Filmmaker Lauren Tabak and writer Barry Walters teamed up to create “Love Me Like You Should: The Brave and Bold Sylvester,” released Thursday. The short documentary is a compilation of archival footage, as well as rare performance clips, charting Sylvester’s rise from Los Angeles choir boy to glam 1970s hit-maker.
Beloved for songs like “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and “Do Ya Wanna Funk,” Sylvester died in 1988 of an AIDS-related illness at 42. His legacy, however, continues to live on in the likes of “Pose” star Billy Porter, one of several luminaries interviewed for the film. (Catch the “Love Me Like You Should” trailer above.)
“He was a gender-fluid Black man in mainstream music,” Porter says. “That hasn’t happened since. There’s been a lot of us who have tried, and I’ve been trying for 30 years. Nobody did it like Sylvester.”
At work on a new book, “Mighty Real: The Music That Built LGBTQ America,” Walters told HuffPost he’s hopeful viewers “can recognize in Sylvester that part of themselves that doesn’t meet society’s expectations.”
“Those same things that would’ve put Sylvester on the lowest rung of society’s ladder made him a star back then and legendary today,” he said. “At a time when most of us are struggling, particularly Black Americans, who’ve been kicked around since the beginning of our country, that’s a hugely important lesson.”
Similarly, Tabak told HuffPost she’s hopeful “Love Me Like You Should” will serve as an entry point to Sylvester’s work for new generation, while bringing a smile to the faces of longtime fans.
“I think what really elevates him to icon status are his contributions to the LGBTQ community,” said the director, who has also created documentaries about the Rolling Stones and Kendrick Lamar. “Sylvester truly was a gift, in particular to those who could finally see themselves represented positively in mainstream culture at a time when this was extremely rare.”
Catch “Love Me Like You Should: The Brave and Bold Sylvester” documentary here.