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Volume VIII Number 10 . . . . January 18, 2002
While a rose by any other name may still be a rose, as is pointed out in In Other Words, another video in the "Celebrating Diversity: Resources for Responding to Homophobia" series, names do more than objectively identify. Names have the power to cause hurt in many forms including self- loathing. By and large, the video's creators have allowed a number of gay, lesbian, transgendered and two-spirited youth from Vancouver, Toronto and Saskatoon, to speak for themselves about what it is/was like to grow up knowing that they did not fit into or meet the larger society's expectations regarding "appropriate" sex roles. At its core, In Other Words has the transformation of schools into a safe environment for all adolescents as its fundamental purpose. Of course, a 27 minute long videotape cannot, by itself, overcome the homophobia that presently exists in too many of our nation's schools, but the video's contents can provide an initial stimulus for change. In particular, the video has two "positives" going for it. To begin with, by defining terms like faggot, gay, lesbian, transgendered and two-spirited, sometimes in their historical context, the video starts the process of demystifying these terms which are so often employed by some adolescents as a form of hurtful "profanity." And more importantly, the video puts real faces and life experiences before those who would possibly use/have used homophobic language. Those adolescents who have been chosen to speak represent a variety of races and experiences, but all speak candidly of the emotional pain they experienced while in school and the inner peace and joy they have finally found. Aiming perhaps more at the adolescent audience's emotions, rather than their intellect, In Other Words utilizes the quick pace of a music video with its fast, back and forth cuts. Unfortunately, some aspects, such as TEACH (Teens Educating And Confronting Homophobia) and Triangle, a school for those not succeeding (perhaps "surviving" would be a better word) in "straight" schools, pass by almost too quickly.
While In Other Words does provide a powerful emotional statement and makes fine individual viewing or the impetus for a staff PD discussion starter, it falls short as a classroom resource because it does not provide sufficient support for the "What now?" question that should follow the viewing. Although the video case liner notes do offer some "Post-video Activities," which could be used with small or classroom sized groups, the video has too briefly introduced a number of very complex issues, and most teachers will likely lack the depth of knowledge, experience and confidence to deal with them adequately.
Recommended with reservations.
Dave Jenkinson is a teacher educator in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.