written by David Rohn

Saw the movie MOONLIGHT last night, an unforgettable Miami based story of a very sensitive (Gay) Black kid growing up poor in Liberty City in the late ’90’s or so. It s about being male and sensitive, growing up in a culture where men are tough, a lot of people use drugs and nobody questions the social constructs of gender, of drug abuse and of verbal or actual violence.

The film s divided into 3 parts; essentially the youth, adolescence and adulthood of Little / Sharone. In the first (with frames that could be hung in an art gallery as stills) we meet tormented withdrawn Sharone, who knows he s different from the other boys but can t find clues about how to find his way. It s painful. The second segment is about High School, and the way the macho male construct puts him in harm s way; a victim who s beaten at school; and a quirky first sexual experience. Of course, an experience that can t be mentioned or even acknowledged: it s against all the rules of High School social codes and ostensibly, mainstream society. The last segment is about male courtship, the way men (Gay or Straight or….), are given a male construct that leaves them virtually unable to express feelings of affection, tenderness or love. The result is a magnificently written and acted scene that s as nuanced a love scene as any description of the delicate and subtle courtships in Oriental Imperial times. It s beautifully written and acted.

We ve put a lot of energy into re-defining what is feminine but (as I’ve said before) we can’t re define what is ‘feminine’, without re-defining our rigid masculinity construct too.

Violence and Aggression are no more hallmarks of what s ‘masculine’ than Passivity’ and Deference’ are ‘Feminine characteristics. This movie may allow people to believe that this sort of bullying and toughness (and drug / alcohol addiction for that matter) is something poor Black kids go through, but having known a woman raising a son here in school on expensive Key Biscayne, who faced the same thing, I think it s important to admit that this happens in other social and ethnic communities,) She eventually moved to Canada where her son was no longer attacked at school, and who eventually came out Gay).
What a great movie about our shared humanity.

David Rohn is a multidisciplinary artist based in Miami.