black./womyn.:conversations with lesbians of African descent

with 15 comments

black./womyn.:conversations… is a feature-length documentary focusing on the lives and views of lesbians of African descent from various backgrounds. The documentary is structured by interviews-“conversations”-the director had with each of the women. It features candid interviews with black lesbian women discussing coming out, sexuality and religion, love and relationships, marriage, patriarchy, visibility in media, discrimination and homophobia, activism, gender identity, Black lesbian youth and elders, balancing gender/race/sexuality, and, finally, what it means to call oneself a Black lesbian today. black./womyn.:conversations… is a piece that provokes honest, progressive dialogue and critical thinking among people in general-and  Black lesbians in particular-about  how Black lesbians are viewed and affected by society. black./womyn.:conversations… features interviews with close to 50 out, Black lesbians including Poet/Author Cheryl Clarke, Filmmaker/Activist Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Poet/Author Staceyann Chin, Filmmaker Michelle Parkerson, Artist Hanifah Walidah, Hip-Hop Duo KIN, and Author Fiona Zedde.

This film encourages progressive dialogue about images of Black lesbians and the stereotypes resulting from their portrayal in media and society at large. The director hopes to create conversation among Black lesbians of differing ages, backgrounds about the lack of communication among these groups and how this affects the overall unity of Black lesbians as a group.

black./womyn.:conversations…also facilitates social change by presenting a well-rounded view of Black lesbian women. The women in the film vary in age, gender identities/expressions, and professions. Thus, the project impacts black lesbian women nationally and internationally, especially in remote areas where visibility is minimal. The film also impacts non-LGBTQ communities by deconstructing monolithic understandings of Black lesbians in the media and society as a whole. The film portrays black lesbians at all levels and stages discussing their lives as they relate to relevant topics.


black./womyn.:conversations… came as a result of the personal experiences faced by its Director/Producer tiona.m. and the complex issues she faced growing up as a Black lesbian. Every topic discussed in the film comes from a personal experience in the director’s life. The film was conceived in 2001 and the first “official” interview was conducted in late 2002. With the encouragement of mentor Larry Steele and friends, tiona.m. fully realized the potential for progressive dialogued by the topics she chose and pushed forward with the project as a feature-length film, despite of a lack of production funds. She began investing her own money into the production.

In 2007 she was awarded a Leeway Art & Change $2500 grant to assist with the completion of black./womyn.:conversations…


Written by tionam

December 16, 2008 at 5:45 am

15 Responses

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  1. The production of black./womyn.:conversations…has been a personal journey that has been well worth the years it has taken to bring to light. I hope that this film will provide a way for Black lesbians like me to see each other and be affirmed in our existence as a powerful and strong social force with important opinions. My life and work has and will continue to involve the influence of my race, my gender, and my sexuality and how to successfully fuse all three together in ways that support each equally. This film is dedicated to all of the young Black lesbians who grew up in small towns and never thought that living their lives as out Black lesbians was possible. With this, you can now see that it is a possibility. I hope that progressive conversations will come out of this project to encourage growth within our community and communities that would like to know our stories. We as black lesbians have something to say, and if given the opportunity can and will say it LOUDLY.

    As someone who works in the film/video production industry, I promised myself to make the reality of Black lesbians visible before I moved onto different genres of filmmaking dealing specifically with the image of black lesbians. I also would have liked to have had a film like this when I came out to expose me and my family to the various Black lesbians who live out and proud in their lives. I hope those who come behind me are aided by their access to this film.



    December 16, 2008 at 5:49 am

  2. congratulations! kudos for taking this huge and important task up


    December 16, 2008 at 9:57 am

  3. i would like to see the movie and support your effort in promoting it.. lets talk.


    my site right now is still underconstruction…but what i do have is a social network up right now… please check it out.

    michelle mitchell

    January 5, 2009 at 8:49 pm

  4. I’ve seen clips of the film and I would love to share it with my university. Is there a way I can bring the film to my school?


    February 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm

  5. I am very interested in potentially booking this film. Who can I talk to about this and getting a screener.

    Thanks so much.


    March 5, 2009 at 6:07 pm

  6. What needs to happen to bring it to Little Rock, AR?

    Diedra J. Levi

    March 13, 2009 at 11:06 pm

  7. […] I thought it was amazing. Now if only I could see black./womyn.:conversations sometime […]

  8. This film changed my life. I saw it for the first time awhile ago when I was in the process of coming out to the world, and it gave voice to the rumblings of my spirit’s un-articulated, muffled truths. All of a sudden, everything clicked. (Yes! Lesbian is my POLITICS!) Haha..

    I had been struggling with the word ‘lesbian’ for some time and, after watching this film, it was as if I was enabled to make peace with myself around it.

    I love it. Can’t wait to buy it on DVD.

    I feel like this comment may be a bit personal, but, hey, I’m premenstrual.



    September 22, 2009 at 8:16 am

  9. Is this docu available on DVD anywhere?

    Big Bad Butch

    October 17, 2009 at 2:00 pm

  10. looks interesting

    Pride Youngstown

    October 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm

  11. I am currently working on programming for both Black History Month 2010 & Month Celebrating Women 2010 for a state liberal arts college in Western MA. I was wondering if you could send me the details of what it would take to get you and the film to my college.

    Ron'na J'Q Lytle

    December 7, 2009 at 10:00 pm

  12. tiona~ great to meet you today and hear about what you are working on. if you have a mailing list, please keep me posted. i would love to see this film!
    janeen (mark’s roommate!)


    May 3, 2010 at 1:36 am

  13. Tiona,

    It was nice meeting you at the USSF screening. I walked away thinking harder about how we embody patriarchy. I don’t think we talk about that enough, if at all. We rely heavily on how we’re constructed to create community, and relationships become exclusionary.

    Good luck with your upcoming projects.


    June 30, 2010 at 1:14 am

  14. Tiona,

    My girlfriend and I watched black.womyn. yesterday and we were inspired. Thank you for making this film. I had been following the youtube clips for a few years, and was excited to see your interview on black gay gossip’s site. We promptly ordered the dvd. Our community lacks imagery that represents us and you are helping to fill that void. Black.womyn. gives us visibility and voice. We cannot wait to see your upcoming films!


    August 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm

  15. I hope you come to the Boston GLBT Film Festival in May 2011.

    R.A. Sweet

    January 19, 2011 at 1:39 am

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