Films: Black Nations/Queer Nations?

In this 1995 documentary, director Shari Frilot highlighted the need to bust open static concepts of race, sexuality, and even nation states.

By Roya Rastegar Aug 05, 2009

Aug 5, 2009

Black Nations/Queer Nations? (Directed by Shari Frilot)

In 1995, queer luminaries including feminist Barbara Smith, writer Samuel Delany (pictured here), poet Essex Hemphill and activist Urvashi Vaid gathered for a groundbreaking conference at the City University of New York to discuss the economic, political and social situations of LGBT people in the African diaspora. Frilot’s experimental and lively approach to chronicling the conference centers on the critical urgency to challenge the way the categories of “Black” and “queer” are used as political strategy to redraw the boundaries of nation-states.

With a vibrant energy that lends extra pop to the analysis and dialogue, Frilot structures the documentary so the scholarly and activist dialogues are in conversation with issues circulating in popular culture and contemporary Black gay media production. She smartly intercuts the conference shots with art films like Isaac Julien’s The Attendant and Jocelyn Taylor’s Bodily Functions.

Particularly in light of the myopic positing of Black against queer following the passage of Prop 8 last year, this documentary highlights the necessity of busting open static, essential concepts of identity around race, sexuality and the nation.

Buy it or rent it from Third World Newsreel at