Pariah: Could This Arty Black Lesbian Flick Go Mainstream?

The most famous African-American lesbian film we can think of is The Color Purple, but it’s not entirely a lesbian film and doesn’t exactly add a ton of color to a lesbian filmography featuring mostly lily white faces. We’re not hating, there’s a place at the table for caucasian ladies, but we love seeing some color in our queer celluloid, which is why we’re so excited about Pariah. So what’s the story?

From Focus Features:

Adepero Oduye portrays Alike (pronounced “ah-lee-kay”), a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents (Kim Wayans and Charles Parnell) and younger sister (Sahra Mellesse) in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. With the support of her best friend Laura (Pernell Walker), she is especially eager to find a girlfriend. Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity – sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward.

Dad seems to approve, mom’s not so excited about her daughter “turning into a man”, and Alike gets caught in the middle. A young breakout actress and comdienne Kim Wayans from In Living Color in a dramatic role? Plus, an upper middle class poet instead of a poor urban sister?!! Could this film finally mark progress in more nuanced portrayals of gay black characters? We’ll certainly watch to find out!