On October 23, HuffPost Live’s Ahmed Shihab-Eldin spoke with five gay men on what it means to be LGBT in the African-American community. The segment, which can be seen here, was inspired by the documentary “Dear Dad: Letters from Same Gender Loving Sons,” which explores the struggle of eight African-American gay men and their subsequent relationship with their fathers.
One of HuffPost Live’s guests was Chase Simmons, creator of “Dear Dad,” who told Shihab Eldin that his idea for the documentary came from a conversation with a friend in 2009, who was having difficulty with his parents, specifically his father. Simmons thought to himself that his friend should write his father a letter, which then “snowballed” into filming the project.
Two other guests on the segment were Kevin Nelson and Guy Anthony, both participants in the “Dear Dad” documentary who wrote letters to their fathers. Nelson spoke of his participation in the project and writing the letter to his father, saying, “it made me reflect on a lot of things” but that it “wasn’t from a place of anger.”
Anthony on the other hand “never had a relationship with [his]father.” However, writing to him allowed him the opportunity to “reconcile some of these feelings.”
The group also included writer and educator Yolo Akili, and diversity and pop culture journalist Deron Dalton.
Dalton mentioned that already being a minority and having that double consciousness, there was also the “hyper masculinity” and “the black church” to consider for men of color. He added that although he had not yet come out to his father, being friends on Facebook meant he was pretty certain his father knew.
Aliki spoke further of the confines of masculinity, especially within the African-American community saying, “masculinity in America is very rigid… and then when you’re particularly African-American there’s a way in which because of the history of slavery, the history of race in this country that that is even more rigid, and so when you… come out as a queer person there’s a way in which historically that has not been connected to black men.”
The segment shed light on an area of the LGBT community that is often not addressed, as African-American LGBT members struggle with a triad consciousness as well as often living in states without LGBT anti-discrimination laws and living at an economic disadvantage.
African-American LGBT communities are not necessarily receiving a significant amount of support. Simmons’s documentary could help highlight the social repercussions of these issues.
The very emotional and beautifully shot documentary “Dear Dad” tells eight unique stories from black same gender loving men and their pain, gratitude, disappointment and hopefulness to reconcile and revive relationships with their fathers.
The documentary can be viewed in its entirety here.