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“Truth Be Told” Review: Exploring Faith & Queerness in the Black Church

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Where to watch it? Currently playing the festival circuit after premiering at Outfest

Starring: Cedric the Entertainer, Tichina Arnold, Erica Campbell, David and Tamela Mann, Kev on Stage, and Billy Porter

Directed by: Nneka Onuorah

Intro: Truth be Told Review

Nneka Onuorah, an Emmy-winning director, has already won many hearts in the Black LGBTQ community with her storytelling skills – she's a real icon in the making! Her earlier projects, Same Difference and The Legend of the Underground, tackled themes like race, gender, and sexuality. And now her latest, Truth Be Told, bravely explores the intersection of faith and queerness in the Black community.

This doc covers everything – from the church's role in the Black experience to the personal religious journeys of big names like Billy Porter. It's an up-close and intimate look into the relationship between the Black church and the Black queer community. Freshly premiered at Outfest, we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at this monumental documentary. So, here's our breakdown of the highlights!

Civil Rights and Faith

The doc kicks off with some fire and brimstone sermons that can be a bit unsettling, like, “What did they just say?!” These speeches reveal the homophobic and misogynistic rhetoric in the church and sets the stage for a serious look at how the church's messages can both inspire and spread discrimination.

Then focus shifts to the history of the Black church, showing its profound impact on the civil rights movement. With glimpses of figures like Al Sharpton and President Obama, the doc shows how the church has been a rock-solid pillar in the fight for equal rights, like faith and activism teaming up to lift up the Black community. When we compare those inspiring images with the opening scenes and hear from members of the Black LGBTQ community who had to leave the church, the contrast is striking and eye-opening.

Black Church and LGBTQ+ Connection

Truth Be Told digs into the complex relationship between the Black church and the queer community. The film features heart-to-hearts with several Black LGBTQ+ individuals who once found comfort in the church. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that discrimination and homophobia from the congregation, and sometimes even their own family pushed them to leave their once cherished religious home.

These talks are mostly led by Pastor Pamm (but we'll get to her later), and they're like therapy sessions for many. It's amazing to see some serious healing going down right on the screen with Pamm's motivational words and self-love speeches. In these moments, Truth Be Told becomes so much more than just a film; it becomes a platform for Black LGBTQ+ voices to finally be heard. They share their own stories and experiences, and it's truly empowering to see their narratives take center stage.

The Lesbian Preacher

Pamela Williams, aka Pastor Pamm, is seriously becoming my favorite human! Her awesomeness shines brightly, not just through her rousing sermons, but in other ways too. The film captures her in a fiery debate with Jesse Lee Peterson, the anti-gay radio host. They clash big time on faith, queerness, and gender roles.

But even when Peterson throws out the most preposterous rhetoric, Pamm stays cool, calm, and full of love, like the pro she truly is. She brings such charisma to the documentary, and it's incredible to watch her in action.

Famous Faces

The film features some seriously impactful celebrity interviews, where they dive deep into the hearts and minds of influential figures within the Black community. Get ready to hear from the likes of Tamela Mann, Cedric the Entertainer, Erica Campbell, Meagan Good, and more, as they candidly share their thoughts on faith and community. The film deserves major props for how brilliantly it weaves all these voices together. It takes its exploration of the experiences and struggles within the Black church to a whole new level.

Billy Porter, NaQuita Elmore, and Dakota (Onuorah's cousin) are the true heroes of this documentary. Their profound narratives about abuse are both heart-wrenching and inspiring. The film beautifully documents the latter two's journey to healing, bringing on the waterworks as you witness their incredible strength and resilience in the face of such pain.

Final Thoughts: Truth be Told Review

Truth Be Told‘s unique mix of interviews, archival footage, music, and spoken word creates a captivating tapestry of voices and experiences. Despite its chaos, this journey sparks meaningful discussions about faith and spirituality. The film fearlessly delves into the difficult topic of homophobia in the Black church, igniting vital dialogues about its impact on individuals, families, and the community at large. Truth Be Told truly resonates as an effective conversation starter, touching the hearts of those who've faced similar struggles or know someone who has.

As a member of the Black LGBTQ community, I've never seen such a thoughtful exploration of these issues. I hope that this much-needed film will make a difference in the lives of many.

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Jaime Blanson
Jaime Blanson
Jaime Blanson is a seasoned filmmaker and storytelling wizard on a mission to amplify Black LGBTQ+ representation in pop culture. When they're not busy crafting content, you'll find them on a hunt for fresh Funkos to add to their expanding collection or championing the continued relevance of Tumblr.
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