Dewayne And Black Queer Horror Excellence In ‘The Blackening’ [The Lone Queer]

The Blackening

The Blackening (2023) is one of the wittiest, true-to-form horror satires to be released, recently. There have been many films that take the tired tropes of horror and bend them in the middle. The Blackening manages to snap those tropes, reverse them, and create something new from past material. It’s not just a few successful jokes sprinkled throughout while others fall flat. The entire film is dedicated to the tired and often offensive plight of black people in horror, and it succeeds.

It is not my place to speak on Black audiences’ experiences with The Blackening. As Ranger White (Diedrich Bader) says in the film, “… I know my presence in an all-Black space would be a disturbance, and undo it being in an all-Black space.” So I’m not here to speak on the Black or the Black queer experience within the film. I am here to fully appreciate the queer wonder that is the lone queer of The Blackening, Dewayne (Dewayne Perkins). 

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Dewayne is amongst a group of friends gathering for a reunion at a cabin to celebrate Juneteenth. There’s a perfect blend of personalities amongst the group that satirizes and celebrates character tropes within horror. Dewayne is the solo queer. What I loved about The Blackening and its characters is that they rise above and beyond the stereotypes given to them. Dewayne does this in spades (if you’ve seen the movie then you know that this pun is very much intended). 

The biggest aspect of Dewayne is that he is all in when it comes to the horror shenanigans. I don’t mean, “all in,” as in he’s all for what is happening. Dewayne is all in because he isn’t going to fall victim to the “bury your queers” trope. He’s going to fight back against the killer while being witty, charming, and unapologetically queer. 

There are multiple moments throughout the film that made me fall in love with Dewayne. He is incredibly loyal to his girls. The majority of queer males surround themselves with women who they admire because of their strength, their ability to maneuver through a patriarchal world, and are just incredible in their own specific way. His best girl, Lisa (Antoinette Robertson), has supposedly just gone through a rough breakup. Dewayne was there for her. Where this plot point goes was something that resonated with me. I’m not going to say that that plot point hit me personally, but I’ll say that … yeah, it hit me personally. Lisa has secretly gotten back with the guy that she broke up with, and unbeknownst to Dewayne, that guy, Nnamdi (Sinqua Walls), will be at the cabin to join the celebration. 

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Once Dewayne learns this, he doesn’t stall in letting Lisa know that it pisses him off. Once he learns that the two have gotten back together, Dewayne delves into a situation that a lot of queer individuals may know all too well. Queer individuals can be the fallback when a straight friend has issues within a relationship. It’s either that, or we’re a substitute for a relationship that straight people want. Dewayne summed it up best when he said, “You have always used my friendship as some fucked up replacement as a rebound guy whenever y’all broke up because it was safe.” This isn’t me saying that queer and straight friendships are based on this, but if that moment in the film didn’t ring a bell … because this is an occasion that does occasion.  

Yet, while being loyal to his girls, he’s also his own individual. Dewayne is outspoken, cordial, respectful, and willing to dance a damn good dance whilst tripping on Molly. That Molly dance moment is one of the top scenes of the film with him. As he strips off of his clothes, and dances it out, he seems to be celebrating who he is: Black, queer excellence even amid the drama. 

Beyond that, Dewayne is a quintessential queer character when it comes to the Lone Queer status as well as being a Black queer character in a horror film. Dewayne Perkins, who portrays Dewayne, also co-wrote The Blackening, which speaks volumes about the portrayal that we received. 

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When a queer person writes a queer person, the outcome is much more organic. Previous Lone Queers in this column, possibly more than 95% of them, weren’t written by a queer person. While those Lone Queers were appreciated, especially those placed in films during a time when the LGBTQIA+ community wasn’t represented, there’s just something 100% different about a queer person written by a queer person. Perkins excels at that with Dewayne. 

A lot of that representation comes from not being a perfect queer character. Dewayne has his slights, and while the majority of them are used for comedic moments, they resonate in real life. Who hasn’t stopped a pretty serious moment, aka a slasher trying to slash you and your friends, to let them all know that a queen of music just retweeted you? Who hasn’t had to find the best way to be brutally honest with your friends? Because that’s what Dewayne is about throughout the entire film whilst also being pure and legit himself. “I throw up when I’m nervous,” is a legit queer (and slightly Piscean way) to express your reaction to fear. Later in The Blackening, he does in fact throw up which helps those who are attempting to avoid the killer. 

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Out of all of the Lone Queers that I’ve written about within the past year, Dewayne is one of my favorites. Amongst all of the reasons written about throughout this article, I will add one more. It’s because Dewayne is a true, pure queer person represented within a horror film. Loyal, down to fight for those that he loves and for who he is, and has a great sense of who he is. 

Outside of the queer aspect of his character, Dewayne is one of the few Black queers that is represented within recent horror films. I could name a very few other Black queers within horror, some I have previously written about, but—to my knowledge—none of those were written by someone who is Black and queer.

Alongside co-writer Tracy Oliver, Dewayne Perkins gave life to Dewayne within The Blackening. Thankfully, a sequel has been greenlit. We will be given more Black queer horror excellence, as long as Perkins has a word in the writing, and returns as Dewayne is The Blackening 2



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