Every time I’ve seen Moonlight, I’ve called–or struggled to call–the first great love of my life. I want to tell him to watch it. I guess I’ve already told him in some way. We’re friends. We’re collaborators. I love him. I resent him. I hate him. I forgive him. I forget him.
I see Moonlight and I remember.
This film will be an emotional roller coaster for anyone who was once a gay black boy. Your mileage may vary.
I have been asking my straight male friends to go see this film as soon as possible. I have seen it twice now. I want them to know.
I write the love that I want to see. I write the love that I want to have. I write the love I thought I had sixteen years ago.
I am 37. I know what I am doing with every facet of my life except this.
The human brain is not fully developed until at least age 25, and I believe that. I want so desperately to believe that the love I fell in sixteen years ago could be that impulsive, basketball and pledge boots love that became Adrian and Isaiah from my novels, that could have grown into the Barack and Michelle of the black gays. I want to believe, also, that the bloody, transformative love between Justin and Dante in my last novel, could have been based in that kernel of love I once felt.
And the poems that I look back on. I am ashamed. I am embarrassed. The lack of development in my brain is evident in the simple verse and histrionics, but what can you tell a 21-year old who’d had his first taste?
Moonlight wrecked me. The actors, superb in any way, portrayed the kind of romance that I want:
No one looks at me. That’s what this feels like.
Ashton Sanders (Chiron) was my favorite actor. Walk with me… he gave the kind of performance that Cynthia Erivo gave as Celie in Broadway’s The Color Purple revival. With his body, he became Chiron. Every walk, every tear, every mumble. I believed him as I believed her, every toe point and frown.
What about love?
I believe Moonlight to be a love story, more than it is a story about mass incarceration, drug addiction, bullying, or homophobia–yet it is all of those things, too. It has to be.
What about tears when you’re happy?
I’ve seen Moonlight twice now. The second time, I saw how the actors looked at each other and I believed them and I wanted to be looked at that way.
Last week, I thought someone looked at me like that.
And I thought that perhaps not even he ever looked at me like that.
But I don’t think it was anything, really. I think it was just a moment that I wanted to see, that somehow my hand pushed the planchette to the answer I wanted to see at that moment.
I write these moments. I watch these moments. Thank you, Barry Jenkins. Thank you, Tarell McCraney.
But I do not live these moments and I don’t know that I can.
Posted without revisions and with all due anxiety.