In Tongues Untied, Marlon Riggs examines how black, gay men are often forced to choose between which identity and movement they are allowed to be a part of. If they choose to express themselves as gay men, then they lose their blackness in the process. If they seek to promote themselves as black men, then they must silence their identity as gay men. This is imposed on them as a result of bigotry within the black community.
The problem of bigotry that Marlon Riggs lays out is also evident in Lee’s Get on the Bus through the reaction of the other men towards finding out that there are gay men on the bus. Randall is arguing to Kyle about the unfairness in him ending the relationship without offering a substantial explanation for why it ended so abruptly. Through this argument, he reveals to the whole bus that the both of them are gay, black men (16:54).
This revelation causes most of the people on the bus to express disgust and question why there would be gay men on the bus. Junior says, “Cool Dad. We’re going to the million man march with a bunch of homos” (17:34). And Flip exclaims, “We have faggots on the bus” (17:56). These reactions typify how most of the bus riders acted in response to this revelation. The purpose of the bus ride is to attend the million man march to express solidarity within the black male community. The reason why everyone is surprised, is the same problem that Riggs lays out in his piece: a gay man cannot be a black man.
It is not surprising that Lee gives the most divergent reaction to youngest man on the bus (if Junior is taken as an adolescent). Xavier does not see a problem with gay men being on the bus, even calling Flip and the others out for their overt bigotry (18:10). The fact of the matter is, being gay does not remove them from the same racist forces that the bus riders seek to fight.