UnLonely Film Festival 5

2 Black Boys

Giovanni Adams’ poetry on his black queer journey from boyhood to manhood, isolation to intimacy.

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Consider This

Talking with others about a shared arts experience can enrich our perspectives. Watch this video to explore the film’s meaning and major themes a bit more.

Meet the Filmmaker

What is their why?

From Director, Rachel Myers:
“When I collaborated with Giovanni Adams on Love is a Dirty Word, his one man show I was enamored by his charisma, talent and poetry. The language in his writing and performance managed to dance the line in self-reflection like a song, opening a window into the rich beauty of his experience and removing the filter of “other” often placed on sexuality in black, gay romantic life. Each passage was so thick and delicious I felt like you could spread the words like butter and as a filmmaker it was impossible for me not to imagine what these moments might feel like in images. Rhythm in the phrases and the music in the original work felt like a beat and the dance sequence was derived out of those patterns, the void for what can’t be spoken. Gio is an unbelievably talented artist and I only hope the film does justice to the complexity and intricacy imbued in his writing and performance. I wanted to show the combination in how we experience life and memory unfolding at once. How there aren’t clear lines when we talk about who we love and identity and that layers of the past, childhood and intimacy are woven together to form the dialogue of who we are.”

From Writer & Performer, Giovanni Adams:
“I think love is commonly confused with conformity. We are conditioned to feel lovable when we conform to the dominant culture, or at least when we fit neatly into groups of affiliation. If I’m like everybody else then I’m certainly not alone, I’m safe. But what happens when one identity disqualifies or makes us the target of another?  Belonging in America often comes at a terrible price, a dangerous process of othering, strict lines are drawn around exactly who and what is lovable, which causes us to commit all forms of betrayal, even of our own selves.  I began developing the text in the film 2 Black Boys for the play Love is a Dirty Word in 2015 with theater director, Becca Wolff, at a time when the perceived abject otherness of blackness was being made visible. To be born black in America is to live with a heightened awareness of your “out of placeness” and the vulnerability that comes along with it. The spectacle of black death gone viral got me thinking about my own complex relationship to love and home.

If love truly is conformity then obviously Mississippi is a hell of a place to raise black boys, especially so when that boy is queer. Is there such a thing as being too different, too dirty, to love? That question is the proverbial seed in my play that was adapted to this film. It’s the question a little boy born in my hometown, Jackson, was too small, too terrified, to answer and so he ran away. I wrote the play as a meditation on childhood memories in Mississippi. It traces my journey back home to rediscover and connect with that boy buried inside of me, a process which felt like an incredibly liberating act of love.

Rachel Myers was a creative on the world premiere in Los Angeles. When she approached me about making a film inspired by my writing and poetry, I was like, “let’s do it!” The film builds on the ideas of play in a way that is so brilliantly subtle, beautiful and seductive.

Our country is riven by lines that separate us into groups along race, class, gender, ideology. Given the sharp divisions it can seem silly to talk about love in the public sphere. But this is what the play and film is about, finding love for our many identities. And I hope it would challenge audiences to consider how we might, as individuals and as a nation, hold our mess of seemingly competing identities—reconciled and unreconciled—into a peaceful whole.”

Director Rachel Myers is an award-winning director and designer, raised in Oregon with an international background, she’s created over 150 film, television and theatre productions in her 20+ years, starting as an actor. Myers received her MFA from the Yale School of Drama, BA Pomona and Scripps Colleges, she studied Theatre at RADA and Art at PNCA. Myers is represented by UTA and Artists First.

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Join the Conversation

How did you relate to Adams’ themes around childhood and identity? How did the dance movements within the film express to you the ideas and themes of the film?

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