The New Black is a documentary that tells the story of how the African-American community is grappling with the gay rights issue in light of the recent gay marriage movement and the fight over civil rights. The film documents activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage and examines homophobia in the black community’s institutional pillar—the black church and reveals the Christian right wing’s strategy of exploiting this phenomenon in order to pursue an anti-gay political agenda.The New Black 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.
Summary info for schedule – will be hidden on film page
The New Black
The New Black
I began conceiving of The New Black in November of 2008. It was the night of the presidential election and I was in San Francisco. 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 samesex 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. I hope that the film will contribute to the important conversation about race, sexuality and political rights and the intersection of the three. And that it will reach diverse audiences within heterogeneous contexts and communities—from the black, to the gay, to the faith community and the general public as well.