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Film Festival

The Ambassadors

By 14th May 2020No Comments

The programme The Ambassadors challenges heteronormative gender categories and heterosexuality as the social standard and explores a shift towards diversity as the norm.

Shea Diamond, the first ambassador, is a US-American singer, songwriter and transgender rights activist. Raised in Tennessee, she ran away from home, committed a crime, which got her a ten years sentence in a men’s prison. There she discovered her own trans identity and began writing I Am Her as a statement to the world and a message on behalf of anyone who has ever felt shunned for being who they are. Vela de Muxes is danced by the Muxes of Juchitan, in Oaxaca, Mexico, an area known for its powerful women (and whose dresses were among painter Frida Kahlo’s favourites.) The Muxes, the so called third gender, are accepted and integrated in the Zapotec culture here, while elsewhere the Spanish and Christian influence brought marginalization and discrimination. According to statistics three quarters of all murders of trans people take place in South and Central America.

Conchita, her stage name, was Austria’s winning representative for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014 making her a symbol for gender and sexual diversity. A modern, pan-Indian term used widely but not comprehensively by Indigenous North Americans to describe the third gender is Two-Spirit people. Their traditional ceremonial role survived centuries of colonial injustices and repression as reflected in Sean Synder and Adrian Matthias Stevens’ dance performance at the San Manuel Powwow. The Indian transgender rights activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi is part of a number of organisations that promote the welfare of sexual minorities. Traditionally (before  India became a British colony) hijras were thought of as religiously divine. While they are still called upon to bless weddings or name children they are simultaneously pushed to the fringes by other social pressures with all the negative consequences that entails.  The programme ends with a quote from a performance by Colombian Red Comunitaria Trans: ‘Female and male – a form of control, female and male – a form of oppression, female and male – a form of violence – disputed territory…’

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