Congratulations to these two amazing writers and artists.
Winners for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize were announced yesterday. Among the group of winners were two Black gay men: a poet and a playwright.
First, Michael R. Jackson won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his Off-Broadway Musical A Strange Loop. The musical was based off Jackson’s own life experiences and follows a young artist conflicted with his inner demons.
Specifically, the show follows Usher, who works as an usher for The Lion King on Broadway. The young, overweight, gay, black writer tries to navigate the heteronormative white world. While being haunted by a six-person all-black ensemble who voice his inner thoughts, Usher grieves over the possibility of never becoming as successful as the singer with the same name and the struggle of ghostwriting a new Tyler Perry movie.
“It’s about a black, queer man writing a musical about a black, queer man who’s writing a musical about a black queer man who’s writing a musical about a black queer man, etc,” Jackson told the New York Times back in 2019.
Though, he more specifically stated that the main character is “a young overweight-to-obese homosexual and/or gay and/or queer, cisgender male, able-bodied university-and-graduate-school educated, musical theater writing, Disney Ushering, broke-ass middle-class far left-leaning black-identified and classified American descendant of slaves full of self-conscious femme energy and who thinks he’s probably a vers bottom but not totally certain of that obsessing over the latest draft of his self-referential musical ‘A Strange Loop’!”
Out actor Larry Owens, who played Usher in the Off-Broadway production, expressed joy at Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize win through Twitter.
But again, Michael R. Jackson wasn’t the only Black gay man to win this award. While Jackson won, Jericho Brown was standing right beside him.
I mean…I dunno…you have to admit, “Black queer men win the Pulitzer for poetry and drama” is a pretty funny sentence, right?
— Jericho Brown (@jerichobrown) May 5, 2020
Jericho Brown is a poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection titled The Tradition. The Tradition is described as a “collection of masterful lyrics that combine delicacy with historical urgency in their loving evocation of bodies vulnerable to hostility and violence.”
Speaking to the New York Times, writer Maya Phillips noted that, “Brown creates poetry that is a catalog of injuries past and present, personal and national, in a country where blackness, particularly male blackness, is akin to illness.”
Winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Poetry receive a $15,000 cash prize. Congratulations to the two winners and the many talented people who won with them.
Source: The New York Times, LivingOutLoud20