Reel Affirmations 2004
Review by Kristina Campbell
Rating: (5 out of 5)
Wednesday, 10/20/2004, 6:00 PM
Feature presentation, $0 at Cecile Goldman Theater at the DCJCC
IN ITS LATEST installment of the Naked Truth series, BET once again examines African-Americans’ attitudes toward HIV/AIDS and sex, delving forcefully into the topic of young black gay men and women dealing with the complexities of sexual orientation. Local documentary filmmaker Michael Joyner explores the various facets of being black and gay or black and HIV-positive — or all three — using genuine, thoughtful, frank subjects who talk about their experiences. The film looks at the coming out process, the reactions of parents, community support, the role of spirituality, and experiences with discrimination and effectively delivers a powerful message.
Tommy Jackson, program manager for D.C.’s Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League when the documentary was made, talks about being called a sissy in middle school and the importance of self-respect. “I realized early on that the better I treated people, the better I was treated,” he says. Robin Adams, 31, married and HIV-positive, talks about embracing life: “Even though I have this disease, I have to push myself into life and live life to the fullest. I enjoy life more now than I have ever in my whole life.” Randolph, a 15-year-old, describes the first time he came out to someone — by instant message in the school computer lab to his best friend. Randolph’s mother says she learned when her son was 13 that he was gay and knows life would be easier if he was straight, “but that’s okay.” Latoya, age 20, says she’s attracted to femininity; her mother, although supportive, admits that one of her reactions when Latoya came out was to say that she hadn’t been raised that way and it wasn’t right, but her support wins out and she says she wants what’s best for Latoya. And, she adds, “I want her to have me some grandchildren!”
As Tommy’s mother says, “Support your child. If you need some kind of counseling or something to do it, go get it because this is your child. Stand up and do the best you can for your child.” Joyner and BET, with Naked Truth 3, have stood up and done the best they can to embolden a community and enlighten audiences.