FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Gay in the Third World

by SCOTT HANDLEMAN

Dangerous Living is the moving new documentary about the joys and sorrows of life as a gay man or lesbian in the Third World. It has just been released on DVD. Dangerous Living was directed by John Scagliotti, the award-winning maker of Before Stonewall and After Stonewall (and, I should add, a friend).

The sweep of the Dangerous Living is vast, as it explores universal themes in the homosexual experience. In the span of an hour, it transports the viewer to the Middle East, Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
The film’s counterpoint is the explosive growth of an open gay culture and identity in the West during the last century. Scagliotti contrast this with the relative invisibility of gay culture in the countries of the developing world, at least judged by western standards, up until the 1990s.

Foreign films and above all the internet brought gay culture to the developing world. In the 1990s, this catalyzed an explosion of public gay culture in cities like Cairo, manifested in cafes, discos, theatrical productions and indigenous films. Gays and lesbians had pride marches in such countries as Honduras and Namibia, all captured by the camera’s eye.

But the explosion of gay culture triggered a backlash from preachers and politicians. A major theme of the film is the persecution that gays and lesbians have suffered for their sexuality. The film is framed by the saga of the Cairo 52, thrown in prison for two years for the crime of attending a gay dance party. Dilcia Molina, a Honduran woman who dared to attend the Honduran pride march with face uncovered, told of having her home invaded by armed thugs. They cut her six-year-old son’s face and promised to come back and “take the lesbian out of her.” Both Molina and Ashraf Zanati, a Cairo 52 defendant interviewed for the film, emigrated to North America.

Another theme of the film is the thrill of clandestine sexuality, followed by the excitement of coming out. A Muslim man described the erotic spark when he grazed a neighbor’s finger during prostration at a mosque. Dilcia Molina intimated the pleasurable surprise of arriving at a lesbian dance party in her native Honduras. For Ging Cristobel, the principal pleasure of attending a lesbian film was being immersed in an audience of lesbians.

The film is fast-paced and visually appealing. It captures the colorful quality of gay culture—dancing drag queens, rainbow flags, a transsexual Thai kickboxer.

Because it covers so much ground geographically, the film leaves intriguing threads unwoven—especially, the welcoming of homosexuality in certain traditional cultures. I wish the film had spent more time with Vaasili, a tribal chief in Fiji who looked and sounded completely trans-gendered.

The film gives voice to voices seldom heard. For this reason alone, it is well worth watching.

 

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail