‘Gay masculinity,’ has long been considered an oxymoron in black communities and Falling for Angels makes a brilliant case for just how uncomfortably the juxtaposition sits even today. Especially when the persona representing both has ties to hip-hop.
As recently as 2012, the hip-hop world fell into the throes of panic when Frank Ocean courageously opened up about his sexuality. Though he owned bisexuality to the point of saying that he finally felt like a free man, the reception to his coming out revealed very mixed emotions from his fan base.
Luckily for Ocean, the black titans of hip hop arrived like cavalry just before anything turned ugly. Jay-Z announced his support of gay marriage. T.I and Ice Cube likewise spoke out against discrimination. Tyler the Creator quickly came to his collaborator’s side and voiced unequivocal support for Ocean. Even hip-hop legend Russell Simmons stated that he was profoundly moved by the rapper’s courage and honesty, stating, “Today is a big day for hip hop. It’s a day that will define who we really are. How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be?”
Like Frank Ocean, the black protagonist Abraham (Aaron D. Alexander) in the Leimert Park episode of Falling for Angels lives in LA and raps. Like Ocean he is handsome, athletic looking, and even has a smooth speaking tone. Unlike Ocean, however, Abraham is not famous, doesn’t have the entire hip-hop glitterati to support him and is not about to come out publicly and risk becoming a pariah in an unforgiving black neighborhood.
In fact, Abraham lives with a girlfriend, has a steady job and is well loved by what is his very earnest and warm middle-class family – a supportive bunch who even come out to watch him perform slam poetry to a receptive audience for the very first time.
Another thing happens for the first time. And it strikes Abraham with more stage fright than any performance. Abraham meets Terick (Blake Young-Fountain), a graceful, finely tuned black gay man at ease with his own sexuality. It’s clear from the onset that Abraham likes men. Whether gay or bisexual is immaterial. What is clear is that Abraham is forced to confront his own true self. He can no longer remain in the closet while coming out in his community is no easy thing.
Writer/Director Waymon Boone has an unspoken history whose undercurrent is felt throughout the one being told. The history of the masculine black archetype is ever-present. It is the figure one needs to compare oneself to, the ideal for being accepted amongst one’s own, amongst those who have enough prejudice with which to contend.