Feb 28

“The New Black”: Gay Civil Rights and Marriage Equality

“Let’s be clear: this is the unfinished business of black people being free.” Sharon Lettman-Hicks, The New Black

What’s the truth about the black community’s stand on gay issues?

Directed by Yoruba RichenThe New Black is a documentary about gay civil rights and the African-American community, a community in which the church plays a strong role. States the website about this film: “…takes viewers into the pews and onto the streets and provides a seat at the kitchen table as it tells the story of the historic fight to win marriage equality in Maryland and charts the evolution of this divisive issue within the black community.”

Glenn Kenny, Rogerebert.com, sets up the film’s beginning: “This movie opens with a montage featuring a selection of African-Americans getting ready to leave their homes for the day. Radio and television audio feeds on the soundtrack place the time as Election Day, 2012. One hears President Obama’s voice, and Mitt Romney’s. The ordinary images connote ‘ordinary people’ while the urgently edited soundbites say ‘extraordinary times,’ maybe. As a few interviewees soon make clear, it’s also the place that’s important: Maryland. It was in this state, one-third of whose residents are African-American, that a state referendum on same-sex marriage was proposed and, on that election day, passed.”

Ernest Hardy, Village Voice, summarizes what follows:

What emerges is an illuminating look at the ways race, specifically blackness, has been cynically portrayed by the mainstream media, rightwing politicians and religious leaders, and even some white queer activists.

Richen points out that the Mormon and Catholic churches were the real forces behind the push to thwart gay marriage — neither of those institutions having black powerbrokers in them. They’re the ones who have spent political capital to put anti-gay initiatives on ballots, have conceived and executed controversial anti-gay-marriage campaigns, have spent countless millions to secure their bigoted goals, and have flocked to polling booths to vote against gay marriage.

Watch the trailer below:

SELECTED REVIEWS

Glenn KennyRogerebert.com: “‘…an informative, measured, and never-not-engaging documentary about the emergence of LGBT consciousness in African-American communities across the U.S., and particularly communities with a strong church presence.”

Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter:

…offers insights into human nature and the notion of minority — and the truth that those long trampled upon do not necessarily rush to lift up others who are persecuted. Particularly penetrating are comments that point to the legacy of slavery: Facing the terrible reality of families torn apart, African Americans have long understood the importance of adapting with nonconformist family configurations, conventional church teachings notwithstanding.

Through formal interviews and fly-on-the-wall observation, Richen’s film delivers a valuable contribution to an ongoing national dialogue. It reveals gradations of LGBT acceptance within black American families and neighborhoods, conversations that don’t make the front page.

Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times, states, “[Richen]…balances crude filmmaking with sophisticated insights.” Moreover, “Despite a seeming bias toward marriage equality, she appears to be motivated by a sincere curiosity that’s as empathetic to the concerns of religious leaders as to the pain of a young black lesbian who’s finally coming out to her beloved foster mother.”

Feb 18

“Same Love”: Gay Equality Song

Some Lyrics from “Same Love”

When kids are walking ‘round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start 

Although Presidents Day isn’t about Obama, we can still celebrate finally having a national leader who stands up for gay equality, including the ability to get married if you so choose.

The short film available below is set to the song “Same Love” written by gay ally Ben Haggerty (stage name Macklemore) to support marriage equality in the state of Washington.

It’s performed by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and features vocals by Mary Lambert. Since its release last year the song and video have gained popularity among many who identify with its themes, which include:

    • growing up gay but confused
    • dealing with stereotypes and homophobia
    • coming out
    • the struggle for acceptance
    • anti-gay hostility
    • getting married
    • growing old with a partner

 

The Lyrics in Full (AZLyrics.com)

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She’s like “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-k, trippin’.”
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, “Yeah, I’m good at little league.”
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And “God loves all his children” is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don’t know

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom ’til we’re equal, damn right I support it

(I don’t know)

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

We press play, don’t press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
‘Til the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking ’round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up… sex

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
Love is kind