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Moonlight Writer Tarell Alvin McCraney Recalls the Pain of Gay Youth

Moonlight Writer Tarell Alvin McCraney Recalls the Pain of Gay Youth

The writer behind Moonlight recalls the pain of gay youth.
Courtesy: Tarell Alvin McCraney

"I walled myself off."

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

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Tarell Alvin McCraney