Marlon Riggs, n.d.
“As a student at Harvard, in the 1970s, Marlon Riggs became interested in exploring on film the racism and homophobia he experienced, and he developed his own style extraordinarily quickly. Though a documentarian in approach, Riggs made films … that are essays in the truest sense of the word—attempts at describing the world both metaphorically and actually.”
—Hilton Als, 2019
“Tongues Untied is Riggs’s unclassifiable scrapbook of Black gay male sensibility (a hallucinatory whir of style, memory, psychology).… This is storytelling that arises from joy and pain and pride.… Movie and dream, yes. But mosaic, too.”
—Wesley Morris, 2019
Despite the work’s enthusiastic reception at international film festivals, Tongues Untied became embroiled in intense public debates on censorship and federal funding in the arts that dominated public discourse in the late 1980s and early 1990s following its broadcast on the PBS P.O.V. series in 1991.
The very first romantic kiss between men on American television happens in Marlon Riggs’s groundbreaking film Tongues Untied.… As of this writing, if you look up the first gay kiss on American TV, you’ll find a Dawson’s Creek episode from the year 2000. But the truth is that Riggs … broke this ground.”
—Jericho Brown, 2020
Marlon Riggs, n.d. © Signifyin’ Works. Courtesy Frameline and Signifyin’ Works
A frame grab from Marlon Riggs, Tongues Untied, 1989. © Signifyin’ Works. Courtesy Frameline and Signifyin’ Works