While the Supreme Court is set to rule on the constitutionality of DOMA and Proposition 8, and as NYC Pride Week is about to kick off on June 28, a new film by director Yoruba Richen explores LGBT rights and marriage equality within the black community, issues of homophobia within black churches, and the intersection of the black LGBT community and black groups of faith.
After premiering at the LA International Film Festival earlier this month, the documentary The New Black screened in New York City last night as part of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, and will show again tonight at the Film Society of Lincoln Center Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (for tickets, visit the Human Rights Watch Film Festival website).
Richen said she was inspired to make the film in November 2008, when Barack Obama was elected and the passage of Proposition 8 in California was blamed on the lack of support for LGBT rights within 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,” Richen said in a press statement. “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 film quietly penetrates such conversations, which unfold at the dinner table, from the pulpit and the pews and at energetic Equality Maryland volunteer meetings. The film is at times funny, touching, enraging and poignant, and when, at the end of the film, activists celebrate the passage of marriage equality in Maryland, you’ll want to cheer along with them.
To host a screening of the film, contact the producers of the film here.