Source: Moonlight, Huffington Post

As one blogger noted, Marlon Riggs was a pioneering figure in his ability to create an uproar agains the major news outlets covering the spread of HIV/AIDS. For too long there has been a mass silencing of the black and queer voice and Riggs disrupted this common theme. In addition to Dark and Lovely Too: Black Gay Men in Independent Film, I was drawn by the shocking themes of self-hatred to self-affirmation and the many ethnic notions that are portrayed by the mass media. At the heart of these struggles are ones of intersectionality, where we see contemporary struggles surrounding gender, sexuality, and race – and the lack of support or community surrounding the intersection of these issues for many young people.

This weekend I had the opportunity to see Moonlight and it was awe-inspiring in chronicling a young black man’s struggle with his identity and sexuality through three phases of his life. Perhaps one of the best portrayals of the innocence and common struggles that black male youth face, I think Moonlight was instrumental in finally having a black lead and bringing awareness to the queer black male community. It’s very easy to portray the preciousness of a white boy in films like Boyhood, but in a world riddled with negative words that paint black youth as violent, Moonlight sheds light to the need for acceptance. The film doesn’t portray the typical “white savior” role that we too often see in mass produced films, but challenges us to look hard at black masculinity and try to understand the inner battles Chiron faces. Instead of trying to create a universal story that we can all relate to, Moonlight instead focuses on broadening our understanding of the black gay community, something I think we all need to challenge ourselves to try and understand.

From Week 9: Art in Response


2 responses »

  1. I’m excited to see this movie for the same reasons you mention. Not only is it rare to find black leads in movies, but black queer leads are even less represented. Even when presented with an opportunity to have a POC lead, Hollywood fails to deliver. In 2015, there was a movie called Stonewall which was set during the Stonewall Riots, however, they made the lead to be a white man and failed to give attention to the efforts of Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Ray Castro.

  2. oliviaklugman says:

    I thought the connection you made to Boyhood was very interesting; although I enjoyed Boyhood I recognized how problematic it was that the embodiment of “boyhood” or “childhood” was a hegemonic white male and how the film was somewhat lazy in that it wasn’t necessary to consider any systems of oppression that held back the protagonist of boyhood, and it didn’t recognize his privilege either.
    I’m so excited to see Moonlight. A feature coming-of-age film with a protagonist who belongs to two different marginalized groups is so rare and important.

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