Too Black Too Queer: celebrating black LGBTQ experience

Held annually, Brixton Reel Film Festival celebrates the diverse communities of South London, using arts and film to promote wellbeing. SH:24 co-ordinator and wearer of many metaphorical hats, Andre, has been volunteering with the organising committee this year. Here, he introduces a night of film celebrating black LGBTQ experience...

What’s in a name eh? Too Black Too Queer, the name for this year’s black LGBTQ segment of the Brixton Reel Film Festival (www.brixtonreel.co.uk), met some very different reactions when we gave flyers out a few weekends ago...

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From the grinning “Where do I sign up?” to the wrinkled nose of distaste and heard it all before eyeball roll, responses were as varied as last year’s performances at the South London film festival. Lesbian comedy confessionals, an avante garde strip show and seemingly Grindr inspired torch songs were just some of the acts squeezed between the movies of last year’s LGBTQ Brixton Reel event.  

We all need to see ourselves in the media, in film, telling our own stories, using our own voices

For one night of its annual South London film festival, the Brixton Reel celebrates all things black and queer, promoting positive images of black LGBTQ people, front and centre on the screen and dominating the stage. “We all need to see ourselves in the media, in film, telling our own stories, using our own voices” said Cary Sawhney, organiser of the Brixton Reel festival. “Visibility and positive images are important to our sense of identity and wellbeing. Which is what the Brixton Reel is all about.”

Moving beyond the marginalising clichés available in mainstream media, this evening of the festival brings together some of the many different experiences, relationships and identities that come from actual Black LGBTQ points of view, perspectives not only absent in media, but also under-represented in health services.

There are large gaps in the health outcomes of black, asian and minority ethnic communities compared to the general population. The Brixton Reel seeks to challenge some of these by promoting the Five Ways to Wellbeing, reducing stigma around mental health and creating a forum for different groups to share experiences, while offering an entertaining night out. 

At the SH:24 stall last year (we do get out sometimes) members of the audience shared some of their stories of isolation, discussed inequalities of access to health services and frustrations with not being able to get tested conveniently (if you are concerned about your sexual health check out our website www.sh24.org.uk). Not that it was easy to hold their attention given some of the talented acts on stage. As with last year, there will be a great selection of new short films on offer later this month. 

Too Black Too Queer, takes place at Clapham’s Two Brewers on 17th November (7pm onwards), there will be short movie screenings, cabaret and DJs from Batty Mama and Urban World.  Bookings are still available for the limited free tickets:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/brixton-reel-i-too-black-too-queer-tickets-28738386287