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.