“I believe that the enemy has invaded them. I just don’t think they were born that way.”
This commentary is the opening line of Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church, a new movie which frames the stories and problems young African American LGTBQ lives of the Black Church.
In the realm of humanity and LGTBQ rights, slow strides are being made in regards of awareness of the amount of physical and mental abuse faced by black youth. Many continuously endure the tribulations of devout faith, religion, and their own sexual identities.
“The church is a root of African American culture…” said Clay Cane, the documentary’s developer and producer. “What happens to a person when they are taught they are an abomination? How can someone value their life when they are told that their existence is a sin?”
While set in one of the more progressive black cities in the South, Atlanta, GA, Cane still struggled to find people willing to be documented discussing their own understanding of the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and religion.
“People who were afraid to do the interviews; afraid to lose their jobs. People were born and raised in the church, their jobs might be in the Church, their livelihood, their families, everything they know of,” Cane said.
But their connection to the church was just as key as their ability to be filmed. Developing trust with those featured in the movie was key to its success.
Clay says the unique ties black people have to their churches is something else that stood out. The history of holy places as refuge from slavery — and a way to escape from Jim Crow — and, finally, where the Civil Rights Movement formed long before marches in the streets.
“The Black Church is rooted in the African American community in a very unique way,” he said.