When author James Earl Hardy released his debut novel B-Boy Blues on July 1, 1994, he sent out a clarion call for Black gay men who, here to fore, felt invisible. This was the era of hypermasculine hip hop music, the center of the AIDS Crisis, and the rise of downlow culture. B-Boy Blues was a sign of the times and Hardy masterfully told the tale of Black gay existence at the epicenter of culture wars, classism, respectability politics, and homophobia. B-Boy Blues became an instant classic.
In 2021, actor Jussie Smollett chose to shift his focus to film in the midst of navigating charges by the Chicago Police Department. (Smollett was released from jail on March 16, 2022.) In his directorial debut, Smollett brought Hardy’s B-Boy Blues to life in May 2022, BET+ announced that they would be airing Mitchell and Raheim’s gay romance on the Black content streaming service. Once again, B-Boy Blues was shifting the narrative and securing its place in the Black queer cultural cannon. —E.W.