Karess Taylor-Hughes as she appears in the film The New Black
"The New Black" is a documentary that looks at how the African-American community is confronting the gay rights issue in light of the recent gay marriage movement. The film also represents gay rights as a part of the ongoing struggle to achieve civil rights. "Let's be clear. This is the unfinished business of black people being free," said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, whose story is featured in the film and who is the executive director and chief executive officer of the National Black Justice Coalition.
Karess Taylor-Hughes, also featured in the film, made a similar point in her article for Ebony last October: "The African-American civil rights movement is not separate from the L.G.B.T. rights movement. It's all one big movement — and one long story — with new chapters written every couple of decades. Over the past couple years, our current chapter has seen many liberating laws passed." The film will be screened tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreation Center, on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike. A discussion will follow. Viewers will gain an understanding of both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage through the testimonies of activists, families, and clergy.
"The New Black" hones in on the homophobia within the black church, a cornerstone in many black communities. The film also shows how the church's fundamental place within the black community is taken advantage of by the Christian right. The location of the screening is especially important to Ms. Taylor-Hughes, as she is a Bridgehampton native who struggled in her early years as a gay person of color living in a conservative foster family within what she described in her Ebony article as, "a fairly socially conservative community, with more churches than clothing stores."
She speaks as an intelligent, impassioned, and dedicated leader of the fight for equality and says that her role in the film, most importantly, is as someone to "make sure people are being activated to vote, and to teach about the political system".
Ms. Taylor-Hughes said she has often felt like the black person in the room within the L.G.B.T. community and the L.G.B.T. person in the room within the black community and is working to unify the two. She notes that the white community most often reaches into the black community to benefit itself, for example, to tap into the black church's prominence in order to promote anti-gay propaganda. Thus, she explains, for her to be a vocal person of color about gay rights is to begin to mediate and heal the distrust of other people of color with the white, patriarchal L.G.B.T. community.
At only 24, she is a veteran of political campaigning who worked as a field organizer for Equality Maryland and the Human Rights Campaign. Later in life she became the foster daughter of Anna Throne-Holst, the Southampton Town Supervisor. She is now studying at Columbia University for her masters in sports management. She said the film is "one state's story," Maryland's, the first state to legalize gay marriage and the state in which she was campaigning when the director of the film, Yoruba Richen, asked to follow her during the marriage equality campaign. Those who attend the screening will gain an understanding of the gay rights movement and "the way in which different communities take it on".