Last fall, "Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom" debuted in limited release in theaters around the country. The black gay themed film centered on the upcoming wedding of a male couple and the dramedy which unfolds leading up to their walk down the aisle.
Last month, Noah’s Arc was nominated for three NAACP Image awards: Best Independent Motion Picture and Outstanding Writing for a Motion Picture. This marks the second consecutive year that a black gay film has been nominated for an award by the venerable civil rights institution. Last year director Maurice Jamal’s film “Dirty Laundry” became the first gay themed movie to be nominated by the NAACP as it competed for Best Independent Motion Picture, but did not win.
This year could be yet another historic flashpoint for gay, black and black-gay entertainment should Noah’s Arc manage to grab either award that it is nominated for during the live telecast on the FOX Network Thursday, February 12, 2009.
It was first conceived as an idea then birthed into a DVD pilot that was later screened at black gay pride festivities across the country. It was then given additional energy through an online letter writing campaign which helped to get it on the gay but exclusively white LOGO cable channel and finally a shot at becoming a motion picture.
Noah’s Arc was truly the vision that simply would not stop. Its creator, the Hattiesburg, Mississippi raised and Hollywood transplanted Patrik-Ian Polk is part of a new breed of black Hollywood. They’re openly gay men and women who work unapologetically in creating gay imagery with universal themes of love, romance and family. Increasingly their collective work is gathering a steady steam of support, popularity and now industry recognition among straight and gay audiences alike.
“You dream about these things, award recognition, but you never really think it's going to happen to you," says Polk. "This is the Image Awards we're talking about! When you think of the NAACP, you think of very mainstream, middle-American, down-home black folk. So to have this small independent black film about a gay black wedding on Martha's Vineyard receive not one but three nominations is a very pleasant surprise."
Not to rest on his laurels, Polk is already at work developing a new film based upon the gay coming of age, high school novel “Blackbird” by black gay author, Larry Duplechan.
Polk isn’t the only black and openly gay director/writer whose work has received mainstream success. Director, Maurice Jamal’s “Dirty Laundry” was able to bring in heavy weight actors such as Loretta Divine, Rockmand Dunbar, and Jenifer Lewis along with cameos appearances by gospel music powerhouses Dorothy Norwood and the Rev. Bobby Jones.
Jason Bartlett, Deputy Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, a nationwide black gay civil rights organization concludes that “Images of same-gender-loving men on film will help the black community and the country at large to finally recognize that there are significant numbers of African American gays and lesbians in our society, and that we are just as human—with the same feelings, desires and dreams—as everyone else.”
And real life gay couple and co-directors/writers, Deondray Gossett and Quincy LeNear created “The DL Chronicles” an intriguing anthology focused on the multifaceted lives of black men who live their lives at varying levels of closetedness or on the “down low” (DL). In fact their television series airs on HereTV, a pay-per-view gay cable channel.