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Six Degrees of Separation (1993)

PAUL POITIER as portrayed by Will Smith in Six Degrees of Separation (1993)

Unlike the previous entries I didn't encounter this work until I was full grown. It's a movie adapted from a play inspired by real life events, and the story is rich. In short, a Black gay hustler scams some wealthy white people by saying he's Sidney Poitier's son. It's a good film, and I recommend you see it if you haven't. While watching you'll notice a kiss between Will Smith and Anthony Michael Hall, but don't be fooled. They didn't actually kiss. Will decided not to do it based on the guidance of Denzel Washington and the Hollywood folks used some camera trickery to allude to it. Apparently Mr. Washington told Mr. Smith it would derail his fast rising career. I can't say that Denzel was wrong, perse. Will Smith is straight and I can imagine folks back then may have had a hard time separating art from reality. It's okay to "play a gay character", but it's not okay to "do gay things" like kiss and have sex and you know, be gay. Will says he regrets the decision, and there is a random video him kissing David Letterman on the internet. He also has not played a gay character since. Maybe these things are related, maybe not? But let's just for a second imagine if Will would have taken that leap and locked lips in 1993. How might things be different now? Even in the "progressive" world we live in, many straight Black male actors are hesitant to play gay roles, and rarely kiss or show intimacy on screen when they do. More importantly and personally, I wonder the impacts that kiss might have had on the Black gay boys, particularly the ones who are very good looking, very talented actors who can play "traditional" leading men. Might more of them be empowered to stand in the fullness of themselves? I mean it's 2020 and I still have actor friends who struggle with how they present their sexuality to the world -- on and off screen -- because of how it might impact their career possibilities...


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