REVIEW: Films document same-sex marriage campaigns

Aug. 08, 2013 @ 03:45 PM

In 2012, voters in Maryland chose to support same-sex marriage, and in North Carolina voted against it. Among the films shown during the North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, which begins today [Friday] at the Carolina Theatre, are documentaries showing the lead up to the historic votes.
“The New Black,” directed and produced by Yoruba Richen, is a thorough examination of the black church’s role in the campaign leading up to marriage equality in Maryland, which was passed in 2012. It is a comprehensive look at African-American people of faith who support and oppose same sex marriage. Everyone has a chance to speak their piece. Footage shows pastors’ sermons on both sides. Pastors are interviewed about why they think the way they do. African-Americans are interviewed on the street and in the wealthy suburbs, and every location reveals differing opinions. Viewers also see the gay families and individuals who support same-sex marriage, and how their own families and churches affected their lives for better or worse. Young people talk about painful experiences when others used religion to hurt them.
“The New Black” is showing at the N.C. Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, but this is a film that should be seen beyond the LGBT community. Churches could benefit from seeing how their actions and preachers’ sermons affect other Christians. All topics are tackled – biblical passages referencing homosexuality, those who think homosexuality is a choice rather than being born that way, and how African-American history influences how the family structure and sexuality is discussed.
Gospel singer Tonex is also interviewed, and clips are shown of his rise in music and the controversy when he acknowledged that he is gay. Gay youth in the film said that he deserved props for his bravery, and that they all know there are tons of black gay men in the church.
A wide range of people are interviewed, and as a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference says in the film, “The black community is not monolithic.”
If you’re considering which films to see at the NCGLFF, put this at the top of your list. It’s an important work.
“The New Black” screens at 11 a.m. Aug. 10, 1:10 p.m. Aug. 11 and 9:15 p.m. Aug. 14. For complete schedule and ticket information, visit
Another take on same-sex marriage, also filmed in 2012, is the 16-minute short “Win or Lose,” which is closer to home as the subject is last year’s Amendment One in North Carolina, which passed as a ban on same-sex marriage.
Director Daniel Koehler focuses on Raleigh photographer Curtis Brown. Brown traveled the state photographing those who were against the marriage ban. His project was called “Vote Against” and shows portraits of Carolinians who support marriage equality. Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, the location for one of the photo shoots, is shown briefly in the film.
Brown also talks about his love for his home state, and as someone who is gay, felt the amendment was a slap in the face. Win or lose, he says in the film, he still created a portrait of community. “Win or Lose” was produced while Koehler was a student at Elon University, and it received the Student Academy Award for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival.
“Win or Lose” will screen before another film on same-sex marriage equality, this time focused on California, called “The Campaign,” at 2:50 p.m. Aug. 10 and 7:15 p.m. on Aug. 15. For complete schedule and ticket information, visit