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African American

Basking in the glow of Moonlight

An independent movie about poor, gay, black boys has won Best Picture. Let that sink in for a minute. Don’t let the whole mix up of envelopes and La La Land kefuffle take away from the shine surrounding this victory. “Moonlight” isn’t the first gay-themed film to ever be nominated. Critically-acclaimed movies like “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Philadelphia,” “Brokeback Mountain,” and “Milk” all told stories of LGBTQ characters — some based on real individuals, others entirely fictional — as they encounter discrimination and fight against it. But its the first time an LGBTQ film has taken home the top prize.

It is a largely autobiographical story adapted from the play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” written by Tarell Alvin McCraney. The film chronicles the life of a black child, from his boyhood in a rough Miami neighborhood, through adulthood.

The film comes at a pivotal time for both the black and LGBTQ communities. The last few years have been ones in which Americans were inundated with images of violence and police brutality against the black community. So much furor from these incidents arose that it sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

Blacks within the LGBTQ community have not fared much better. Incidents of violence against trans women of color have risen at an alarming rate. The newly elected President of the United States has made it one of his first priorities to rescind the rights of transgender students to use gender neutral bathrooms in schools. There is a palpable dread that further efforts to rescind the rights of LGBTQ Americans is next.

Perhaps the film’s success proves that it is not merely a film about blacks or gays. It encompasses a number of themes including poverty, family, drug addiction, identity, love, isolation and acceptance.

But now that “Moonlight” has that claimed the distinction of being “Best Picture”, what next?

Winning the Best Picture Oscar has given “Moonlight” a distinction which will enable it to be included in college curriculum. It now occupies a foot place in history.

As gut-wrenching as the events in the film itself are, the story still ends on an uplifting note. Perhaps that is what we need to focus on most in these trying times . As much as certain people try to silence our voices from telling our stories, they have only been proven to be all the more worth hearing.