In the realm of romantic comedies, a glaring omission has long persisted: the representation of Black, queer love. Despite strides made in LGBTQ+ cinema, the genre's mainstream offerings have yet to fully embrace the humor and authenticity of these experiences.
A History of Invisibility
The history of Black queer cinema is a complex tapestry, often relegated to the fringes of mainstream media. While groundbreaking films like "Paris is Burning" (1990) and "The Watermelon Woman" (1996) made waves, they primarily focused on documenting the struggles and triumphs of their communities.
"I Think I Do" (1997), an indie film by Brian Sloan, sought to change this narrative. Featuring a gay will-they-won't-they relationship and an ensemble cast that includes Tuc Watkins and Guillermo Diaz, it premiered at the Frameline Film Festival and had a limited theatrical run.
Restoring a Lost Gem
Fast forward to 2024, and "I Think I Do" is being restored in 4K, set for release by Strand Releasing later this year. Despite its low rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it remains a significant piece of LGBTQ+ cinema history.
"This film was ahead of its time," says Diaz, reflecting on the movie's impact. "It brought together elements of comedy, romance, and friendship in a way that was both entertaining and genuine."
The Need for Authentic Representation
As we continue to navigate the evolving landscape of representation, the call for a genuine Black, queer rom-com grows louder. Such a film would not only reflect the lightness of queer identities but also challenge traditional norms and stereotypes.
"It's important to see ourselves in these stories," says Watkins. "Not just as tokens or sidekicks, but as fully realized characters with depth and complexity."
In the end, the power of cinema lies in its ability to reflect our world back at us, complete with all its diversity and complexity. By embracing Black, queer narratives in romantic comedies, we can foster a more inclusive and authentic form of storytelling.
As "I Think I Do" prepares for its re-release, it serves as a reminder of how far we've come and how much further we have to go. Here's hoping that new audiences will appreciate the film and its historical significance in the context of LGBTQ+ cinema.