By Tia Williams
The Same Difference, an hour-long documentary about lesbians who discriminate against other lesbians and bisexual women, originated from conversations Nneka Onuorah, a 26-year-old associate producer for Black Entertainment Television (BET), had with friends.
“It’s almost like a gang,” Onuorah tells ELIXHER. “This is the criteria. This is what you have to do or you’re not a part of it, you’re not in it, or you’re not real. I thought that was ridiculous. Why do I have to look like you and you look like me for everything to be okay?”
Onuorah, a native of Queens, N.Y., has been working at BET for five years, where she started off working as an intern in BET President of Music Programming Stephen Hill’s office. Now, as an associate producer and coordinator of music specials for BET she has helped produce shows like “Black Girls Rock.” Prior to working at BET, Onuorah was a professional dancer proficient in jazz, contemporary and hip-hop.
She recalls when she was younger, people would either tell her, “you should cut off your hair, you should be more butch” or “you should dress more baggy,” and she never wanted to do those things. She was never the type to conform. Having witnessed “aggressives” or masculine-presenting women get jumped in her neighborhood because they weren’t tough enough and other forms of discrimination within the Black lesbian community, she wanted to start the conversation and shed some light on those issues.
Onuorah held a casting call and leaned on some of her friends to get the word out about what she was looking for. She wanted to talk to women in a stud-on-stud relationship, women who identify as a stud and are pregnant, and other stories of women who don’t fit the “norm.” She was looking for compelling stories.
From the trailer, you can spot a few familiar queer women of color featured in the documentary. Po Johnson from La La’s Full Court Life, Ariane Davis from Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta, AzMarie from America’s Next Top Model (and the cover girl for ELIXHER Magazine’s inaugural issue), Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from The Wire, and many others. In the clip, you can see Snoop walking in heels. Onuorah tells us that in the film Snoop talks about accepting femininity in order to further her acting to career and the backlash she has received within the lesbian community for wearing more “girly” clothes.
So far, the teaser has been well received. The LGBT community wants to see it because they are living this every day. Onuorah feels it will even do well with those outside of the community because of their curiosity and the film’s unique stories.
Her fundraising goal is $15,000 and the money raised will go to production costs for her to complete the film. Onuorah does not want to only get the major city perspectives that are always seen. She wants to talk to people in states like Utah, Arkansas, and Washington. When the project is completed, Onuorah plans to take the film on a full promo tour and stream it on different websites. She would like to take it on a Pride tour to raise awareness. But she also wants to make sure the message is heard by everyone, not just the lesbian community.
“It’s the same difference,” she says. “It’s not like we [lesbians] just face discrimination or we discriminate against each other and have stereotypes. This happens in the African American [heterosexual] community. From culture to culture, we’re doing this to each other. You can take the ‘lesbian’ out of the film and it will still be as powerful.”
You could. But why would you? The Same Difference is sure to spark a national dialogue around identity and the way we police one another. Give what you can to help make this important film happen. Donate here.
Tia N. Williams is the woman behind The Buddha In Me, an agency of artists, speakers, poets, and activists based in Atlanta. The Buddha In Me specializes in providing quality programs to educate, enlighten, and entertain. Tia recently received her M.Ed. from the University of Georgia in College Student Affairs Administration.