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MARX: A HERO FOR OUR TIME? — Suddenly, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone seems to be talking about Karl Marx. Louis Proyect delves into this mysterious resurgence, giving a vivid assessment of Marx’s relevance in the era of globalized capitalism. THE MEANING OF MANDELA: Longtime civil rights organizer Kevin Alexander Gray gives in intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and the global struggle of racial justice. FALLOUT OVER FUKUSHIMA: Peter Lee investigates the scandalous exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Kim Nicolini charts the rise of Matthew McConaughey. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the coming crash of the housing market. JoAnn Wypijewski on slavery, torture and revolt. Chris Floyd on the stupidity of US policy in Ukraine. Kristin Kolb on musicians and health care. And Jeffrey St. Clair on life and death on the mean streets of an America in decline
Dangerous Living: a Review

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.