The bar was locked up, but there were people inside — was it open? What was going on? Sabine LeBel and her partner, Alison Taylor, try to always visit a dyke bar when they travel, but the one in San José, Costa Rica was proving difficult.
“The bar was gated — it had an actual gate — and we couldn’t get in,” LeBel says. “Then we discovered you had to get buzzed in.” They also noticed a list of rules on the door. It detailed who was allowed in and how they ought to behave.
This experience on vacation in 2014 reminded them of Toronto in the 1990s. “Bars are more mixed now, so it’s probably different, but there were rules before,” she says. “Like if you were going to a dyke bar you had to be a woman, or a guy accompanied by women or a certain number of women. There was a lot more policing going on for safety reasons.”
They met in Toronto in the ’90s, so recalling these codes of behaviour led to thinking about all the codes and rituals queer people tend to employ when identifying other queers. And all of the butch swagger, fruitful glances and asymmetrical hairstyles that led to their first kiss.
They decided to create and star in a video depicting what it can take for two women to get to a kiss. When they learned the theme of this year’s In Your Pocket — an annual screening of short videos shot on smartphones and tablets — was “After Midnight,” they submitted a proposal. That is, after all, when intimate connections tend to happen.
In Your Pocket is affiliated with the 2015 Inside Out LGBT Film Festival. Called The Mathematics of a Lesbian Kiss, LeBel and Taylor’s piece will screen alongside works by such artists as David Benjamin Tomlinson, Humboldt Magnussen, JP Larocque and Jess Dobkin.
The Mathematics of a Lesbian Kiss is a non-linear video montage that bears some resemblance to their trip to Costa Rica. The structure leaves aspects of the plot open to interpretation, but there’s no mistaking the heat of the makeout scenes.