Youth Blog – Five Movies that are Black, Gay, and Slay
Written by LaDarius DuPree, B.A., program coordinator
Representation is everything; we as human beings have come to rely on the sounds, images, and stories that shape our society as a means of support as we determine the type of individual that we want to become. When I was younger, I know for a fact that I looked to celebrities and fictional characters from books to try and figure out who I wanted to be; I swore up and down that I’d be just as beautiful as Angelina Jolie in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), and just as strong (and crazy) as Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman.
But the issue with that is, I wasn’t White. Nor was I a woman. One of the biggest frustrations about growing up Black, gay, and a man was that I never had any celebrities or fictional characters that I could look to and say, “That’s what I want to be like when I grow up.” So, in homage to Black History Month, here’s a list of movies that center gay, Black men that I highly recommend to watch on your own, or with your family. These movies have helped me understand myself in ways that the characters portrayed by Angelina and Michelle never could, and I truly hope that this list helps.
1. Paris Is Burning (1990)
The necessity of this documentary cannot be understated. While it wasn’t the first one from this list that I saw, it’s arguably the most influential. There are so many different aspects of this film that are invaluable to gay, Black men, but I found the most helpful aspect to be the interviews with the Queer youth and the sincerity behind their answers. To see Black men talk on film about their struggles with homophobic parents, the economic pressures of being gay, and how they found solace in a community that existed on the fringes of gay culture was so empowering, and this (if anything) is a must see. For those that are seeking representation of gender non-conformity and a quick glimpse of transgender identity via Blackness, there are a plethora of individuals in this documentary that may be helpful.
2. Holiday Heart (2000)
So if you’re Black and grew up around other Black folk, then you may remember this film as the butt of a lot of jokes when it was out or as ammo for insults against boys suspected to be gay. It never made it to theaters, but what I loved most about this movie is that it deviated away from the myth that feminine, Black men are physically weak and without family values. I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say the main character held his own and could be held as a role model by guardians everywhere.
3. Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom (2008)
One of the more “fun,” movies on this list, Jumping the Broom was iconic in that it highlighted the strong bond held by four, gay, Black men who are friends and (if you think about it) we rarely get to see gay, Black men just be friends in the media. If there’s more than one gay, Black man: they’re usually shown to be in competition with each other, sexual conquests, mortal enemies, or just extras in the background. While the TV show that this movie is derived from may not be the most appropriate for youth to watch on their own (but I still recommend it for youth), all gay, Black men need to see this as a testament to the good that can come from gay, Black men friend groups and this needs to be said several times over.
4. Blackbird (2014)
If you have even a shred of empathy in you, then there’s no way that you’ll be able to make it through this movie without crying. Exploring the life of a gay, Black teen in the South as he struggles to emotionally support his mom, understand his sexuality, and remain true to his religion – I envision many in our community being able to relate to the main character as it’s not a far stretch to say that religion often creates a barrier in the freedom of sexuality.
5. Moonlight (2016)
With its widespread critical acclaim, many of you have probably already heard of Moonlight and its beautiful exploration of Black masculinity as it intersects with sexuality. At the time of this blog being written, it’s still in theaters, and I recommend catching it before you have to wait for its DVD/BluRay release. More than anything, this movie showcases some of the lifetime struggles that come with growing up gay in predominately Black communities, and there are many takeaways for those with similar identities seeking guidance.
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