Making Sweet Tea is a documentary film that chronicles the journey of southern-born, Black gay researcher and performer, E. Patrick Johnson, as he travels home to North Carolina to come to terms with his past, and to Georgia, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. to reconnect with six Black gay men he interviewed for the book, Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South—An Oral History.
Johnson transformed that book into several staged plays over the course of a decade. The film combines documentary moments from the men’s lives a decade after the publication of the book and from Johnson’s life, depicting both how the men have changed and been changed by the book and play. The film also covers the complexities of Johnson’s relationships with the men, with his family, and with his hometown in western North Carolina. One experimental component of the film is Johnson’s re-staging the performance of the men’s narrative in their homes, in their churches, or on their jobs, sometimes with them directing him and/or with them in the scene. Blurring the line between art and life, Making Sweet Tea offers a rare glimpse into the lives of people rarely given a platform to speak, while also demonstrating how research, artistry, and life converge.
Audience Award Best Documentary–2020 Out on Film Atlanta LGBTQ Film Festival, Best LGBT Film–2020 San Diego Black Film Festival
Audience Choice Award Best Documentary–2020 Kansas City Film Fest International