André Leon Tally on Being Black and Gay in Fashion

André Leon Talley is cashing in on his experience in the fashion limelight. The former editor-at-large of US Vogue is starring in an upcoming documentary called “The Gospel According to André.” In the film, director Kate Novack walks the audience through Talley’s life and career as a fashion journalist, which traces his upbringing in the racially segregated South and his work at prolific work as an editor at some of the world’s most famous fashion publications.

“He was so many things he wasn’t supposed to be, and people couldn’t get around it,” said Whoopi Goldberg in the film.

Talley’s life and experience in fashion is far from boring as the documentary reveals about Anna Wintour’s oft-wingman. Growing up in the South, the fashion revolutionary was more accustomed to being surrounded by humble churchgoers than glamorous fashion icons, but he was always interested in style. In fact, it was church where Talley’s style came to life. For him, church “was a fashion show,” even if he was sometimes criticized for his over-the-top ensembles.

Throughout the film, Talley talks about how he stayed determined in the face of adversity in order to reach his goals of working in fashion—a valuable playbook for any aspiring fashion students—but being a black, gay man, presented it’s fair share of challenges.

“A bunch of white boys at Duke decided to throw rocks at me because I was walking to campus,” Talley shares in the film.

Unfortunately, the taunting didn’t end when he started working in fashion.

“People have said many bad things about me. They used to call me Queen Kong… I was like an ape. I was like a gay, ape—Queen Kong,” Talley explains of one Yves Saint Laurent employee.

But, it was Talley who’s having the last laugh: “The Gospel” has only debuted on 4 movie screens so far and has already made $44,500 in its limited-release, making it the best movie in its box office category. The film officially releases in theaters nationwide this Friday, June 1.

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