The possibility of a zombie apocalypse poses no real threat, unless you Google it and find the many theories floating around about survival kits and escape plans. Then you might freak a little bit—taking swigs of whiskey in between asking your partner if she still has those D batteries for the flashlight in the shed. Of course there’s really no way to predict an end of times, but what I’m trying to say is that if we leave all those things we wanted to say to our partners until we’re sitting in a laundry room with a pack of zombies dragging around outside in the hallway, we’ll be pretty upset, so table your issues—now!
Kellee Terrell’s 10-minute short Goodnight My Love is also her film debut. It takes us into that exact scenario, where a black lesbian couple, Flavia Borges as Amy and Kristin Anderson as Cynthia, airs out the woes of their relationship under extremely terrifying circumstance. They could be eaten by zombies, and then, that fight last month about whose turn it was to do the dishes, or that giant ass shitstorm they dealt with two years ago that shattered their trust ever since, will never be talked about again. Bleak, I know. As a kid, Amy (Borges) played with Barbie dolls, having them kiss and tell each other they loved one another. Didn’t we all make believe like that? Her partner Cynthia knows Amy’s parents would have never accepted them, but that blessing that was never given is neither here nor there now, and sadly, it only illuminates the reality of guilt and fear that surface so often in our lives when we come out—but if we knew the end of times was near, would we still be unsupported, or would there be bigger issues to fry than our sexuality, or politics, or whether we can go to Christmas dinner without stares?
So, because Amy and Cynthia’s apartment building is now overrun, their friends have turned into zombies, and there seems to be no way out, they exchange what may very well be their final words to each other. Now is the time to make their apologies, bury the hatchet with past hurts, and forgive themselves, too—for all the ways they could have been better, to themselves, and to each other. Basically, it is the most lesbian of all lesbian moments, in life or death.
The reason all of this just works so perfectly is because it’s not a film about the lovely, dreamy beginning. Right? It’s mostly a film about how something ends. And I’m not even talking about those traditional, chronological relationship movies where a lesbian couple goes through the motions of meeting, getting to know each other, screwing it up, and then breaking up because everything became way too complex. This could be the end, end. The film is also a fresh twist on zombie/horror films in that the leads aren’t heroic men set out to save their group—these are two black lesbian women, which seems to accomplish something for the genre of film as a whole. In many mainstream horror films, characters in minority—by their race, religion, sexual preference, gender—are often pegged into a certain role, eliminated from the plot, made secondary.
If you watched The Walking Dead this season (which I happily recapped) you’ll know that a lezzie character was finally added into the mix, but until then, it seemed a post-apocalypse world was hiding away all our queer selves in some unknown location. “The story came from a place of loving The Walking Dead, but being upset that there were never any gay people on the show at the time. It’s like, did all the LGBT people die first when the zombies came? And if they did, what a damn problem that was. So, I wanted to combine my love for both zombies and wanting to fill in the visibility gaps of what it means to be queer and of color,” says Terrell. The inclusion of queer characters in our media is and should be a non-factor, where we normalize and stabilize our portraits of the onscreen lives we are showing to our audience. In Terrell’s short film, we’re able to peel back the layer of realness once more, the reality of what our towns, and our apartment buildings, and our laundry rooms look like, especially when flesh-eating creatures back from the dead have taken over the world.
Director Terrell was a journalist in New York City for seven years before she applied for her MFA in Film Directing at Columbia College of Chicago. While her film continues to reach new audiences, she is a reporter at BET, and a self-identified straight ally who makes it her mission to write about LGBT issues, racism, feminism, HIV/AIDS, and racial health disparities. Goodnight My Love was shot in two days at Terrell’s apartment building. The film has made its rounds at over 20 film fests, most recently playing at the Frameline38 LGBT Film Festival in San Francisco, the Black Alphabet Film Festival at the Center on Halsted in Chicago, New Zealand’s Out Takes: A Reel Queer Film Festival and the 8th Entzaubert Queer DIY Film Fest in Berlin, their European premiere.