Why Spike Lee's Gay Characters Are Problematic

Writing at the Huffington Post, Glennisha Morgan, a self-described "queer woman of color," says she doesn't think the filmmaker is homophobic, but that doesn't excuse his lackluster representation of LGBT people.  

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Spike Lee (Jason Szenes/Getty Images)

Writing at the Huffington Post, Glennisha Morgan, a self-described "queer woman of color," says she doesn't think the filmmaker is homophobic, but that doesn't excuse his lackluster representation of LGBT people. 

In the middle of the week, a writer and black gay rights activist known as Anti-Intellect tweeted his opinion about Spike Lee's 1988 film School Daze, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary. Speaking out about his feeling that School Daze is unbalanced and inaccurate, Anti-Intellect tweeted, "Some defend@SpikeLee's homophobia in School Daze saying Blacks were homophobic back then. Maybe so, BUT many Blacks were fighting back." Spike Lee tweeted back, "Not At Morehouse." ...

Honestly, I don't think Lee or his films are homophobic. Given that he played a huge role in helping Dee Rees move forward with her breakout film Pariah and has featured queer characters in several of his films, including She's Gotta Have ItShe Hate Me and Get On the Bus, I think he's possibly an ally and has definitely played a role in giving visibility to lesbian, bisexual and gay people. But as a fan of Lee's work, I must point out that a lot of his queer characters are very problematic. (I also think that Lee's notions about women are misconstrued and problematic, but that's a whole other blog post.)

For instance, in She's Gotta Have It, which tells the story of Nola Darling, a young, free, non-monogamous serial dater, the lesbian character, Opal, is portrayed as aggressive, predatory, thirsty, persuasive and dismissive. When I initially watched the film, I was just excited to see a black lesbian character in a film that was released in 1986. After giving it more thought, though, I couldn't help but think about how stereotypical and problematic her portrayal is. A lot of people tend to believe that lesbians are just man-hating, girlfriend-stealing, desperate women who can't wait to perform cunnilingus on every woman walking by them. Opal seems to fit that bill ...

Read Glennisha Morgan's entire piece at the Huffington Post.

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