“2 Black Boys” is based on the poetry of Giovanni Adams and inspired by the play “Love is a Dirty Word” developed by Adams and Becca Wolff in the summer of 2015.
At that time, several videos went viral that showed the killings of unarmed black men and women in cities across the country.
Adams has said that “the perceived abject otherness of blackness was being made visible in the most horrific fashion. To be born black in America is to live with a heightened awareness of your out-of-placeness and the vulnerability that comes along with it. The spectacle of black death gone viral got me thinking about my own complex relationship to love and home.”
“2 Black Boys” and “Love Is a Dirty Word” both seek to remove the filter of “other” that too often stigmatizes black-queer romantic life.
“Is there such a thing as being too different — too dirty to love?” Adams has asked. “That’s the seed of the story, a meditation of my childhood memories in Mississippi. It traces my journey home to reconnect with the little boy buried inside me…a liberating act of love.”
I was a creative on “Love is a Dirty Word.” As a filmmaker watching Gio nightly onstage, I felt that the language of his writing and performance danced the line of self-reflection like a song, opening a window into the rich beauty of his experiences. He explored questions of safety and the relationship to love and home while also navigating the boundary lines that we draw in talking about identity.
Adams himself sparkles in life and onscreen, radiating light. I felt it was important for his poetry to be the voice pacing the narrative. The language and song in the film float between past and present, childhood and intimacy, and emotion and metaphor. Each passage of text was so thick with meaning you could spread the words like butter. Rhythm in the phrases and the original music composed for the film punctuate like a heartbeat, and the dance sequences were derived out of those patterns — the pulse and void for what cannot be spoken.
As both poet and muse, Adams’ work navigates the dialogue of his own story and reminds us that in discussing identity, we all can be many things at once. In art and life, there isn’t a clear line or box when we talk about who we love or who we are.
“2 Black Boys” will screen 8:30 p.m. Sunday, March 8, as part of Outfest Fusion’s Shorts: The Art of Self-Expression.