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Mini Film Festival: Brotha/Sista Outsider: Black Sexuality and the Church

Sat, 26 Apr, 2014 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM


The New Black
The New Black
Amir Dixon in Friend of Essex
Amir Dixon in Friend of Essex

Join Union Theological Seminary in a visual conversation about sexuality and the church when they put two recent documentaries, "The New Black" and "Friend of Essex" in dialogue with one another during the mini film festival, "Brothas/Sistas Outsiders: Black Sexuality and the Church” to be held Saturday, April 26th beginning at 1:00 pm. Both of the recently released documentaries offer perspectives from young LGBT/SGL people about the church’s impact on same sex marriage, homophobia, and the HIV epidemic.

After the film, there will be a panel discussion with: Yoruba Richen, Director, The New Black; Amir Dixon, Director, Friend of Essex; Pastor Vanessa Brown, Pastor, Rivers @ Rehoboth; Rev. Melvin Miller, S.T.M. student, Union Theological Seminary and Associate Minister, Fort Washington Collegiate Church. Frank Leon Roberts will moderate

Friend of Essex is a mix of one-on-one interviews, group interviews, narrative pieces and poetry inspired by Essex Hemphill’s writings and Marlon Riggs’ Tongues Untied. A piece in the film entitled, “Dear White Jesus” explores religious homophobia in the Black church and its direct connections to racism. Two central pieces of Friend of Essex highlight the importance of community among young black gay men and the HIV epidemic, which disproportionately impacts young Black gay men. More Info >>

The New Black is a documentary that tells the story of how the African- American community is grappling with the gay rights issue in light of the recent gay marriage movement and the fight over civil rights.  The film documents activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage and examines homophobia in the black community’s institutional pillar – the black church – and reveals the Christian right wing’s strategy of exploiting this phenomenon in order to pursue an anti-gay political agenda.

Union Students, Staff, and Faculty are admitted for free
General Admission $7 by credit card only

Michael Roberson, S.T.M. candidates and Kentay Williams, M.Div. candidate are organizers of this event. 

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 About the Participants 


Yoruba Richen
Director, The New Black

Yoruba is a documentary filmmaker who has directed and produced films in the U.S. and abroad including Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. Her latest film The New Black premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June and went on to win Audience Awards at AFI Docs and Philly Q Fest and Frameline LGBT Film Festival as well as a special jury mention at Frameline. The film continues to play festivals all over the world and will open at New York’s Film Forum next February and air on PBS’s Independent Lens next June. Yoruba has received numerous grants including from ITVS, The Sundance Documentary Fund, Chicken & Egg Pictures, and the Ford Foundation. She won the Creative Promise Award at Tribeca All Access and was also a Sundance producers’ fellow.

 Amir Dixon

Amir Dixon
Director, Friend of Essex

Amir Dixon was born in Boston Massachusetts but raised in West Palm Beach Florida. He got involved in the LGBTQ movement at an early age in South Florida sitting on the Mayor’s Teen Time board and being the voice of LGBTQ youth; pressing the need to address homophobia, transphobia and racism in the Palm Beach county school system.

At 16 becoming the liaison for COMPASS a LGBTQ organization for Palm Beach county youth and the Palm Beach County school board, again pressing the importance of addressing the needs and concerns around LGBTQ youth with a focus on LGBTQ youth of color.

At 19 Amir moved back to Boston for school and in search of community he found a new organization called HBGC “The Hispanic Black Gay Coalition”; starting off as a volunteer then transitioning into community service coordinator now he is the organization’s youngest Board member.

In June of 2010 he started an online web series called “Brotherhood TV” that focuses on giving a voice to young gay and bisexual men of color. Tackling subjects like masculinity, race, HIV and domestic violence.

Amir started his own production company, Nu Nation produced his first film a documentary titled “Friend of Essex’s” around the lives of young black gay men. He has received several awards for his outstanding film "Friends of Essex", and has been an honored guest speaker at many of the nation's larets public health and social jstice conference, including this year's Creating Change Conference organized by The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Amir's motto is:

“I’d rather die than sit in silence in the face of injustice and inequality” –Amir


Pastor Vanessa Brown
Pastor, Rivers @ Rehoboth

Pastor Vanessa Brown Is a native New Yorker who has been working in various areas of ministry, from gracing international platforms to spearheading local community “grassroots” efforts. Pastor Brown is duly licensed and ordained. She is the founder of Rivers of Living Water Family Worship Center which has merged itself with Family of Faith & Rehoboth. She is currently the Senior Pastor of Rivers @ Rehoboth, a radically inclusive ministry in Harlem. She is a part of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries where the presiding prelate is Bishop Yvette A. Flunder. Rivers at Rehoboth is also a member of the Disciples of Christ Christian Church denomination. Recently Pastor Brown has been elevated to Episcopal Liaison of the North East Region of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. Serving faith based institutions and community based organizations from Philadelphia to Maine. Pastor Brown has received her Certificate of Theological Education for Leadership from Pacific School of Religion (Berekely, CA) and is currently a student at Lexington Theological Seminary completing her Masters of Divinity. Her love and compassion for the marginalized community has been featured in the NY Times (May 2012), AutoStraddle, (May 2012), The Root, 20 Black Movers & Shakers (June 2012), Norwegian TV2 (Oct. 2012) and most recently, Go Magazine, (December/January, Leaders of the Pack.


Rev. Melvin Miller
S.T.M. student, Union Theological Seminary
Associate Minister, Fort Washington Collegiate Church

Melvin Miller has extensive experience designing and delivering programs and workshops concerning a variety of topics and is a recognized trainer, coach, preacher and creative artist, who. Mr. Miller is the Founder/Creative Director of Poindexter, Miller and Associates and The Global Youth Leadership Institute. He holds a B.A. in American History and Dance from Columbia University and an M. Div. from Union Theological Seminary. An ordained minister, he has served on the staff of The Riv¬erside as Director of Youth and Young Adults under the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr. He is the Associate Minister at The Fort Washington Collegiate Church in New York City. Mr. Miller is pursuing an advanced degree (STM) in Psychiatry and Religion at Union Theological Seminary.


Frank Leon Roberts (moderator)
NYU Ph.D. Candidate
Adjunct Professor, NYU, The New School & Hunter College

Frank Roberts is a writer, educator, and critic based in New York City. He is known as the “Jazzman Intellectural”. He is a lecturer/professor in the Gallatin School at NYU, the English department at Hunter College and the African American Studies department at John Jay/CUNY. He has held teaching positions in Princeton University’s W.E.B. Dubois Scholars Institute, NYU’s College of Arts and Science, and The New School for Public Engagement. His areas of teaching expertise include 20th century African American literature; Afro-American art criticism; film and media studies; and histories of black popular culture. Roberts received his B.A. in English and African American Studies from NYU’s Gallatin School, his M.A. from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is completing his doctorate (Ph.D.) in NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science and is a recipient of the Ford Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. A public intellectual, he is a New York City native living in Harlem.

Location: James Memorial Chapel
Union Theological Seminary
3041 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
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