Though we often share or hear about the experience that persons of the LGBT community have had when coming out, one film seeks to focus on the other side of the experience: parents.
Joyene Nazatul Ismail has created a short film To Mum (Love, Me), which exhibits the emotional turbulence that one mom experiences after discovering that her daughter is gay. Furthermore, it explores the cultural experience of coming out in a conservative Asian household in which family and honor is held to the highest esteem.
Interesting enough, the film is bilingual — in Mandarin and English — so as to reach a larger audience but to also exhibit the wide barriers between mother and daughter.
“Even though they clearly understand each other, the refusal to speak to each other in the same language is jarring not just for them but also for the audience,” Ismail explains. It’s only at the end that the mother responds in English, a tiny indication that she is becoming more accepting of her daughter.
The film was inspired by Ismail’s own experience with coming out to her mother: “My inspiration behind the film came from my own experiences as well as my relationship with my mother after I came out to her. It has been tough and I still struggle with it to this day.”
And though the film may seem targeted at the LGBT community, Ismail’s intent behind the film was to help the loved ones and parents of children who come out:
“Some people may say it’s a cop out or a sell out, that I diluted it for my audience, but they don’t see that my target audience isn’t the LGBT community, but rather their parents or loved ones who are struggling with accepting their children.”
“I was targeting an older audience and I think it paid off – after it’s first screening at a friends and family screening in school, many parents I didn’t know came up to me to tell me that they were really touched by the film,” she says.
“Hell, even my own mother cried watching it. That to me, is my job well done.”
Check out the short video below: