Rebel Dykes @ image+nation

image+nation, the online portion, ended yesterday, but here is one more review to help tide you over until next fall’s edition.

The documentary, directed by Sian A. Williams and Harri Shanahan, brings out into the light the punk-loving lesbian subculture in 1980s London. All here is rather eye opening as I had no knowledge of this community previously. This despite my degree in Women’s Studies and being a fervent feminist. Films like this are worth their weight in gold as they uncover unknown histories.

Rather personal stories are told by those being interviewed here. They are members of a tight-knit community living in South London during the 80s. These women, for many reasons not the least of which is their sexuality, lived on the fringes of society. Even in a cosmopolitan city like London, it was a dangerous time to be an out lesbian. Violence was everywhere. As such many of these young women were estranged from their families, poor, unemployed, drug addicts, victims of violence, and had to turn to sex work to feed themselves.

Being without homes, many turned to living in abandoned buildings in South London, These places were known as squats. Living together they became rather tight, like a family. They went to the same clubs, many wore leather jackets and fought against repression side by side.

The sensibilities of punk collided with then meshed with feminism during this era in London. The story of it is told by a few of the women who lived it. They talk about their lives, loves and protests. How they had to battle against laws like Section 28. It was voted in by the British Parliament (under Margaret Thatcher) in 1988. The series of laws made it illegal for any local authorities to promote homosexuality. This ridiculous series of laws was only repealed in 2003.

A mish-mash of animation, interviews and archival footage, this film reflects the guerilla style of the women it features. Meaning it is cool and edgy.

There is still plenty of divide between the Feminist movement and the LGBTQ+ community. Those behind this documentary hope that it will bring together the members of these groups regardless of age or political affiliation. Queers and dykes of all ages have suffered trauma. A film like this tries to educate people about the harm caused by homophobia and the human cost.

Bottom line, this is a film about community. How the people we choose to share our lives with are just as or even more important than our biological families.

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