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Screening of "The New Black" Leads to Lively Discussion

Robyn and Sharon during Q&A-resized

A documentary that closely examines the African American perspective on a range of LGBT issues was screened during Black History Month at AARP Headquarters. The film "The New Black" was offered jointly by AARP DC, Sage Metro DC and PRiSM, AARP’s LGBT Strategic Engagement Employee Resource Group.

"The New Black" takes an in depth look at Maryland’s marriage equality debate during the 2012 elections.  Captured on film are the voices of activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage.  An examination of homophobia in the black community’s institutional pillar, the black church, also is covered through several interviews in the film.

"Oftentimes, it drives a wedge between us and our families, especially when it comes to the black LGBT community as many of us do come from . . . religion,” said Phylicia Thomas, a Howard University student attending the screening.  Thomas went on to explain how young people deal with LGBT issues within families, “It affects us financially. Many times the family will cut this child off or they’ll begin to stop supporting the child financially and the child will be on their own.”

"The New Black" shows that different segments of society whether older, younger, male, female, professionals or students are grappling with a range of LGBT issues

“I think the vast majority of people don’t really see color in LGBT equally.  They don’t see its impact in every culture, every ethnicity,” said Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, executive director and CEO at the National Black Justice Coalition and one of the advocates featured in "The New Black."

During a panel discussion following the movie screening, Lettman-Hicks went on to discuss how LGBT issues affect the 50+ population. “The elder community has lived through it all. They’ve lived through the civil rights movement.  They’ve lived through the challenges that we have faced in society on a range of spectrums no matter what generation you’re from or your ethnicity.  The elder population has a different viewpoint of civil rights. What this film does . . . it helps normalize the conversation as to why LGBT concerns are a civil rights issue.”

A few attendees like Jamie Alston, a financial analyst from Clinton, MD, were pleasantly surprised to learn that AARP was one of the sponsors for the screening.

“I found out about the movie through my partner and she shared the information with me. We made a commitment to come tonight to learn more about the subject matter. Alston continued with how "The New Black" affected her. “The movie was phenomenal, very passionate, and very real.  It’s very real for where we are in 2014, where we’re going beyond 2014 and on to the 22nd century.”

(Photo-from left: At the podium is Robyn Motley, senior vice president and general manager for AARP Media and seated is Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director and CEO at the National Black Justice Coalition and one of the advocates featured in "The New Black."

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