Gay in the Third World

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:
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes