ABDUL IS BOTH MISOGYNISTIC AND HOMOPHOBIC. HOMOPHOBIA IS SOMETHING THAT IS STILL RAMPANT IN OUR CULTURE, UNFORTUNATELY, IN GENERAL. HOW HAS HOMOPHOBIA AFFECTED THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN PARTICULAR? At the time I was writing Push, gay white activist Andrew Sullivan declared that if there was to be a triage concerning anti-viral drugs, these drugs should go first to gay white men who have contributed so much to society and not to poor blacks who were so stupid they didn't even know what had hit them. Conversely, some black activists and church leaders labeled and stigmatized AIDS as a gay disease and denied the effect of the AIDS epidemic in the black community. So I think what I'm trying to do is show the effects of homophobia, show the effects of racism.

DID YOU KNOW FROM THE START THAT PRECIOUS WAS GOING TO BE BIG? We did not, at least I didn't — maybe [director] Lee Daniels did — until Sundance when Oprah called. He was getting ready to walk up to the stage and Oprah calls, and that changed the trajectory of everything.

DO YOU HAVE ANY HOPES FOR THE KID BEING MADE INTO A FILM? I think it's going to take some time. I have reviews from '96 where people were calling Push pornography and that kind of stuff. It took many years for it to become a socially acceptable document. So, right now, people are out with their anti-Kid.

SAPPHIRE READS AT PORTER SQUARE BOOKS ON JULY 5.

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