Black History Month: Tongues Untied
Marlon Riggs' essay film Tongues United gives voice to communities of black gay men, presenting their cultures and perspectives on the world as they confront racism, homophobia, and marginalization. It broke new artistic ground by mixing poetry (by Essex Hemphill and other artists), music, performance and Riggs' autobiographical revelations. The film was embraced by black gay audiences for its authentic representation of style, and culture, as well its fierce response to oppression. It opened up opportunities for dialogue among and across communities. Tongues Untied has been lauded by critics for its vision and its bold aesthetic advances, and vilified by anti-gay forces who used it to condemn government funding of the arts. It was even denounced from the floor of Congress. "Black men loving Black men is the revolutionary act" is the rallying cry at the film's end and after more than 20 years, Tongues United remains a celebrated vehicle for eloquent self-expression and liberation.
*Selected by NY Times as one of 28 essential films that convey the larger history of black Americans in cinema.