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The Normal Heart

This post has been bugging me for some time. By that I mean it needed to be written, but I sure as hell did not want to write it. I watched the Normal Heart on HBO along with everyone else. Man is it powerful. Larry Kramer wrote a great treatise on Reagan and NYC ignoring GRID, which became HIV. As I watched the famous piece played out in front of me, while the performances were brilliant, (even Julia stepped up) I could not help but reflecting on the fact I was seeing yet ANOTHER all white story about beautiful white gay people. Angels in America, Longtime Companion, BENT, The Normal Heart. We have a lot of stories about pretty white boys dying tragically of AIDS. If I were to believe film, theatre and television, I would think that only white gay men die of the disease. Thank God I guess for B.D. Wong making a 3 second appearance in the Normal Heart, it added some color. Yes I know the characters were all real people Larry knew, so they have to be played by all white people in the movie, but it still hit me. Where is my access? Where do I come into this story?  I guess I can’t blame Larry for having all white friends. I am sure there were NO black gay people in the arts or social justice in NYC at the time who were infected…

I am not being fair I know. Well, life is not fair and AIDS certainly is not fair, neither is Racism for that matter. Visibility is important, and I tire of the narrative that all gay people are white and the victims are all white. Racism in the LGBTQ community and Homophobia in the black community is well documented. So seeing people who look like me in media is important.

Where do gay blacks fit?

normal_heart_640I guess I need to write that play. Lord knows I can’t let Tyler Perry do it.

I remember and hold up again and forever Islan Nettles a trans sister who was murdered. Also Mark Carson.  LGBTQ people come in more shades than just white, and their lives matter too.

Islan Nettles Islan

Mark carson Mark

The lives of LGBTQ People of Color are worth just as much as whites. It is time to make sure that is a known fact, instead of my belief and existence.  In light of brown folk getting shot all over and the perpetrators getting away with it by the new Jim Crow laws that allow whites to stand their ground and shoot us, I am reminded of a beautiful and sad line from THe Normal Heart:

““Why are they letting us die? Why is no one helping us? And here’s the truth, here’s the answer. They just don’t like us.” – Larry Kramer

 

I am afraid you are right Larry…

 

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2 comments on “The Normal Heart

  1. Brian
    May 31, 2014

    Woosh. Thank you for your powerful and necessary words Billy. I too am left unsatifised with the “well these are Larry’s friends” response. It’s the same response HBO gives to “Girls” … “Well this is Lena Dunham’s story, we can’t just pepper in people of color for the sake of having people of color” which I guess (or at least I will stipulate) is fair. Except when you zoom out and look at collection of works being created, produced, distributed a pattern emerges… the one you pointed out Bent, Longtime Companion, Angels in America…

    I think that’s what makes racism so insidious; we’re taught that racism is a white person hating black people and well Larry Kramer doesn’t hate black people so The Normal Heart should be excused from a racial critique. But The Normal Heart doesn’t exist in a vacuum. And maybe we can’t fault Larry (though, I think we can… white people can and do have meaningful relationships with people of color whom they include in their creative works) but we *can* fault the system, the industry, the audience that creates and supports and praises these types of pieces to the exclusion of others.

    I want you to write that play Billy, I think it would be brilliant. And unfortunately, when you do, we’ll still have a heck of a lot of work to do to get it funded, produced, distributed, acclaimed. It will be so worth it though. And the world will be better for it. Can’t wait!

  2. thekynegro29
    June 1, 2014

    The spirit has been prodding me to write. I thought this blog would fill the void, and it has some, but yes, plays are coming back into my head. It’s been a few months since that has occurred, so it is time for me to put finger to iPad and do it. Certainly doesn’t let the rest of the world off the hook, but I can write my story and the voices of my lgbtq people of color.

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This entry was posted on May 31, 2014 by in Black, celebrity and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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