Indiewire: Interview: Director Yoruba Richen Talks About the Intersectionality of Race and Sexuality in ‘The New Black’

February 6, 2014

There’s a really special scene in Yoruba Richen’s documentary The New Black, where heterosexual black LGBT activist/organizer Sharon Lettman-Hicks gets into a disagreement with a female family member about homosexuality at a get- together with her in-laws. The woman states that “God did not make lesbians,” while Sharon questions her. Earlier, in that same house, an older black aunt shares that when her granddaughter “came out,” she told her she would always love her no matter “which way she goes.”

It’s these kinds of sharp, varied interactions that make the film particularly resonant. Where mainstream media has aimed to present the black community as a monolith of homophobia and sinful preachers, Richen does the opposite, allowing for all sides to have a stake in the issue.

I talked with Richen over the phone about her motivations for making the film, the easy, yet problematic associations between blackness and homophobia, and what the film means to her on a personal level. The New Black opens for a limited theatrical run at the Film Forum in New York City, February 12th-18th. For more information, visit Film Forum’s site. The film will also screen at the Pan African Film Festival on February 7th and 15th in Los Angeles at Rave Cinemas.

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The New Black

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. Continue Reading

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