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Moonlight Writer Tarell Alvin McCraney Recalls the Pain of Gay Youth

The writer behind Moonlight recalls the pain of gay youth.

"Even though I went to school with a great deal of these people for more than two years—and, by virtue of our last names, saw them often—I cannot name a single person or spot one I called a friend. In fact, when I showed this to [Moonlight director] Barry Jenkins, he recognized many more students and could mention them by name—and we were never in the same grade, or even at the same schools. I don’t remember the people on this page as being any of the bullies who made my life a living hell in middle school. Actually, I know none of these people were those bullies. The faces of the bullies—of a boy named Terrell, and his friends, and someone named Kevin—are etched in my mind. I’d had the fight depicted in Moonlight the year before these photos were taken. Afterward, I walled myself off. I hid in the library from everyone, even people who wanted to just talk or hang. It was a very lonely, scary time. By eighth grade, I wasn’t sleeping much, as shown here [bottom center] by the bags under my eyes. I wore red flannel shirts because Eddie Vedder did."

Related | Moonlight Revolution: The Black Queer Experience Comes of Age in America

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