Film | Gay Rights | Proposition 8

New Documentary Explores Relationship Between Black And Gay Communities: Video


In her new documentary, The New Black, debuting later this month at AFI Docs Festival in Washington DC, Yoruba Richen explores the relationship between the gay civil rights movement and the African American community. Richen hopes to countermand the narrative that African Americans are more homophobic than other segments of society, a notion that took hold after the passage of Proposition 8.  She tells Politico:

"This [idea] was largely because of an incorrect exit poll that initially reported blacks voted for the measure by 70 percent. That these reports later proved false — and multiple researchers later showed it was around 58 percent — was not enough to counter the narrative...

“The reality is that the African American community and the black church is diverse and opinions on this issue have reflected that. There were some black public figures who took stances very early on in support of gay rights — look at Jesse Jackson’s rainbow coalition in the 80’s — while others spoke out against it. Also in terms of polling, African American support (like other groups) has varied depending how you phrase the question and the religiosity of the respondents.”

Richen also points out the similarities between the struggle for marriage equality that both gay Americans and African Americans have faced:

“[Like] the gay community, we also weren’t allowed to marry who we wanted to, build families or have the societal legitimacy that entails. We were also denied rights based on who we were and treated as second class citizens. And of course a lot of the arguments that you hear against marriage equality are similar to ones used to justify miscegenation laws.”

Check out the trailer for the film AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. This is also playing this Thursday evening at the Human Rights Film Festival in NYC. I already have my ticket.

    Posted by: Eric | Jun 17, 2013 9:56:29 AM

  2. Always keep in mind that in any battle, the opposition will seek to divide then conquer. The rhetoric that the African American community is somehow against gay rights is really coming from our oppostion, hence the oops we said 70% but it was really 58%. Your perspective on anything in America can shift just based on which news channel you watch and what causes they are affiliated with. Don't always trust what you hear.

    Posted by: Hey Darlin' | Jun 17, 2013 9:59:37 AM

  3. There were news channels and certain politicos that were CONVINCED this would be a Republican term in the presidency. It was really, simply, that they believed their own insanity.

    Posted by: Hey Darlin' | Jun 17, 2013 10:05:22 AM

  4. the reality of Whom Divides Whom is so clear to see, as long as you dont' have your Bigotry Goggles on.

    look at policitcs: Conservative politics - anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-anything-not-white

    so what do you get in that group? gays who hate women and non-whites. nonwhites who hate gays and women. women who hate non-whites and gays.

    basically, a bunch of pathetic fools sucking up to bigoted Straight White Rich Men, hoping that doing so will save their own asses.

    we're all in it together, and the sooner people throw away their learned prejudices about "minorities" the sooner a strong coalition for active change can begin again.

    i wanna see this doc. big time.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jun 17, 2013 10:21:41 AM

  5. But let's look at some other realities: Illinois. The marriage equality was BLOCKED by the Black Caucus, plain and simple. Not a single Republican had to speak up against Marriage Equality in that state because it was common knowledge that the Black Caucus in the democratic party would not help pass the measure. Sorry, but African American democrats are still a large part of the problem in our trusted circles.

    Posted by: Mike | Jun 17, 2013 10:51:11 AM

  6. more of a problem that White Republicans and White Gay Republicans Who Hate Blacks in Hopes That Their Families Will Hate Them A Little Less?

    no. not at all.

    its very easy for some gay men to pretend "it's a black problem" - simply an easier, and cowardly way, to blame the black communities for everything their own white families aren't doing.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jun 17, 2013 10:53:55 AM

  7. @HD - "The rhetoric that the African American community is somehow against gay rights is really coming from our oppostion, hence the oops we said 70%..."

    I wish that was true but it is not just "our opposition" that pushed and continues to push the Prop8 falsities. John Arvois (sp?) wrote a blog article less than a month ago and he quoted that same number (70%) and state that "others were trying to rewrite history" -- even after all the evidence to the contrary.

    But then again most of his themes when it comes to minorities are pretty clear. So it is not just coming from "our opposition".

    Posted by: Belthazar | Jun 17, 2013 10:54:57 AM

  8. "The New Black." Really, tho? Bad name. I know a lot of people who will probably be turned off from this documentary based on the name alone. Too bad.

    Posted by: redball | Jun 17, 2013 10:58:45 AM

  9. "its very easy for some gay men to pretend "it's a black problem" - simply an easier, and cowardly way, to blame the black communities for everything..."

    This ^^^

    Posted by: Belthazar | Jun 17, 2013 11:01:43 AM

  10. @ "The marriage equality was BLOCKED by the Black Caucus, plain and simple."

    From what I understand, Mike, a clear majority of the 20 Black state legislators were prepared to vote for marriage equality. Probably about the same percentage of White homosexuals who supported civil rights for Blacks 50 years ago.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jun 17, 2013 11:03:20 AM

  11. @ Mike,

    You're selective. You chose Illinois so you could state your problem with black people, but you are forgetting that Maryland passed gay marriage earlier this year.

    The population of Maryland is 30% black. The population of Illinois is 15% black. Trying to put it all on one race is being dishonest.

    Posted by: selrahC | Jun 17, 2013 11:05:21 AM

  12. When there is a serious movie/documentary about racism in the white gay community I'll pay attention. That is the last taboo subject that never gets addressed publicly.

