I am a "PARIAH": Through Film Dee Rees Tells My Story, Our Stories

As the lights went up, more the year ago, I sat in the balcony of the Egyptian theatre, with Kai - my twin, sobbing uncontrollably and only marginally concerned with who might be watching. For any of you who know me very well, that's not normal. I'd sooner hide my face behind a soaked cotton t-shirt than let anyone see me publicly cry. But I was at an the OUTFEST Los Angeles screening of "Pariah," a film, by Dee Rees. Even as a short, it hit so close to home it brought me back to some of the most diffcult portions of my teenage years.

I went to OUTFEST particularly to see this film. And nearly 2 years later just watching this trailer makes me well up from the memories. The story of this young woman is almost parallel to my OWN - not just a young woman, but a young queer/les bLaK woman struggling to get a stranglehold on a sense of self, that even now I have to sometimes fight myself to muster. And it awakens some of that deep seated hurt that have yet to fully heal, because we still live in a world where our civil liberties are up for popular vote. And where I struggle almost daily to put together the right words to plead a case so logically sound that I can't be rebutted by uncritical and unthoughtful analysis, often taken as common sense truth.

I'm not asking you to vote for this piece if you don't find it compelling, but I'm almost certain that something about it IS. On its own merits, the production is phenomenal, the writing is realistic and the scenario is ALL too familiar to me and many of you.

But I want to ask you consider giving this piece the 2 mins worth of viewing.

If you like it give it 5 stars.

If you think this is a story worth being told, PLEASE repost this note, tag anyone you think might be touched by it.

If not on facebook on your blog, on craigslist, downelink, myspace, any and everywhere.

Below you can find a thoughtful message I was forwarded, that the filmmaker wrote to a professor seeking support as well.



My name is Dee Rees, and I’m a 2008 Sundance Directing lab fellow. I’m writing/directing a coming-of-age film about a black, lesbian teenager called PARIAH. PARIAH seeks to personalize the struggles of gay/lesbian youth of color in such a way that evokes empathy, opens doors to communication, and promotes dialogue within families. The short film of the same title screened at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and has won numerous festival awards both domestically and abroad.

I’m reaching out to you because PARIAH is a semi-finalist in the Netflix FIND Your Voice Competition, but it’s a very close race and I could really use your organization’s support in order to raise awareness for the project. PARIAH is the only African-American, gay project in the running and we really need voices across all communities to show the film industry that we want to see this story and more stories like this represented onscreen.

We were hoping that you could please support us by announcing the news in your Women’s/Gender Studies departmental communications; forwarding this message to your student listserv; and by encouraging your peers to visit www.netflixfindyourvoice.com to vote for our trailer .

Only the top 5 projects in this round move on, and we’re currently in 6th place and hanging on by a thread... Our goal is to get 10,000 stars, so any support you could lend us in getting this out to the broader academic community would be amazing.

Please find below a link to the film’s website where you can learn more about myself and the project’s history.

Thanks so much for your support— I believe that this film is a very important story that needs to be told and would be extremely grateful for any help you could lend!


Writer/Director “PARIAH”



  1. I've never seen this film before but,I am definitely going to check it out.

  2. looks like a great story...hope it wins...it needs to be told especially from a Black perspective...

  3. The trailer alone provides layers of understanding about how gender and sexuality are constructed within the heterosexual and GLBT community. The woman in the film is caught up in the web of both worlds constructing her identity (for her). Well worth a watch.

    Love Emoni Fela. Her track adds depth to what the woman in the film is experiencing.

  4. Hello,

    My name is Jasmine Garsd i'm contacting you from National Public Radio. Even though it's already happened, we'd love to talk to you regarding the Butch Voices conference that happened last weekend, what it was like, what came of it, what you'd like for the future.

    However, we'd like to tape this as soon as possible, hopefully this afternoon-- so please do contact me as soon as you get a chance!

    Jasmine--- jgarsd@npr.org


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