El and Jay are a non-monogamous couple, seeking connection with others both separately and together. Non-monogamy can take many forms, in that of polyamory; hierarchical polyamory; non-hierarchical polyamory, solo polyamory, polyfidelity, monogamish; swinging; and open marriage/relationship. Essentially, non-monogamy can be experienced in many different forms, depending on the needs and boundaries of the partners or people involved. Misconceptions around non-monogamy often circle around the idea of cheating, lack of respect for and/or commitment to your partner(s), and having a lot of promiscuous sex. However, when practiced healthily, non-monogamy breaks free of the notion that one partner can give you everything you need, and instead encourages exploration, connection, fulfilment and pleasure. As Tara Struyk states in Glamour, “polyamory isn’t one-size-fits-all. Or maybe it’s that love isn’t one-size-fits-all, and we can each choose to do it a little differently, in whatever way fits.”
I wanted to animate a lesbian partnership in this particular example of non-monogamy, as when I was trying to think of characters it annoyed me that my default thought was of a man and a woman. This instantly made me remember scrolling through tinder, with couples popping up on my feed looking for a ‘unicorn’ to experiment with, and I didn’t want to use these characters for that particular genre of sexual activity. When talking about non-monogamy, LGBTQIA+ non-monogamy is often erased “to counter the notion that queer people were obsessed with sex and debauchery, the community put forward carefully constructed images showing how queer people could be assimilated into straight society. Polyamory had to be deleted from the community to win approval. People still assume that having multiple partners means being amoral.” I wanted to counteract this notion through the characters of El and Jay, creating a calm and happy, non-sexual environment of two people willingly entering into non-monogamy and feeling comfortable, reading The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions, and falling asleep in each others arms. In a poetic article by Sara Youngblood Gregory for Salty, they write “Non-monogamy is nothing to do with sex. It is everything to do with talking, long, long talks and learning how to communicate again and again and again.” I hope El + Jay’s characters offer a fresher look at how non-monogamy can look.– Issy Stephens, Director
SOUND COLLABORATOR STATEMENT
Having a deep appreciation for electronic dance music and its origins, the first thing that stuck out from these characters was the t-shirt which reads “House music in schools now!”. House music and club culture in general originates from people within the LGBTQ+ community finding a way to escape the systemic oppression and pressures of the heteronormative society in which they lived and allowed them to be themselves. I wanted to translate that message into the scene. As house music is quite energetic and they are falling asleep on the sofa, I wanted it to sound like they were outside a club and all you hear is the lows. This also translates to the world we currently live in, with all the clubs being shut due to the pandemic. My first step was to create a house sequence. I did this by utilizing different virtual instruments. The pads were done using Ableton’s operator synth and the bass was done using a plugin which emulates the Moog MG-1 Synthesizer; a synth which was prominent throughout the 80s and helped me create that classic house bass sound. The drums were made from 909 samples, which is the staple sound in electronic dance music history. After creating the track, I applied a low pass filter and added reverb to emulate the acoustics of standing outside a club.While my personal passion for electronic dance music lies with Techno, I have a deep appreciation for club culture and its origins. It was a new experience for me making a house track, but I feel my appreciation for the genre and its roots has widened thanks to this scene.Lewis Lenk, Sound Collaborator for El + Jay
- The Faggots & Their Friends Between Revolutions – a book by Larry Mitchell and illustrated by Ned Asta, originally published in 1977, 2019 edition.
Originally gifted to me by my amazing housemate, this book is one of the most beautiful reads, both for its story and its illustrations. Many queer people I know have read and loved this book, and that it why I chose to animate it into El + Jay’s segment of the film. The book tells the story of the faggots, the fairies, the queens, the butches, the dykes, the gays, their friends, and how they move together through a Man’s world, wearing all the colours you can imagine inside a sea of grey suits. It’s poetic and hopeful, timeless and fluid. I recommend this book as a form of solidarity, passing it from my queer self to you. Below is the full quote from the segment I included in the film.Issy Stephens
Whenever the faggots leave their small liberated areas to enter the spaces of the men, they cause scenes. They do not really mean to do this. But the men cannot resit looking, pointing, yelling, or pushing the faggots. Let two faggots kiss discreetly in the dark corner of a crowded restaurant and pandemonium will break out. Let two faggots begin to rub their bodies together rhythmically to some slow melody and hissing will begin. The faggots have accepted all that they know and see as the way things are and can no longer be shocked. The men live in the fantasy that everyone is like them and so are constantly shocked.Larry Mitchell
- No Modernism Without Lesbians – a book by Diana Souhami, 2020.
