US, March 14 – AMIR DIXON’s recently released documentary, Friend of Essex, explores the lives of young black gay men and the struggles they face.
Dixon, 23, packed the film with one-on-one and group interviews, and jarring narratives that probe the difficult questions surrounding masculinity, identity, sexuality, and race. Viewers get a closer look at the black LGBT church, notions of masculinity within gay culture, and most powerfully, the mask worn by many within the young black gay community.
Friend of Essex was inspired by the teachings of the black gay writer, poet, producer, and activist Essex Hemphill, who died in 1995 of AIDS-related complications. His work, which focused on homophobia, racism toward LGBT people, and community, set the stage for Dixon’s film.
"The film also pays homage to Marlon Riggs [writer and director of Tongues Untied] who displayed the experiences of black gay men in the late ’80s," said Dixon.
The film has been screened at colleges, community centers, and other venues across the country since its release in January in Boston. But Dixon strives to push his film further — which is why he will be traveling to Uganda to screen it in late April. The Ugandan parliament is still considering the controversial “Kill the Gays” bill, and the country’s strict laws forbidding homosexuality have forced Dixon’s screening to be held on a private, invite-only basis.
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