Marlon T. Riggs: Retrospective
Anthem (USA, 1991, 9 min)
Marlon Riggs’ experimental music video politicizes the homoeroticism of African-American men. With images—sensual, sexual, and defiant—and words intended to provoke, Anthem reasserts the self-evident right to life and liberty in an era of pervasive anti-gay, anti-Black backlash and hysterical cultural repression.
Affirmations (USA, 1990, 10 min)
An exploration of Black gay male desires and dreams. Affirmations starts with an affectionate, humorous confessional and moves on to a wish for empowerment and incorporation.
No Regret (USA, 1992, 38 min)
Through music, poetry, and quiet, at times, chilling self-disclosure, five positive Black gay men speak of their individual confrontation with AIDS, illuminating the difficult journey Black men throughout America have made in coping with the personal and social devastation of the epidemic. From panic, resignation, and silence to the discovery of the redemptive, healing power in being vocal and visible as HIV-positive Black gay men, each tells a singular and at the same time familiar story of self-transformation—a story in which a once shameful, unmentionable “affliction” is forged into a tool of personal and communal empowerment.
Tongues Untied (USA, 1989, 55 min)
The seminal documentary on Black gay life, Emmy Award-winning director Marlon T. Riggs’ 1989 Tongues Untied uses poetry, personal testimony, rap and performance (featuring poet Essex Hemphill and others), to describe the homophobia and racism that confront Black gay men.
The stories are fierce examples of homophobia and racism: the man refused entry to a gay bar because of his color; the college student left bleeding on the sidewalk after a gay-bashing; the loneliness and isolation of the drag queen. Yet they also affirm the black gay male experience: protest marches, smoky bars, “snap diva,” humorous “musicology” and Vogue dancers.
A quarter of a century after its release, director Marlon T. Riggs’ documentary is as relevant as ever.
Marlon T. Riggs
Several, see above