By Max Jimenez
Novo Novus, an award winning multimedia company focused on producing content that highlights ethnic minorities within the LGBTQ community, aims to fuel an overdue dialogue on race relations in today’s LGBTQ community with their new film, The Breeding. The story centers round Thomas (Marcus Bellamy), a young artist whose obsession with a BDSM (bondage and discipline, sadism and masochism) leads to life altering consequences.
“The idea came from an art piece on Harmen van den Bogaert, a slave master in the pre-Civil War era, accused of sodomy with his slave,” explains Dane Joseph, the film’s writer. “The crime was punishable by death so master and slave fled and later died on the run, falling through a frozen lake.”
The artist envisioned their plight as a forbidden love story. Joseph felt it to be a problematic interpretation and began research on master-slave relationships. “It led to my discovering the BDSM (bondage and discipline, sadism and masochism) community, where racially charged situations and language are used during cross cultural sexual encounters,” he continues. “My mind began to wonder how people of color could reconcile that sort of behavior, considering the horrific past from which the practice stems.”
We spoke with Dane Joseph and his partners at Novo Novus, director Daniel Armando and executive producer Dwight Allen O’Neal, about their new film.
How prevalent is racism in the today’s LGBT community?
Daniel: Racism in the LGBT community is very real, both explicit and implicit.
It’s sometimes disguised as preference, but the subtext and racial undertones are clearly there.
Daniel: Exactly. It’s probably most prevalent on hookup apps like Jack’d and Grindr, where guys regularly post “No Blacks. No Asians. Whites only. Blacks only.” It’s problematic because it devalues our humanity.
In The Breeding, Thomas (played by Marcus Bellamy) is a young man of color who participates in BDSM. He’s not forced into it. It could even be said he’s obsessed by it.
Dane: His obsession is a metaphor for our entire country’s obsession with achieving the American ideal, the American Dream, which equals power. So Thomas’ obsession with Lee is an attraction to the power, the American dream and ideal that Lee represents.
Are minorities guilty of discriminating against other minorities, too?
Dane: Oh yes. In the film we try to show the different facets of fetishization. There are blacks fetishizing whites, whites fetishizing blacks, and lots of other metaphors in between.
How do fetishes based on race perpetuate harmful myths?
Daniel: The black Mandingo comes to mind, however, we would hate to over generalize as fetishes are so personal but when it comes to race itself being the fetish, you do have to question where those motives come from. We’re all human and we all have sexual fantasies, but we all should be respectful of each other and have a healthy sexual view of each other’s humanity. Historically speaking, whenever anyone is solely objectified and boiled down to sole characteristics, it can be problematic.
We need to discuss Marcus Bellamy. He currently sits in a jail cell awaiting trial for killing his 27-year-old boyfriend.
Dwight: Our prayers and hearts goes out to all affected by this tragic incident. It’s deeply saddening. The events happened quite a bit after we had already wrapped production on The Breeding.
Have you been able to piece together why such a promising young, Julliard-trained actor/dancer would throw it all away on a senseless act of violence?
Dwight: Not at all. We’re all still processing it.
What can we learn from Marcus’ and Thomas’ stories?
Daniel: If there’s a lesson to be learned from tragedies like these, it is that people should regularly check in with their minds, bodies and spirits remember who they are and who they can be. Losing sight of your true self can have tragic consequences.
The Breeding is available on DVD at fine distributors everywhere, and to buy/rent on the following platforms: iTunes, Amazon Instant, Google Play, Direct TV and On Demand through local cable providers. For more information, visit novonovus.com.