I was reviewing the Cypher Avenue Youtube channel thinking about the podcasts of yore that have since been removed (for valid reasons) when I noticed that the short film Animal Drill has over 1.2 million views and close to 300 comments.

6 years ago, Cypher Ave introduced the short to our audience. Site creator Nick Delmacy accurately summed up the short by stating:

“Its rare that we find a film, television or web series featuring black gay characters that breaks from the typical stereotypes and story cliches (a group of best gay friends sharing laughs and tears as they look for sex & love). The rare times you’ve seen us share videos featuring black gays breaking the norm, the films were (almost always) from non-black filmmakers. The short film, Animal Drill, proves to be no exception to the rule.

Directed by Patrick Murphy, this deep, complicated, aggressively raw short film masterfully weaves manhood, masculinity, homosexuality and acceptance all in 22 short minutes. The film achieves this without having the narrative be entirely about ‘being gay’ or looking for a boyfriend. Taking place in the world of high school basketball, Animal Drill tells the story of a black gay son, struggling with his sexuality, who tries out for the varsity team in an attempt to repair his relationship with his disapproving father. He faces adversity for being gay on the court, in his home and within himself.”

From our Youtube channel, a couple of comments stood out in their passion and commentary.  Even the main character’s father Mr. Jackson (played by Floyd Marshall) left an insightful comment as well. Check out the short and a couple of the comments below.

Toney Davis: Real nigga shit …

Floyd Marshall: The intensity on this set was ridiculous. We weren’t allowed to talk to each other while filming. The fight scene left me black and bruised for about a week. I think some people  missed the point of what Patrick was trying to get across. He wanted acceptance and as his father I wanted conformity. Squash down what you are and conform to what is societies “norm.” Now think about this, every day you go to school, you come home, pressure and ridicule from both sides. He finally does what he thinks will make me proud and I trash the one thing he values which is himself. Me throwing away the bracelet basically meant I was throwing him away and he snapped. Was it right? I don’t know, but he made choices for himself for the first time. Hope that helps.

Lavish C: God people, I’m reading the comments and everyone’s saying how violent it is. Yes it is violent but every gay story doesn’t involve faith trust and pixie dust, stories like this are very common in the black community.

Amen-Ra Tehuti: it’s not about providing an answer to homophobia; it’s about the reality that same-gender loving men are already in a violent fight, at which point the only option is to fight back.  This is the reality for many gay black working class men; if you don’t have to walk in these shoes you shouldn’t be judgemental of those who survive it. 

Leon Norman: Pathetic! His only way to prove his “manhood” was to show how tough he was?! He only got angry enough to fight back when the guy called him a queer?! And then he disrespects himself by referring to himself as a faggot and now we are to believe he has come into his own??? I think I know where this movie was trying to go but it didn’t get there for me. He was just as ignorant as his pops, coach and team mates.  That attitude is the reason why pro sport locker rooms are the way they are today. And why men SHOULDN’T come out of the closet. I’m not sure how a 16 to 23 yr.. old watches this short film and learns anything other then if you can kick ass and are the toughest guy around you can play for the team and your pops will love you. If you can’t fight….I GUESS YOUR STILL A “FAG”?  smh

mcmanpa: Boy, this was tough to watch: the film asked me to accept that beating the daylights out of someone was necessary. I don’t believe that; I’ve never believed that. Robert Aldrich said something similar in his film “The Longest Yard”.  But in that film Paul Crewe (Burt Reynolds) had no choice; he was in prison and had no out. Here, Buck Jackson had a choice; he could have rejected the terms of entry to the squad. Sometimes the way to challenge a paradigm is by not accepting it. Btw, top production values, really well made.

Jonathan Dough: Great acting but a disappointing and boring story. To be a hero, you reject proving you can beat somebody up. You rise above that and reject what others expect of you, not live up to their expectations to prove you’re okay. Better if the character had said his last lines (to his dad) at the beginning of the story. No need for the fighting. The first time he yaps about the bracelet, deliver the line: I’m who I am… deal with it. And walk away. Sad that the guy thought he had to go through all that silly “I’m so masculine” stuff. “I can beat people up! So I’m okay.” Ugh.

Lucian Mccarthy: In Australia there’s practically no representation of black gay and/or black indigenous men on tv, infact there’s veey little black indigenous people represented on mainstream tv period! I feel like the issues surrounding homosexuality for indigenous men in Australia and African American men are very similar so, it would be  wonderful to one day soon, see “black gay indigenous men” on tv Show’s in Australia that adress the social issues that we face and deal with in our community! Australian media and film makers should take their cue and learn from films and tv series like this one. Respect!

One Love: Deep show rite hure… Nobody is perfect, and nobody deserves to be perfect. Nobody has it easy, Everybody has issues. You never know what folkz are going through. So pause before you start judging, criticizing, or mocking others. Everybody is fighting their own unique war …I say that to say The key to Being Happy is knowing you have the power to choose what to accept and what to let go…

David Ross: This was amazing! symbols of masculinity throughout: The clapping was kind of haunting, tribal and animalistic, the violence in the ‘animal drill’, just having steak for dinner. a son who happens to be gay and the crap he puts up with to prove his masculinity to please his father and the mental anguish as a result and it’s ‘good’ the anguish went towards the bully of a captain and his father. The father was the coward, not the other way around. I forget sometimes for some gay black teen boys the mental anguish they may experience from having to not be their true selves or their parents berating them because they’re gay – especially if their parent doesn’t say it, they know what it is. As if being gay means you’re not a man. And the weird thing was that he wasn’t feminine at all and it was still such a great mental battle, damn near making living with his father unbearable.

iseektruth64: I am a 48 yr old gay black man.  I wish my father had pushed me that far…I think I would have gotten much much farther in life.  To have been able to stand up to him, even physically and tell him, “I am a fucking faggot and there is nothing you can do about it!”  That would have been glorious.