Remember the documentary we told you about last year? It’s finally here and I’m happy to say it delivers as promised!
Dear Dad follows eight Black gay/same gender loving men tasked with writing a letter to their father. They discuss aspects of manhood and how their relationship with their father (or lack thereof) helped shaped their identity.
Director Chase Simmons assembled a great cast including Kevin Dwayne (one of my favorite YouTubers) and Gee Smalls (spoiler alert: who had a wife?!) They all have different stories, but it’s interesting to see common themes including expectations of masculinity, religion and internalized homophobia. One of the most interesting things to me was (if my count is right) only one cast member openly came out of the closet to their father. I remember in my masters program I was amazed by how many of the guys were outed by other people growing up.
Being the sex master I am, if I had any critique, I wanted to hear more about the guy’s sex life. I know some of the cast members are HIV+ from their other work; it would’ve been nice to hear questions regarding whether the relationship with their dad contributed to sexual risk behavior and sexual initiations. But like Ryan and Matthew from ADTV (who’s similar videos have subsequently been taken down) I can understand people don’t want to be the face of HIV (especially if they don’t work in public health.
Simmons adds layers to the narrative that are not only effective, but also relevant. The men have to read their letters at a location relevant their story. Some also talk about possibly giving their letters to their father, which opens another important discussion and healing.
Dear Dad should be required viewing for anyone who works with or loves Black gay/bisexual men. I’ve seen several works exploring this phenomenon in heterosexual identified Black men (Brick City being the example that sticks out), but few dealing with queer men.
You can watch Dear Dad at deardad.tv
And HuffPost Live had a great segment with Simmons, Akili and some of the cast to discuss the project. You can watch it here.