On “Moonlight”: in praise of blue black boys

I finally saw the movie “Moonlight” over the holidays. I am pleased that it was nominated for 8 Academy Awards. Adapted from the play “In Moonlight, Black Boys Look Blue,” the film is, among other things, a coming-out story of a young black man, set against the backdrop of the 1980s war on drugs. It’s a sparse film, full of small gestures and precise performances. The main character is seamlessly played by three actors, from prepubescence to young adulthood.

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The resonance between my 2013 YA novel BEREFT and the film is very strong. Like the character Chiron in Moonlight, my 13-year old character Rafe faces bullying and lives with his mentally unstable mother in an inner city neighborhood. (BEREFT differs in that it focuses on Rafe’s school life when he gets a scholarship to a Catholic prep school).

The importance of the movie, which centers on black queer love, cannot be overstated.
Our stories are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

The erotic tone-poems in Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam

Ancient, AncientAncient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The story “MalKai’s Last Seduction” is an erotic tone poem that celebrates black queer love. The set up is deceptively simple. MalKai is a visiting alien who is gathering “human nectar”–a substance derived from orgasms. MalKai belongs to a race of moth-like beings, but is able to appear as human. His species communicates via movement, rather than words. MalKai meets Cori, a closeted black gay man, and seduces him.

Cori had no way of imagining a velvet people who spoke through balletic motions and muscle spasms, arced arms and bent necks. A nation that consisted of beings who were physically similar to humans but biologically distinct. A people who thrived on human nectar.

The bulk of the story is told through the alien’s eyes. But there is a point of view shift, when we understand the transcendence and healing that Cori feels through the encounter:

Cori’s entire life, it could be argued, was an attempt to avoid any event such as this one. For years, he discretely avoided eye contact with men who wore their privacy in public like an expensive coat of chinchilla.

Both creatures, human and alien, experience a hallicination-ridden orgasm that acts as an exorcism for Cori.

He couldn’t remember his closet…

He is freed by the sexual act. It is liberating. Salaam drenches the story in sensory overload, with sentences that sing.

Kiini Ibura Salaam finds the balance between visionary poetics and science fiction in this tale and others.

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BOOK REVIEW: Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene by Gerald H. Gaskin. A peak inside a magical subculture.

Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom SceneLegendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene by Gerald H. Gaskin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Legendary is a gorgeous photography book that chronicles the vibrant underground Ballroom Scene. Gaskin captures black and Latino gay men in their finery. Their outfits exist somewhere beyond couture. They transform themselves into ephemeral creatures of their own imaginations. The balls themselves, held in NYC, DC and other urban areas, are alternate dimensions, where you can let your freak flags fly. Gender warriors become proud peacocks in bold colors. The sheer beauty of these photographic compositions are astounding. Gaskin has created a visual feast that reveals this magical subculture.

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