees to go to the party. They go to the party and they have a really great time and Lee seems to be really happy holding hands with Brie and everything. Once the party is over they get back to Brie’s house and they are laying on her bead and one thing leads to another and they end up having sex. When Lee wakes up in the morning Brie is cleaning the room and seems kind of off. Lee starts to tell her that being with her was amazing and that they can keep their relationship on the DL but Brie assures her that she is not a lesbian but that she just kind of does that kind of stuff. This pisses Lee and myself off too and she storms out and kicks a trash can running home crying prompting her parents to start arguing about her and she ends up coming out.

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I really do like Brie played by one of my favorite actresses Aasha Davis who has played on lesbian friendly shows before like South of Nowhere. Brie is a very fun and interesting different girl. She likes underground hip-hop and afro-punk and dresses very different with her afro puffs, big earrings, scarfs and colorful leggings. To be honest I would probably be friends with Brie except for one thing I really hated that she played Lee that way. Brie came on to Lee not the other way around and to just play with someone who is that venerable is terrible. I get it that there are people out there that like to experiment with girls but she straight played her and then in the end went back to her dumb boyfriend. If you think sleeping with lesbians makes you seem edge or different then that’s sad, you get all the benefits of being with a girl without the stigma.

This was a very interesting indie flick over all that came out in 2011 and did very well at Sundance. I think it is a good representation of a conversation that a lot of black people need to have. Black people and the church are very intertwined but it doesn’t always make it right. Now I am not saying that somebodies religion is wrong but anything that tells you to hate someone for who they love is just wrong but that is all up to how that church feels about it. Take Alike’s mom who by the way was played by Kim Wayne of the Wayne comedians but anyway she just tried and tried to get Lee to be more girly. She bought her a pink blouse and insisting she go to prom also she disapproves of Lee’s friendship with Laura as she thinks that being around her is turning Lee into a boy. After slapping her child she prompts Lee to end up moving out and living with Laura. Then after having a conversation with her dad Lee goes to visit her mom at work. Lee tries to have a good conversation with her but all she can say to her is “I’ll pray for you.” Now you can say the mom had it pretty hard as the dad might have been having an affair and never really cared about her but that still doesn’t give her the right to act the way she does towards her daughter.

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Now something else I liked about this movie is its music. When Lee is hanging out with Brie they start to bond over some really cool underground hip-hop and afro punk like Tamar Kali who ends up being the musical act at the party in the movie. I love Tamar Kali and thought she was wonderful artist to have in a movie about self-acceptance being the queen of Afro-Punk.

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I also loved how they explored different versions of what being a lesbian means. Lee was very different then Laura in that Laura was very much a club girl who finds go in that life style where she is happy whereas Lee will go to the clubs to support Laura but is more into poetry and music.

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Another thing I do like even though he doesn’t always stand up for Lee in front of her mom is the fact that the dad tries to relate to Lee. Now it is hard when you’re at work all the time but he does try to have a good relationship with Lee like playing basketball with her and have fatherly talks with her. He even feels terrible in the end and tries to get Lee to come home.

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Now if this movie was made in 2015 the narrative might be a little different with homosexual marriage being passed and living under a president who is in favor of LGBTQA rights but not by much. Over all a good little indie flick to check out.

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Till next time you are what you love not who loves you!

Here is some of the music featured in the movie.

Tamar Kali: an American rock singer-songwriter based in Brooklyn, New York. The latter part of her name was taken from the Hindu goddess of war and power.

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