In the documentary “Shape Up,” gay filmmaker Derrick L. Middleton explores an oft ignored issue in the Black community, homophobia and hyper-masculinity in barbershops. This documentary has not only been winning film festivals, it even had its’ premiere at the White House last month.
Back when I used to get regular professional haircuts, I often heard the Black barbers make casual homophobic jokes and comments. They seem either oblivious to the possibility that gay men were in the shop waiting for haircuts, or they just didn’t care.
In an interview with OUT Magazine about the film, director Derrick L. Middleton added:
“No matter what black neighborhood you go to, any black neighborhood, you’re going to find two things—a church and a barbershop,” he says. “And the barbershop for black males is about as sacred as the church. It’s one of the only safe spaces for black men today, where they can talk about politics or sports and speak completely openly. But these same black men just don’t realize they have gay men in those spaces—that we’ve always been in those spaces. We’ve been there in silence, and we want to be a part of this space as well.”
No word on when the full documentary will be released to the general public, but for now you can view the trailer here: