The Cypher Avenue team recently went to a screening of “The DL Chronicles: Episode Thomas.” The film was the opening night feature at Maurice Jamal’s Mix Fest International Film Festival in Atlanta, GA.
It has been years since we last saw an episode of The DL Chronicles. I was a little nervous and hoped Episode: Thomas lived up to the standards that the creators (Deondray Gossett and Quincy LeNear) had set with their previous episodes. I am happy to report I was not let down.
I felt reassured and comforted within the first minutes of the film because the characters:
Were not the typical black gay stereotypes you see in other films and web series.
Had a life that existed outside of their sexuality.
Were over 30 / 35 years of age (Yes black gay men can exist in film past their 20’s).
Were mature and established (living single without multiple roommates).
Were masculine. (The masculine characters were more than just an object to be obtained).
Performances were conducted by REAL actors…you know the ones who can actually act!?
The film centers on Thomas (Gabriel Corbin), a paralyzed firefighter who was injured while trapped in a burning building. His caretaker Steven (Johanny Paulino), is there to assist and teach Thomas on how to be independent and self reliant. Lastly, there’s Columbus (Ricardo Delarosa) who is Thomas’ former co-worker and best friend. Columbus also lives in the same building as Thomas.Now that Thomas has become paralyzed; his days are spent drinking, loathing and reflecting on all the things he can no longer do. For instance, he would love to take a trip to Paris but feels he can’t do it as a paraplegic. I got a sense that because Thomas could no longer immerse himself and hide behind his work; he could no longer ignore and suppress his sexuality and wanting the love of a man.
This film features no over the top salacious sex scenes just to pander to an over/under sexed gay audience but does feature men wanting to share love and be allowed to share intimacy.What happens when a good story, good directing, good acting and cinematography come together? You have men on screen saying “I love you” and it sounds and feels sincere to the audience. This reassures the gay male mind that it is okay for men to love and be in love with one another.With all the accolades I can bestow, I do have some minor issues with the film. There is a sexual scene that I felt could have been a lot more sensual if the dream-scape shots were limited. Also being that the main character (Thomas) was basically a paralyzed recluse and had not left his home in six months, how was he able to maintain his perfect chiseled physique? I must admit, Episode Thomas did somewhat hit close to home for me. My partner has some chronic issues with his lower back and spin. There are days where he needs to wear a brace and take medications due to the severe and debilitating pain. Yet this does not stop him from enjoying and living his life.
Likewise, Episode Thomas is a relatable and believable story of coming to terms with your physical limitations while overcoming and not allowing one’s mental limitations to hinder them.It was very refreshing to see this film fill a void that has been missing from black gay cinema. I personally told the creators that I am glad they have set the bar so high with their body of work, but sad because I feel other black gay film makers will not be able to reach it.- Ocky
Octavius is a founder and editor of Cypher Avenue. He's here to help speak for us and show the world that masculine gay / bisexual men of color are not a part of the stereotypical gay normal that is seen and fed to the masses. No...we are a distinct breed, filled with character and pride. Cypher Avenue is here to show the world how we are different.