Angie Harvey is not jumping out of her chair to call herself a filmmaker.
Tell that to the accolades that the Cleveland native is racking up for “Black Rainbow Love,” her first documentary.
“Black Rainbow Love” shares the stories of 27 lovers in the Black LBGTQ+ community. Each tale reflects the real lives of real people from a community whose culturally relevant stories aren’t being told, seen, shared or discussed.
The film has already been an official selection for a dozen film festivals across the country, including the Cleveland Urban Film Festival on September 17.
Catching up with Angie Harvey
The Buckeye Flame caught up with Harvey to talk about the importance of the film and how Ohio has influenced her cinematic approach.
Q: Let’s get right to it: how important is it to tell Black LGBTQ+ stories right now?
A: Oh my goodness, it’s very important. But more than important, it’s necessary. Someone having representation—people who look like them, live like them, and love like them—is just something that unfortunately has not been seen on a global scale, which is mind-boggling to me.
Look, I’ve lived in the community. My mother is a lesbian. My sister is a lesbian. My daughter is a lesbian. So I’ve been in it, but there are people who have not had nearly the exposure that I have had.
Q: I would imagine that your film is increasing awareness of this representation to a wider audience.
A: It is! I have grandmothers who are now more informed about their children. My neighbor came to a screening. My pastor—my pastor!—who is a white, straight male who was raised to believe that homosexuality was a sin and that we would all burn in hell. Now he wants to show the film to his leadership and is in ongoing communication with me about we can be more like Jesus, who wasn’t judgmental or condemning. So the film has already exceeded my expectations in just the conversations that have been started.
Q: How much does being an Ohioan impact how you made the film?
A: I want to be clear: this is my first film. I’m a social worker. I’m a therapist. I’m a motivational speaker. I do retreats. This was not in my wheelhouse. But after I think about it, I’ve been in people’s business for the past 20+ years. I know that if “Black LGBTQ” was a corporation, I know all of upper management, I know most of their vendors, and I’m known by most of their employees.
So who better to trust with your story and your experiences than me? Ohio is who raised this girl. I went to Cleveland State University. I went to Case Western Reserve. I graduated from Streetsboro. I was the first Black student to graduate and I was the only Black student in that school. I know what it’s like to be the only one in the room. Ohio taught me what I know to be able to do this thing, including the tenacity to be the “only one in the room.”
Q: When the lights come up after all these screenings and people sit with what they have seen, where do you want their minds to go?
A: I’m so glad you asked that, Ken. I didn’t want to just make a film where people are only coming to be entertained. I never ever dispense knowledge without giving you an assignment, asking you to grow from the story.
And STORY is an acronym that means to Seek, to Taste what you’re looking at, to be Open and vulnerable, to Recognize what you’re seeing in your life, and to Yield and grow from what you’ve seen.
We don’t grow as humanity when we keep our stories to ourselves. Straight people, white people, gay people, everybody is going to walk away with the a-ha. Everybody will see themselves or someone that they know and that will spark the conversations that are needed to continue to grow in maturity and knowledge and education. That’s what’s is so needed right now.
Ignite Action:To learn more about “Black Rainbow Love”—including upcoming Ohio screenings—visit the film’s official site.
This story was originally published in The Buckeye Flame and republished here with permission.