Patrik-Ian Polk, the creator of the black Gay television series, Noah’s Arc. He calls himself the Gay Tyler Perry. While the comparison seriously breaks down on many levels, it does fit if we’re talking about the perpetuation of stereotypes. The work we’ve seen from Polk thus far would make many people think that all black gays are soft, feminine, promiscuous men who identify more closely to women and female related interests. His new film The Skinny, set to be released April 6th 2012, looks to be continuing the trend. Is the flamboyant fem stereotype any better or worse than the HIV-spreading Down Low stereotype perpetuated by others?
 
To be honest, I don’t have a problem with Polk. It is not his responsibility to make films representative of all Gays. In all likelihood, he is making the type of films that he himself would love to see. And he’s not alone. These films are confidence builders for feminine men and there are many masculine men that love feminine men and their fashion-fueled, finger-snapping culture. The main ambivalence on my end comes from knowing that films like The Skinny will be seen and perpetuate the stereotypes of black Gay men, not only to the masses but also to Gay men themselves. I believe that many young masculine men confused about their sexuality and lacking Gay friends will see these type of films and say:

“I think I may be Gay…Is THIS is how I’m supposed to behave? Are THESE the type of friends I should seek out?”

Some of them may begin to adopt certain mannerisms in an attempt to blend in…while others may fall deeper into a shell since they can’t relate to that lifestyle.

But all of that should be discussed in a different post. What we do know now though is that out of all the current openly black Gay filmmakers actually telling stories about Gay men of color, Patrik-Ian Polk’s work has been the most quality and consistent thus far. The trailer for The Skinny looks crisp and well photographed with seemingly no major audio issues (a problem for many independent black filmmakers). The cast looks great and based on what we can see they seem to be able to hold their own given the material. Also it appears Polk’s title for the film has a double meaning since no one in the entire trailer looks out-of-shape or Fat at all.

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THE SKINNY tells the story of five Brown University classmates who reunite one year after graduation for Gay Pride weekend in New York City. Through three action-packed days of sex, drama, secrets, lies & laughter- these five college pals discover just how much can change in one short year.
Nick D