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“The New Black” and the Global Gay Rights Fight

"The New Black" and the Global Gay Rights Fight

The American media likes to suggest that the gay marriage debate is just about over, and that civil rights for the LGBT community is basically a battle that has already been won. (The latest polls suggest that a slim majority of Americans, 51%, are in favor of gay marriage.) But tell that to black folks in many parts of America, or Africans in Uganda or Cameroon, and the reality is a far different and difficult story. In my Docutopia column this week, I examine several films that chronicle the experiences of gay and lesbian black Americans and African Americans, including “The New Black,” “deepsouth,” “Born this Way,” and “God Loves Uganda.”

The films reveal a fascinating and complex set of intersecting issues, dealing with race, religion and sexuality. Of all the films, I am most taken by “deepsouth,” which, as I wrote, is an “evocative exploration of gay black Americans and those who
genuinely want to help them.”

“Thanks to Joe Lindquist’s well-paced editing and Duy
Linh Tu’s mix of verité and elegiac cinematography—capturing the scorching sun,
marshes and lush greenery of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi—deepsouth transcends straight-forward advocacy to become an
affecting and resonant portrait of an AIDS crisis that hits closer to home than
the African-set God Loves Uganda
or Born This Way. When Hiers, in
a brief moment of pause from her tireless travel schedule, says, ‘I worry
about the South,’ you will, too.”

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