Rent the musical. premiered in 1994, towards the ends of the AIDS crisis, and a group of friends that included represented struggling artists in queer interracial relationships during the AIDS crisis in New York City. One relationship I wanted to highlight was that of Angel, a black crossdresser (it was unclear if they were trans because in some scenes they presented as male and in others they presented as female) with a black gay man named Benjamin. One of them ended up dying from AIDS at the end of the movie. As someone who loves musical theatre and has known Rent since I was 13, I am just realizing how important it was in the representation of gay black men and AIDS activists.

In the song La Vie Boheme, they actually mention the Act Up Fight Aids campaign at 5:42 in this video

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3 responses »

  1. carlywinant says:

    Rent is such a great example of art activism to talk about this week. It broke barriers in so many ways dealing with gender, sexuality, race, wealth, ability, and illness. And I like that you singled out Angel because that character is so important and goes on such a deep emotional and physical journey that the audience gets to see. Rent is touring again in honor of its 20th anniversary if anyone wants the chance to see if for themselves! It will be playing in LA from January 24th-29th for a short run.

  2. palomapineda19 says:

    I am glad that you brought up Rent as I remember my parents introducing me to this revolutionary musical. Along with Rent, the film Crash and recently Moonlight has stuck with me in challenging racial biases and common narratives of people of color.

    Something we have also brought up in class is the lack of support and advocacy from the entertainment industry as well as our own government. As we watched in class, there are few musicals and films that portray the struggles of the AIDS outbreak, and I think reducing this stigma is one of the ways in which we can help bring to light the history of the outbreak.

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