Monday, June 20, 2005

The Fire Next Time

Alone in the movie theater I saw waiting for the presentation. Finally, the lights got dim and the endless stream of previews began to flow. One after another the screen was graced by faces that looked nothing like me. There were at least five previews shown and none of them featured a Black man, woman or child. It is so ironic that just a few weeks before I went to an exhibit of African American film posters. I longed to feel a connection and that longing was never satisfied.

The next day I got an email from a dear friend of mine who sits on the board of Fire & Ink. It is an organization dedicated to educating and empowering authors, poets, griots and creative gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of African descent to produce and promote their works. Because of them hopefully the experience I had in the movie theater won’t be as common when I go to bookstores. The organization was founded by Lisa C. Moore following her putting together a conference for lgbt writers of African descent in the summer of 2002 in Chicago, IL. This year they will hold their second conference, Fire & Ink: The Revival, October 6 – 9 in Austin, Texas. Early registration, which is critical to them having this event, is now open. It is sure to be a powerful event.

I remember the first time I stumbled upon a book with characters who were Black men who loved other Black men and how intrigued I was that the book even existed. It opened up a whole new world for me. It was affirming, educational and entertaining and offered me hope. I didn’t have to be the characters I saw on In Living Color. The book was written by someone like me, for me and showed a more accurate reflection of me – and many others. I could be a strong, healthy, educated Black man that loved other Black men. I hope that those who attend Fire & Ink this year will be filled with the spirit and energy of the great writers and storytellers who came before them. There are longings that only we can satisfy for ourselves. There are truths that can only be told by those that know them. There are images that can only be projected in their entirety by those who are them. With more writers emerging and an expanding audience I hope the world is ready for the fire next time.