Lyrik London Celebrates Black Queer Men, Challenges Effemiphobia in Stunning Film ‘BLACK BOI MAJIK’
Lyrik London is not interested in being the token gay man for heterosexual consumption, nor is he interested in dimming his light, his strut, his speech, or his art to make others comfortable. To paraphrase the great Black lesbian poet Audre Lorde, he insists on defining himself for himself, rather than being crunched into other people’s fantasies and eaten alive.
The Atlanta-based choreographer and director of the short dance film, “BLACK BOI MAJIK,” is broadening the definition of what it means to be a Black man in America in a visually stunning 36-minute film that rejects rigid definitions of Black masculinity, and seeks to empower those among us who fail to meet this expectation but are no less powerful.
Shot over two months at various locations throughout Atlanta, London, who serves as choreographer, director, and also narrates the semi-autobiographical film, utilizes his voice as the film’s antagonist—“Kings don’t shine, they suffer,” “Black boys don’t dance, they play basketball,” London can be heard saying against the backdrop of a group of Black male dancers of various body sizes and shades of brown.
“Like, that’s the only goal or the only thing as Black men that we’re capable of doing—playing sports? Who made that up? Who started that bullshit? It’s these man-made stereotypes and pressures, and some guys end up falling…living their whole lives into it,” said London. “ I want people to let Black men be creative and stop trying to tell us that all we can be is athletes.”
Or the gay side-kick, another stereotype that London rejects and works to offer an alternative in the imagery he presents in “BLACK BOI MAJIK,” where Black queer men are centered and celebrated in their fullness instead of being a punch-line.
“A lot of times we play in the background; we’re the designers, the hairstylists, we do the makeup and we’re the best friends, we’re the shopping buddies,” he said. “And sometimes we subconsciously allow ourselves to play that role and we diminish who we are and diminish our power and become that person. And for me to be who I want to be in the industry that just isn’t going to work,” said London.
A native of Nashville, TN, London has been working as a dance creative in Atlanta for 11 years. He tells The Reckoning that he’s grateful that he didn’t sacrifice the quality of his film by rushing the creative process as so many current filmmakers tend to do.
“It took us two months to rehearse and film and we did it throughout. We would learn it [the choreography], get it, film, then go to the next one [routine],” he said. “I’m so glad about that. It taught me the power of how much more you can get from taking your time. We’re not used to that in this day and age because everything is so quick,” said London.
A child of the 90s and an astute observer of pop culture, London says one of his priorities while choreographing and shooting the film was to bring back a level of freedom in the choreography for Black male dancers that abruptly disappeared and was replaced by hyper-masculine movement that scoffed at any hint of femininity.
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