TV Review - Holler If You Hear Me

Clay Cane first came to my attention while hosting his eponymous radio program on WWRL. He's a writer and journalist who is currently the Entertainment Editor for BET.com. He's contributed a number of movie reviews to that cable channel's website. However, this documentary is his first attempt at actually making a movie and not just reviewing one. It's titled after a Tupac Shakur song, a phrase which has been historically used as a rallying cry in the black community. What Cane is rallying here though is the issue implied in this show's subtitle, "Black and Gay in the Church." His focus is on young, black and openly gay persons struggling with those, mainly in their families, who can't reconcile their faith with homosexuality.

Cane centers this documentary in Atlanta, Georgia, and a homeless shelter called "Lost-N-Found" that caters to LGBT youth. He talks to the black man who runs the shelter and to black teenagers and older who stay there. Cane basically sits them down and lets them speak their experiences. They talk about what led them to the shelter and how they're dealing with it all.

Homelessness for LGBT youth, especially LGBT youth of color, happens when parents kick them out. Fueling the rejection from parents in many cases is their faith or anti-gay teachings in the church. Cane, therefore, interviews the founders of Vision Church of Atlanta and tries to get at the root and the particulars of how and why.

Daniel Karslake won a GLAAD Award for his documentary For the Bible Tells Me So (2007), which is an in-depth analysis of scripture and does an amazing if not the best job reconciling Christian faith and homosexuality. It includes a black family, including Tonia Poteat, a lesbian activist as well as the late Peter J. Gomes, a black, gay, Baptist minister and Harvard professor.

Cane's efforts here don't amount to the great work of Karslake, but he does provide a great platform for more black, LGBT people to tell their stories as it relates to the church. Given that Cane culminates with a message of empathy and love, providing this platform is really enough that he has to do.

However, Cane bookends the doc with the story of a lesbian couple about to get married. They are Tonyka and Jonita, two lesbians who met and fell in love at the church. Cane doesn't talk to the families of any of the other youths, but he does talk to Tonyka's mother.

It's a great interview, mainly because the mom named Sharolyn is very engaging. The conversation never gets heated or even contentious, but Cane does ask challenging questions and she responds in kind. She never dodges any question, and she comes across as very compassionate, yet still anti-gay. It's intriguing to watch.

The second best interview is with Dr. Reverend Kenneth Samuel who basically offers a rebuttal to Sharolyn. He's equally engaging and just as knowledgeable about the Bible. You almost wish his interview were longer.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but for general audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Available exclusively on BET.com.

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