‘The New Black’ – Film Attempts To Highlight Struggles Between The Gay & Black Community

When it comes to the black church and same-sex marriage, the two become polar opposites for the black community. The division between equality continues to be a focus for change and congruent with the gay rights vs. civil rights movement debate.

The documentary “The New Black” attempts to highlight the struggle between both communities. Throughout the film there are features and segments from LGBTQ leaders, influential clergymen and even candid interviews within the black community (at the time) looking to vote. Focusing on the fight for marriage equality in the state of Maryland, the documentary captures the current state we are in awaiting the decision from the Supreme Court and public opinion of whatshould happen.

The director of the flim, Yoruba Richen, writes:

The months leading up to the election were intensely emotional for many Americans, especially African-Americans. The idea of a black president was something that we had routinely dismissed as something that would not happen in our lifetime. At the same time, marriage equality was on the ballot in California and as the night progressed  it became clear that the right for same-sex couples to marry which had recently  been granted by the California courts—was  going to be taken away. The euphoria that the city felt about Barack Obama’s election was countered by spontaneous protests and visible outrage at the loss of marriage equality. Almost immediately, it was reported that African-Americans voted for Proposition 8 by 70%. That these reports later proved false was not enough to counter the narrative that blacks were to blame for loss of marriage equality while gays had helped elect Obama. Many of us who were members of both communities watched horrified as latent resentments, outright racism and homophobia bubbled to the top of the national political scene.

For over three years I followed how this issue was being debated and understood in the African-American community. In the course of production, I realized that the issue  of gay rights in the black community is in  many ways a fight over the African-American family, which has been a contested space since the time of slavery. So marriage is not just about marriage for black people—it’s also about how blacks have become accepted as legitimate participants in American society.  The gay marriage question has forced a conversation in the black community, which is taking place in our churches, our houses  and our neighborhoods—and ultimately at the ballot box.

“The New Black” is set to be screened in California, Maryland and New York. Please check out the site for more details and current screenings. 

Mused Magazine

This post originally appeared on Mused Magazine. Republished with permission.

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  • Allie

    I’m not sure if this is the way it’s written or what but I feel like it’s saying being black and being queer are mutually exclusive, and I think think that’s B.S. as a bisexual black woman it would make more sense to me to make a movie and/or include people that belong in both the LGBTQ and black community. Maybe that was done but it doesn’t sound like it.

  • jay cee

    I find the whole comparison disgusting and offensive. There is nothing abnormal about being Black. Blacks are not an aberration of humanity. Being Black and being “queer” ((to use Allie’s word) ARE mutually exclusive. Being Black does not automatically make one “queer.” I totally r e s e n t being Black and homosexuality spoken of in the same sentence. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. From accounts that I have read and heard, Black homosexuals still experience disgusting racism and bigotry from other homosexuals. Why is that if they are all one?

    • kelly

      I agree I still remember the day after prop 8 when the gay people were out in the streets in west hollywood with rope talking about hagging N’s.. After that, I refuse to support them because they showed there true nature right there.

    • NOitAll

      Being Black and being queer are NOT mutually exclusive if you’re Black and queer. It’s like being Black and a woman. How do you compartmentalize aspects of yourself to suit the political label du jour?

    • Allie

      But there are people who are black and queer. I didn’t say all black people but there are some of us who are. To ignore that you would have to be in complete denial. Also I never said that blacks who belong to the LGBTQ don’t experience racism. Where in my comment did I say that? I know first hand what it’s like to experience racism in that community. So don’t twist my words to make your point and spew your hate.

  • i don’t have a problem with gay people at all….until they start calling themselves the new black

    • FemmeQ

      Please keep in mind that white gays are the one spewing this ish. There are communities of queer people of color (and a few queer white allies) that want absolutely nothing to do with mainstream gay issues and culture.

    • Allie

      Thank you for putting this out here!

  • Lynne

    This may be a bit off topic, but here’s my issue with the phrase “The New Black.”

    Chances are this depiction of the LGBTQi movement was coined by whites. It seems to me that many whites will co-opt anything to suit their needs. From diversity in schools, media, and the workplace (“White people are very diverse”) to politics (Tea Partiers equating their so-called struggle to the Civil Rights Movement) to cultural identifications (“Atheists are discriminated against — just like African-Americans were.”).

    When you look at the peculiar history of blacks in this country, a history that so many choose to gloss over, it’s insulting that so many groups MINDLESSLY use the situation as a way to further their own goals.

    Look at it this way: How often have blacks used other plights to further their own goals?

    The goals of LGBTQi activism are worthy on their own. I understand activists want to make a correlation to get others to see their point of view, but so often the message boils down to rhetoric, slogans, mantras, and clichés.

    • Lynne

      You’re right about the huge cultural influence and dollars of the LGBTQi community. I never meant to imply the community was noting but a slogan, but I argue that the depth of their alliances (or appropriation) is shallow.

      Consider this: Soon before the 2004 election, the marriage equality issue popped up — seemingly from out of nowhere. (While I’m sure it was an issue within the LGBTQi community, it was unheard of to most “mainstream” Americans.) Talk about bad timing. The momentum for a Democratic president subsided as the election became about the culture wars.

      I don’t blame solely marriage equality activism for the loss of the 2004 election, but so many other people have.

      Many called the marriage equality issue the “New Civil Rights Movement.” It would be nice if people knew more about what they were appropriating. If Americans were smarter and knew more about history, they’d see how deeply intelligent the original Civil Rights Movement actually was. The common belief is that the Negroes simply ran out into the streets demanding equal treatment one day. WRONG! Civil Rights leaders were MASTER strategists — from understanding how to use the new medium called “television,” to the selection of Rosa Parks as a symbol of tired and beleaguered blackness, when she was actually a smart activist.

      You hit the nail on the head about Obama, BTW.

    • Lynne

      Oops. I meant to say “nothing but a slogan.”

      Please forgive any other typos.

  • Apple

    Sick of this being compared. When we gona have a gay is the new Jew/Mexican/Arab ??? i’m not your damn measuring stick for struggle and even if i was , YOU MEASURED WRONG