words: Clara Neupert

photo: Ellen Mahaffy

This year’s Eau Queer Film Festival theme, becoming, resonates with me deeply. For future blogs, I feel context about where I’m at with my identity is necessary. Welcome to the most honest piece of autobiographical writing I’ve authored.  

I spent 20 years of my life believing I “have to be” straight. (Read: internalized homophobia) I pushed away whispers and combated them with stern scolding. As I walked through my small suburban high school, I felt myself fall rigidly into an identity: a straight-A student with a clear future. 

It wasn’t until my second year at UW-Eau Claire that queerness found me. I became friends with supportive, uplifting queer people. I developed a crush and couldn’t "convince” myself the feelings were false.  

And then, queer cinema inspired a turning point inside of me. I spent weekends watching the mediocre queer films offered on Netflix. The emotions and colors on screen illuminated something in me I had suppressed for years. Film is a powerful medium, and I found myself intoxicated. 

On runs, in the shower, walking to class: the whispers came more frequently, bubbling up inside until I knew I had to burst with self-acceptance.  

For a little over a month, I’ve been freshly queer/questioning. Beautiful souls deserve my beautiful love. I feel refreshingly reborn and liberated, but at the same time scared out of my wits.  

For the next few days, I’m based in the so-called heart of queerness: San Francisco. I plan to use my time at Frameline42 to absorb the honest essence of queer culture(s) at home in the Castro District.

Personally, I want to ensure the films brought from Frameline42 to Eau Queer portray queerness in as many forms as possible. I want an audience member to find pieces of themselves in the films — pieces that lead to self-discovery, no matter where they are in their life’s journey.  

Becoming is about so much more than gender and sexuality, and I believe queer cinema portrays this complexity … I am becoming an activist. I am becoming an adult. I am becoming a storyteller. I am becoming accepting. I am becoming me.