VQFF Review: Mama Rainbow

Both heartwarming and sobering at the same time, this pair of films looks at the challenges faced by Chinese GLBT people and the brave people who are slowly changing things.

Lala Road: In this short (10 min) film, several lesbian teens and young adults tell us about their difficulties coming out and dealing with their families (“lala” is slang for lesbian). They face intense pressure to get married and have babies, while their parents face shame (if people ever found out) and misconceptions about homosexuality. Many of these kids have only two options: get married or leave China. Living abroad they’ll be free to love who they wish to love, and let their parents keep on believing they have a straight child.

Mama Rainbow: these interviews with gay and lesbian kids and the awesome mothers who love and support them. They spoke very candidly about their previous doubts and misconceptions (it’s just a phase / it’s just a Western fad / it can be cured), the coming-out stories—from both sides—and their continuing work supporting Chinese PFLAG chapters and other local queer organisations. It’s beautiful, often sweetly funny, and will definitely give you warm fuzzies.

The films were followed by a Q&A with a couple members of PFLAG Vancouver. One of the questions asked was: where are the fathers? The situation’s actually pretty similar in Canada and the US, where fathers in PFLAG are rare. Mothers (I guess, in any culture) can handle and express emotions better, and tend to be more outspoken allies.

Also, interesting fact: PFLAG is in the process of opening a new chapter in Abbotsford. They pointed out that once that’s up and running they’ll probably be facing issues not too different from what we saw in Mama Rainbow: societal shame for everyone concerned, fighting against rigid traditions, and the difficulties of living openly gay out in the Fraser Valley, leading kids to just pack up and leave.