Yoruba Richen's "The New Black" focuses on the Question 6 campaign in Maryland, a 2012 ballot initiative which asked voters to affirm or reject a marriage equality bill passed earlier by the legislature. Similar campaigns took place in Washington and Maine, but the Maryland campaign was different because of the state's racial composition: African-Americans make up 30 percent of the state's population and comprised around a quarter of its electorate in 2012.
For Richen, "The New Black" was born in the aftermath of Proposition 8, California's 2008 voter-approved marriage equality ban, which was quickly (and incorrectly) attributed in large part to California's black voters. Richen planned to examine the alleged divide between the LGBT and African-American communities when California went back to the ballot to repeal Prop 8; when Maryland beat California to that punch, though, she knew the film's moment had come.
With this in mind, the two focuses of Richen's insightful documentary become one. Most of the film is devoted to an examination of the campaign itself through the lens of Maryland's black community: Richen interviews men and women working both for and against Question 6, capturing the complex diversity of opinion on the issue.
But the film is equally devoted to two young gay activists, members of a new generation that is challenging the status quo both writ large and within their community. As "The New Black" demonstrates, the divide between gay issues and black issues is an illusion and, ultimately, a distraction from a deeper conversation about difference in America.
"Call Me Kuchu" is the debut feature of directors Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, and like "The New Black," the film's title is an invitation to the rich nuances of its story. Centered on David Kato, the first openly gay man in Uganda and a pioneering civil rights advocate, the film channels the affirmation of Kato and his fellow 'kuchus,' or LGBT people, that they exist and that their rights should be recognized and protected despite the virulent homophobia of their country.