Have you ever seen two black men dance together on stage in a British production? I mean, together, not just at the same time? There are lots of black gay men in contemporary dance, right? So why so little Black Gay dance? Curators and programmers have been reluctant to break this silence, and we are the poorer for it. This erasure of unapologetic Black gay narratives from our stages was one of the key motivations behind BlackOutUK’s support of Gerrard Martin’s ‘B’.
Sunday’s performance of B, as part of the And What Queer Arts Festival, moved some of the capacity audience at Rich Mix to tears. Others did not quite know where to look when they witnessed the raw nature of the passion enacted by Gerrard and Brandon on the stage. Nods of recognition, were followed by gasps of anger. Confusion for some, was swiftly followed by a sense of resolution as the performance reached its climax in a display of intimacy that for many fulfilled a longing that had been unspoken – a recognition that in spite of taking a road less travelled, in spite of the obstacles of toxic masculinity, sexual objectification, public respectability, and religious denial – an intimacy that makes all the challenges of a Black queer life worthwhile, is attainable.
B is challenging production. Challenging to an audience of Black gay men, as well as to society as a whole. The tone of the post-show discussion showed the range of emotions raised and the depth of feeling that Gerrard’s’ choreography encouraged. Even with Monday morning commutes looming, people didn’t want to go home – there’s much more to talk about.
We’d love more people to have the chance to see it. If you were there to witness the performance, take a couple of minutes to let us know what you thought, below or on Facebook; it will help to collect your thoughts on the production to share with theatre programmers and potential funders for the next stage of the project.
As Sunday night showed us, it’s also good to express ourselves, to dance, to talk, to share, to be, to B.