    Posted by: Yawn | Jun 17, 2013 11:07:52 AM

  13. For some gays its easier to blame the "other" (Blacks, Latinos) than their own bigoted or indifferent family members.

    If you complain that (insert demographic group) doesn't support gay rights and you haven't you yourself personally reached out to people in those communities to try and change hearts and minds then you have no right to complain.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Jun 17, 2013 11:27:58 AM

  14. I'll agree that the idea that all black people are predominantly homophobic is a gross overstatement, but the idea that this is a new perception that arose specifically because of the media reports on Prop 8 is equally untrue. That perception, and the less-sweeping reality that underlies it, has been around FAR longer than that.

    It's unfair to link it to skin color when it really needs to be more firmly linked to conservative religion - even the Illinois story is more about the influence of vocal conservative black religious leaders and groups than it is about black people as voters - and in a lot of ways, it's the same story as it is on the Republican side, but their religious factions have their hooks far deeper into the Republican base than is true of the broader Democratic base.

    If the story is that the gay community needs to have far more dialogue with the black community, then it's an accurate one. If the story is that all black people are hostile to gay equality, it's not.

    Posted by: Lymis | Jun 17, 2013 11:34:15 AM

  15. I agree with Yawn. Film a documentary about the in-house problem with the racist white gays, and I'll be there.

    Posted by: CC | Jun 17, 2013 12:13:59 PM

  16. I'm not saying this to troll but this has to be cleared up, because it keeps being used to make a point and it's factually incorrect.

    Less than 50% of black voters in Maryland supported marriage equality. It was at I believe 46%, or 44%. Anyway, around 45 percent voted for it. The black vote was not what got marriage equality through in Maryland in terms of 50%+ percentage. So there's no basis in bringing up Maryland as an example of acceptance.

    Now that we have that out of the way.......Kiwi is right. Conservatives are trying to make it about race, and some gays have fallen for the trap that black people and the black community hates gay people. That's what leads to the racism some white gay men have, it's a reaction to what they consider is mass hostility against them.

    The truth is, there is homophobia issues in every community. It's not a them vs us situation, it's not singular. It's a pervasive social issue caused by many issues, and issues that are often different from community to community. There are some communities more homophobic than others, and some less. The goal needs to be to work with and in communities where homophobia is more of an issue and do your part to educate and raise awareness rather than complain.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Jun 17, 2013 12:39:20 PM

  17. People also need to stop making excuses for bad behavior and call things out for what they are when they are happening. You can't complain about other people turning things into an attack against you and your group when you do absolutely nothing to speak up when your group is denigrating us as a community. And that's across the board.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Jun 17, 2013 12:41:25 PM

  18. @ Francis #1,

    The point that you are making about Maryland has nothing to do with the point I was making about black populations in two states.

    Posted by: selrahC | Jun 17, 2013 1:08:16 PM

  19. @ Belthazar,

    I get your point. I tried to use the vague term "our opposition" and not get specific because I, like you, also think we have to watch others not necessarily deemed against us. My point was more of the fact that we need to watch our own backs, no matter who's after them. Also I was mainly trying to suggest we shouldn't take any media report as a solid truth any more, as sad as that seems.

    Posted by: Hey Darlin' | Jun 17, 2013 2:42:32 PM

  20. OK, selrahC, I didn't intend to call you out or anything of the sort, I just know that many have brought up Maryland passing marriage equality with a high black population within the state as proof of something that isn't actually factually correct. There are factors that have nothing to do with the black community in both states that led to equality in Maryland and inequality in Illinois. There are factors that DO involve black politicians and equality advocates that led to equality in MD and not Illinois. Simply put, one group alone does not change the game regarding an issue that cuts across party, social, gender, age, etc., lines.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Jun 17, 2013 2:48:07 PM

  21. Actually, Francis, considering the high numbers of Black voteres who are fundamentalist Christians (or come from that tradition) I'm impressed with that 45%. If Maryland's White population was 70% or 75% fundamendalist Christian I don't think you would get 45% of their votes for marriage equality.

    Let's have a vote in Alabama.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jun 17, 2013 2:57:30 PM

  22. Oh, Lord. "fundamenTalist" dumb dumb.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jun 17, 2013 3:59:51 PM

  23. The Black Caucus?

    The Downstate Democratic Caucus (mostly white but also with four blacks and one gay male) had so many no votes for marriage equality that all that had to be done was to pick off 2 or 3 from the black Caucus, even with the majority support that it had.

    and if we REALLY want to get down, the black population of Illinois is more supportive of marriage equality than the black population of Maryland.

    Hell Blacks in Illinois are more supportive of marriage equality than whites in Illinois.

    Latinos are more supportive of marriage equality than whites in Illinois.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Jun 17, 2013 4:13:51 PM

  24. Good point, Derrick (look at a state like, they're not Christians but certainly major fundies and one of the whitest states). 45% all things considering, is a decent number. I wouldn't personally call it impressive, but it's workable. With that being said, it's still less than 50% so work is needed. Religion is the buffer that's holding our community back from true, unconditional acceptance nationally throughout all communities and it's something that hasn't really been addressed the way it should be and needs to be.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Jun 17, 2013 4:18:32 PM

  25. So it's a fiction-based documentary? We call those liberal propaganda.

    Posted by: Kev C | Jun 17, 2013 4:44:40 PM

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