Amos Lassen

We are all aware that sexuality and gender can be fluid and that we tend to label everyone and everything. However,  in a world obsessed with labels how do we identify? ”Between the Shades” director, Jill Salvino explores the complexities of labeling sexuality. We look at  power labels and our perceptions of each other and ourselves. Do they box us in or do they provide us with freedom?

Using a diverse cast of everyday people to express the importance of understanding preferences, we explore whether labels are liberating or damaging since we know that we are to accept each other for who we are, not what we are.

This is a very important film especially for anyone wanting to learn more about LGBTQIA, or simply trying to identify. These honest and heartfelt stories are sensitive and touching and betters our understanding of the struggles that many undergo. It forces us to question how we perceive ourselves and those around us. As with any other community there are many generalizations made about the LGBTQI community – and not just from the outside. And then there are the clichés and stereotypes that seem to go along with characterizations. Many of us have said these, too  and if we have not said them, we at least know them.

It’s something that seems to come from a human need to categorize things, to organize the world into recognizable patterns.  We have a tendency to assign labels to each other (and to ourselves) that superficially define who we are and make it easy to separate ourselves from those who wear a different label than our own.

Salvino undertakes an examination of the effect of labels – both negative and positive – and the way that they intersect among LGBTQI people. They strip away preconceived ideas about labels and the people behind them and we see the ways that labels can be as empowering as they are divisive.  This discussion serves as a way to get to a detailed portrait of the community itself and an exploration of the things that make the individuals within it who they are.

The film explores the various degrees of ‘gay‘ that exist in our society and brings up a conversation about the spectrum of LGBTQI and the strands of acceptance that characterize us all.  We see the faces and voices of a widely diverse cross-section of the community with participation of  young and old, male and female, white and people of color.  They are gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender (MTF and FTM), intersex, gender fluid, gender queer, and yes, even straight allies.  Some are coupled, some are searching for love and some are very proud singles.  Throughout the film and via a loose but logical progression of themes, they discuss a variety of topics such as how they identify, growing up and coming out, family, relationships, love.  What emerges eventually is a monologue that, in expressing the vast differences in experience between each of the speakers, tells a universal story of the things that make them the same.

The speakers are engaged, passionate, proud of who they are and the journeys they have made.  It is the honesty of their truth-telling and the director’s shaping of their narrative, that makes this such an interesting film.

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