by Hannah Saunders -
SGN Contributing Writer
On Friday, March 26, Little Grey Cat and Blanket Fort Films released Ignorant Creatures, a short film about a nonbinary person who struggles with coming out at work. The film dives into how members of the LGBTQIA community cope with coming out, and the importance of allies.
Ignorant Creatures was produced by Claire Michelle, Catalina Rodriguez, and Ji Iadevaia, the last of whom was also a scriptwriter for this project and was inspired by their firsthand experiences at a previous job.
The opening scene begins with soft music playing while Jules wakes up and gets out of bed. They walk over to the dresser and begin to put on a tank top. Jules, whose breasts are visible, lightly struggles to pull the tank top over them. They go over to the mirror and think, "People don't see my gender. Do they even see me? Ugh, I can still see my boobs through this thing anyway. What's the point?"
Jules shakes their head in frustration. Their partner enters the scene by gently placing their hand on Jules's shoulder. They are also getting dressed, and since they are late for work, they head out the door. Before the two part ways, they plan a date night for later that evening.
During these introductory scenes, the main character's struggle with their identity is apparent, and the partner is clearly portrayed as kind and loving.
In the following scene, Jules comes home from work and hopps in the bath. Their partner arrives home and joins shortly thereafter. While talking about their day, Jules mentions an issue with their coworkers.
The film cuts to Jules and coworker Mark walking into the break room earlier that day, whereupon Stephanie, who's already there, looks at Jules and says, "So, I hear you are nonbinary," with an exaggerated stress on the last word. She tries to laugh it off, saying, "Sorry, just want to be in the know," but she looks pretty uncomfortable. Jules does too, seeing as it's a very personal topic of discussion to bring up first thing in the morning, in the workplace no less.
Stephanie then says in an upbeat tone, "Cool, um, well, uh, let me know if I mess up, okay?" Though she was smiling and nodding and seeming like she was trying to be friendly, it comes off as rather invasive.
Next, Mark asks Jules about pronoun usage, to which Jules responds that they go by "they/them" only. Mark says, "I think I know what that means. I'm still learning, so I may mess up." One can see that Mark is attempting to be a supportive friend, yet at the same time Jules appears to be tired from all the questions. Shortly after, Stephanie walks by and says, "Hey, girl!" (something she's known for saying) and then quickly apologizes.
Back in the bathtub, Jules contemplates taking a sick day, most likely to avoid dealing with all the questions and being ostracized. Jules's partner is an active listener and gives brief feedback, but Jules says there's more to the story.
Flashing back to the workplace, the boss, Cooper, has brought everyone together for a group meeting, the purpose of which is awareness and respect for people in the office. She then goes on to say, "Jules has a few words to say about being non... What was it? Uhmmm... Why don't you just take it from here, Jules?" A confused and offended-looking Jules eventually responds, "What?"
A male coworker looks up from his computer: "Ah, this is that trend that's going around, yeah, in the millennial crowd," in a disgusted tone. The meeting room erupts in a clamor, and the camera closes in on Jules as they think, "Where do I fit in when I come out as nonbinary?"
Informative leaflets about what nonbinary means are passed out among the group. Cooper attempts to create more discussion, but the information is not presented or explained in a satisfactory manner. For example, Cooper starts out by saying, "Apparently, some people like to go by 'they/them' pronouns." She tries to make Jules feel included, but the way she presents the information comes off as ignorant. More noise fills the room, including questions such as "Where do you go to the bathroom?"
Jules finally has enough. They bring up how they did not call this meeting in the first place, then Jules walks out.
It's discovered that the meeting occurred because Mark mentioned the topic to Cooper. His intentions were to make Jules feel more included, and he sincerely wanted the meeting to go well. Mark and Stephanie find Jules after the meeting to explain themselves and apologize. Jules accepts the apology, but, back in the bathtub, Jules is still very upset.
Jules mentions to their partner that "I'm supposed to be the captain of my own ship," rather than having others control what happens to them by making decisions for them, like having that staff meeting, which was never something Jules asked for, or even aware of. Jules goes on to say that "it just feels like I live two lives. I'm not sure how to blend them together."
The movie ends with Jules gaining acceptance. "I am a beautiful process," they say, as the two soak the leaflets in the bathwater to get rid of them and make their own rules.
Ignorant Creatures is an astounding 16-minute film about the struggles nonbinary individuals face when coming out in the workplace, while tackling the importance of being a strong ally without being too overbearing and overwhelming.
The release of the short film was halted due to the pandemic due to lack of in-person screening opportunities. Claire Michelle made the decision to release the film on Little Grey Cat's YouTube channel after scouting multiple venues. Watch the film at www.youtube.com/watch?v=0f_OEVxmr4s.