No Modernism Without Lesbians covers the story of how a singular group of Parisian women who loved women fostered the birth of the Modernist movement. If you want to be inspired by some of the most ‘influential, most entertaining, most shocking and most brilliant figures of the age,’ then this is a good book for you.Issy Stephens
Same-sex relationships have always been there, have always been diverse, complex and individual. It was always far past time for the world to recognise that truth. ‘You can’t censor human nature’, was Sylvia Beach’s view. It was always senseless to close the door on benign relationships of the heart, which will express themselves, however brutal, damaging and disheartening any penalties imposed.(pg. 8) Diana Souhami
- Is Polyamory For You? – A Red Table Talk, 2021.
In this 30 minute Talk Talk, Willow, Jada and Gammy discuss polyamory and what it is. Willow practices polyamory and Gammy is new to the conversation surrounding it, professing that she doesn’t know or understand much about it. As the talk progresses they invite in Gabrielle Smith, a polyamory educator talks about her solo polygamy, her boyfriend, her platonic soul mate, and their individual partners. She brings up topics such as ‘Kitchen Table Polyamory,’ meaning a family-like bond between all partners is encouraged between her own polyamorous relationships. They also have advice from a non monogamy relationship specialist on jealousy, working on yourself and the way you cope with all the emotions that come along with polyamory. By the end of the talk, after many guests and different perspectives have been vocalised, the table conclude that “It important that we understand that it’s not one or the other. This is just another option for people who have bandwidth and who want this kind of way of interacting in intimate relations.” What another person chooses to consensually do in their relationship with their partner/partners is their choice, and not for us to judge.Issy Stephens
Are you going to be the person to say just because I don’t have these needs, you can’t have them either?Willow
The face of polyamory is mostly white people and that’s not my realityGabrielle Smith
I really realise how much we use our relationships to bolster our own egos, which has nothing to do with love, nothing at all.Jada Pinkett Smith
It’s not important for me to be able to understand. It’s important that I am able to listen without judgement and let you do your thing, and if that means three people, if that means ten people, if that works for you that’s great. It doesn’t really have anything to do with me.Gammy
- Compersion Is The Word You’ve Been Missing Your Whole Life – A Mission Happy Thoughts – an article by Melanie Ginsburg on Medium, 2017.
This is a neat little article that expands on the word ‘compersion.’ Commonly used in the polyamory community, the word compersion means to feel happy and joyful for a person or people you care about when they are happy. Polyamorous individuals use it as a way to break down natural feelings of jealousy when their partner has spent time with another partner or person. Instead of feeling what we are socialised to feel: territorial, upset, or betrayed, polyamory encourages practising individuals to feel compersion for their partner instead, to feel joyful that their partner has had a good time, and feels happy and fulfilled. Melanie Ginsburg encourages us to take compersion further, whether polyamorous or not, and input the principle into our everyday, for example when a friend gets their dream job. If one person is happy and another person who cares about them feels compersion because of it, happiness and fulfilment spreads, and jealousy becomes void.Issy Stephens
Compersion cannot be found in the dictionary, but Wikipedia defines it as “an empathetic state of happiness and joy experienced when another individual experiences happiness and joy.Melanie Ginsburg
This word is used regularly by the polyamory community, but I see no reason why it should stop there.Melanie Ginsburg
COMMUNITY FOUND resources on the lesbian experience
- Hammer! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life – a book by Barbara Hammer, 2010.
Just a great set of essays on relationships, intimacy, sex, art and community. It floats between academic, philosophical and personal writing. I’d recommend it because Hammer writes about such a radical + unapologetic form of self-love and i think everyone should have the chance to feel that!Nella Gocał
Resource submitted by Nella Gocał
- Nitrate Kisses – a documentary film by Barbara Hammer, 1992.
I’d recommend it because its unapologetically lesbian, queer and erotic, and highlights forgotten and un-documented lesbian history.Nella Gocał
Resource submitted by Nella Gocał
- @mandicrimminsmusic – a Tiktok account
Mandi mostly posts “Gay Rewrites” of songs, but sometimes does more general content, often about The Lesbian Experience.Rowan Noble
Resource submitted by Rowan Noble