“Queer At MoreHouse College with Comic Books & Feminism”: Yolo Interview’s Activist & Filmmaker Daniel Edwards

 

This past year in Atlanta I had the privilege of meeting upcoming Film-maker, Queer Feminist Activist  and former Co-President of Morehouse College’s Safe Space, Daniel Edwards.  Daniel and I met at “Pride Week” at Spelman College, where he spoke on a panel that addressed homophobia in the Atlanta University Center. Daniel’s energy immediately intrigued me, and after exchanging emails he introduced me to his amazing short film work, which I found equally as fascinating.

Most captivating to me was his interview of Melvin Mohammed, a man who has bought a house, several cars and has made a living for over a decade by selling bags of fruit for $2.00 on a corner in the West End Atlanta neighborhood.

When I lived in Atlanta, I actually bought fruit from him several times! This interview put me in the mind of Zora Neale Hurston, who once sold hotdogs at a park just to record accurately “the way in which the black people spoke.” It carried the same spirit of reverence and celebration of blackness. Not coincidentally, Daniel and Zora are share the same zodiac sign of Capricorn.

One-Man Market from Daniel Edwards on Vimeo.

Equally intriguing, was his  short film “By Any other Name” a documentary that is a portrait of  Cindy Lutenbacher, Ph.D., a white English professor at Morehouse College and her mixed race adopted family.

By Any Other Name – Part 1 from Daniel Edwards on Vimeo.

Interview:

Yolo: How do you define queer? And why do you/ or do you choose to identify as queer rather than or/in conjunction with identifying as gay? Or do you choose to identify with any of them at all?

Daniel:

I define queer as anything that is not easily readable. Anything that keeps you guessing because it’s constantly evolving.  Queer for me ranges from personality to sexuality.  I often use queer and gay interchangeably.

I know gay, queer, etc. are White-constructed socio-political terms that did not include people of color.  However, that’s what I came to know first and how I came into my own.  The rainbows, the “Out and Proud” consciousness may have came from people that do not look like me, but I am affirmed.  It’s an affirmation that I’ve had to create in my own Black community because we don’t readily give it to each other.


Yolo: Whats Your favorite comic book superhero/heroine? And what do you think is your psychological connection to them? How do you see yourself reflected in their character etc?


Daniel:This isn’t a fair question!! lol.

My favorite hero is Ultimate Spiderman and my heroine is Storm.

In the “Ultimate” storyline, Spiderman was drawn up as a small, skinny, 15 year old that lived with a single parent who had a side hustle to help support his home.  If that isn’t a Black Classic, I don’t know what is lol.  Storm, simply, is a powerful Queen.  Just like all the important women in my life.


Yolo: Recently Marvel Comics has got alot of attention from it’s choice to make Spiderman Blatino ( Black & Latino) As an avid comic book fan, what do you think of this choice?

Daniel: I’ve always been able to relate to the themes in the Spider-man storyline even though it was a white face being used to tell the story.  I’m glad the writers decided to try something different.  They definitely went for it when they decided to make him a minority lol.  I’m interested to see how they develop the themes of Spider-man with a younger character and the different realities of all the minority statuses they applied to him.  If it’s anything like Spider-man: India, it’ll be great

 

Yolo: Have you experienced a lot of diversity in regards to race and sexuality in the comics you read? What titles would you recommend?

The only title I have read that has a minority as the lead is Black Panther and Batwoman is a leading character that is lesbian, other than that there is a scattered presence across Marvel and DC Comics.  I don’t believe the characters get as much shine as they deserve.

For anyone that’s interested: Black Panther, Falcon, War Machine, Batwoman, and Young X-Men are  great characters.

 

Yolo: How you think being raised by three women has impacted your relationship to the world and to feminism?

Daniel: The women that raised me did not gender my teaching.I was first and foremost taught to be an adult I never heard “a man is supposed to do…”

I remember my grandma telling me ” I don’t want you leaving this house having to depend on no woman to do anything for you.”  So, I learned everything from sewing to changing the oil in a pick-up truck.  I am an active listener because of my three parents.

They taught me that no one is above or below me, just at different places in their journey.

As for feminism, I guess I fit the mold of how a male feminist would act so that is a label that I happened to acquire along the way.  I’m really just being me and respectingall those I come in contact with.


Yolo: As the President Of Morehouse’s Safe Space  have you ever encountered prejudice from black heterosexual women in the AUC? Are there any ways in which you have experienced Heterosexual Black Women in the AUC attacking/putting down or ridiculing black queer/gay men on the campus?

I’ve encountered more false pre-conceived notions about gay men more than anything.  A lot of women like to talk about how I don’t fit a stereotype. 

I did have one girl ask me to be her “gay best friend” and I told her no, that I would just be her friend lol. Some passion arises when there is mention of more feminine-acting gay men.  Most Black women want to know where that persona comes from because if it is supposed to be a reflection of what women are/act then it’s offensive..

 

Yolo: What is your spiritual vehicle or do you have one? How do you identify or do not identify spiritually? And if you do have a spiritual perspective, how do you see your spirituality operating in the context of your film work/activism etc?

Daniel: I was raised in the Christian church.  It’s where I got a lot of my values regarding how to treat people and how to be a good person for God.  That was when I was religious lol.  Now I think I’m a step further by claiming my spirituality and personal connection to God.  A relationship that’s not based on any stipulations of my creation.  My spirituality is present in my activism because I am Actively renewing my mind everyday, educating, and livng fearlessly to the best of my abilities.  With my filming, it’s all about moving those in the margins to the center of the page (or the frame in this case lol), in order to highlight the divine creation of as many as possible. Altruism is my spiritual base.

 

Yolo: What do you feel like is your purpose artistically and creatively for your time here on earth? Why do you think you came to earth as opposed to somewhere else?

Daniel: My purpose…..I think my purpose in life is to help those around me in anyway I can.  Artistically, it’s to create life-changing, life-highligting, enlightening stories.  I believe in a higher self, a self that is connected to my past, present, and future.  A self that is connected to a higher power, a common thread between all life.

My freshman year, my brother Matthew and I had a conversation about not being meant for this Earth.  He called me an Old Soul and an Angel on Earth. That was a lot to take in then and it’s still a lot now lol, but I am here and I am going to do/be the best I can be.

———

Daniel is the current CEO of D.D.E Productions and can be contacted at edd_kmt_1789@msn.com

 

 

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5 Comments

  1. i love you daniel! you’re a gem and remind me of the promise morehouse offers to black men…and if so bold, to the world

  2. hey Yolo, thanks for this! very inspiring and a great combo of light-hearted, nurturing/grounding/sustaining, and deep & real conversation.

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