And we’re back! In this edition of our must-see Black gay films, we celebrate international Black cinema and the creators who aim to highlight stories set against varying circumstances. From traditional theatrical films to documentaries, our goal remains simple: highlight Black international voices and the stories that matter most.
This list of black gay films isn’t all-encompassing, and are more films with prominent Black gay characters than films by Black gay filmmakers. We do hope you’ll discover a new gem or two, all the while remembering those iconic moments brought to you by the hands of some fantastic Black LGBT creators.
Young Soul Rebels (1991), UK
Director/Co-Writer: Isaac Julien
Anytime a film, queer influenced or not, has a thriller component, I’m sold. “Young Soul Rebels” is a Black gay British-thriller film that tackles a host of issues. From race to sexuality, to classism, to crime, there’s no shortage of themes. Aside from the main story, the murder of a Black gay man, we’re able to follow a love story that mixes the fun of being gay with the plight of acceptance and freedom.
Rag Tag (2006) – UK/Nigeria
Director/Writer: Adaora Nwandu
Fresh into adulthood, I began to hear friends chat about the film “Rag Tag.” While it would be some time before I saw the movie, I was pleasantly surprised when I did. The film definitely resonated with my personal journey. Two childhood friends reconnecting later in life, at different times, igniting their old friendship. But it would be the silence, the tension, the curiosity that kept my attention. Those “in-between” moments many of us face, in the safest of spaces created for us, while all the time we’re still struggling to be seen. Will they, or won’t they? I think you can guess, but the journey to figuring it out is well worth watching.
Being 17 (2016) – France
Directed/Co-Written by: André Téchiné
This French film, “Being 17,” was a treat I stumbled upon on my quest to see more love between two men on screen. This Black gay film follows two high-school-aged guys. One is adopted, the other one is not. Their differences ignite a fire that leads them to realize their deepest desires. The ferocity of their hearts is captured through violence and passion. This film does a great job of capturing those crucial moments of identity, all the while confronting a rage associated with acceptance, burgeoning sexuality, and love.
Children of God (2010) – Bahamas
Writer/Director – Kareem Mortimer
“Children of God” is a Black gay film that was met with mixed reviews. While the cinematography was well received, the story was met with a bit of resistance. Pegged as mirroring standard film formulas, I stand on the opposite end of that review. What we witness may not be ground-breaking in storytelling. Still, we see a story of two Bahamian men fighting through a society that reminds them of every insertion that their love is prohibited. We deserve to be seen, no matter how simple the storyline.
Woubi Chéri (1998) – France/Ivory Coast
Directed by: Laurent Bocahut/Phillip Brooks
It’s no secret that being gay in many places around the world can have life-ending consequences. As a result, many of our Black gay brothers not only can’t live their authentic lives but don’t see themselves depicted in Black gay films. “Woubi Cheri” is a rare look into the days of gay and our trans family in an African city. Day-to-day, we see the ways gender roles manifest and what love looks like as each person navigates their relationships, existence and maintains their identity in a society that seeks to minimize their presence.
The Wound (2017) – South Africa
Co-Writer/Director – John Trengove
“The Wound“ is a Black gay film that rides the tension of secrecy, love, and tradition. The protagonist, Xolani, eagerly anticipates an annual ceremony in the mountains of the Eastern Cape where he can reunite with his male lover. Things become interesting when Xolani realizes that his new mentor is gay, elevating the stakes and putting his relationship at risk. This film received many great reviews and a great deal of protest because of the homosexual plot, which means watching it and telling your friends to watch it. The eloquent way in which the stories collide makes this well worth watching.
Forbidden Games: The Justin Fashanu Story (2017) – UK
Director: Jon Carey, Adam Darke
Black gay men in sports is not a foreign concept. But still, the expected masculinity aligned with assumed heterosexuality is a societal standard that many professional athletes come up against. “Forbidden Games” is a Black gay film/documentary that looks at the journey of Justin Fashanu, a football player who comes out as gay while remaining active in the league. While Justin would commit suicide at the young age of 37, this documentary aims to highlight the complexity at which he existed, all the while seeking to destroy a narrative that ostracised so many Black, let alone queer men.
The Things You Think I’m Thinking (2017) – Canada
Written by: Jesse LaVercombe
This Black gay short film allows us an intimate look into a burn survivor and amputee who goes on a date with a regularly-abled man for the first time. Loaded with conversations around body issues, emotional security, and intimacy after trauma, this heart-tugging film will open your eyes to a perspective we don’t often gain insight into. Speaking on themes and struggles we all battle with, blended with circumstances we don’t usually discuss, prepare for a journey that will welcome some inner dialogue as we work through the ways we all show up in real life.
Kinky Boots (2005) – UK
Writers: Geof Deane & Tim Firth
One of my absolute favourite Black gay films/musicals is “Kinky Boots.” While you can find the story of Lola and her fierce boots on many stages around the performance community, what I love most about “Kinky Boots” is the story. At its core, it’s about coming together and leaning on the things that make us alike versus different. It should come as no surprise that a drag queen has the foresight to save a failing business, all the while rocking the best fashions along the way.
The Pass (2016) – UK
Writer: John Donnelly
Wrapping up this list is a story of two English football players (one Black and one white) who cross paths the night before a significant game in Romania. Riding the excitement of their connection and friendship, an unsuspecting kiss opens the door for these two friends to explore the sexual tension that they’ve been avoiding. You won’t find any dynamic twists and turns in “The Pass.” You will see some fantastic acting and themes around masculinity and homophobia as two men try to find a way to go where their hearts desire.
We’re always open to learning from our readers, so let us know if we’ve missed any of your favourite films in the comment section below. Happy watching.
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