Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Unveiling Muslim Gay Men and Women

The 6th World Film Festival of Bangkok is on since last week. And you know me, give me a bloody film fest and the bayot is there. But since I went on a trip it was only yesterday that I finally caught a film.

I actually sneaked out of the office just to catch A Jihad for Love (see official website here) yesterday afternoon, which I watched with Heidi. The courageous documentary explores the lives of Muslim gay men and women in various parts of the world, particularly South Africa, India, Iran, Egypt, and Turkey.

For the subjects of the documentary, being gay is not only a personal dilemma but more of a political struggle as well. Some of them were even imprisoned or caned, and some found new lives in more tolerant countries and finally escaping the societies that repress or scorn them.

On the other hand, some Muslim gay men and women (in India and Turkey for instance) enjoy a level of acceptance within the society and from their family. Still, as religious people, reconciling their faith with their sexuality is a continuous struggle.

The documentary may resonate for many gay people who live in societies whose norms on homosexuality are restrictive at best. How the subjects faced guilt and social pressures for instance are very familiar.

On the other hand, the documentary is most striking when it pointed out how, for homosexuals in Muslim societies, the private and the public spheres overlap. Homosexual activities Egypt and Iran are still practically illegal.

It seems unimaginable for me but it is a daily reality for many gay men and women in those parts of the world. Thus, the daring documentary has to be seen by many more gay people who want to take a look at the different lives of our brothers and sisters.

Take a peek into the film in the trailer below.

So there, that's one film from the festival. Last night I also caught a Costa Rican film with Shanghai Tang. That one is a bit surreal and familiar at the same time. On the latter, don't we Filipinos always feel a certain intimacy with most South American films because of the shared Hispanic culture?

Anyway, I'm off to see as many films as I can from this festival. Also, this weekend, Bubbles and I will head to House Rama to watch Serbis, that Filipino film that won the Grand Prize for the Southeast Asian section of the recent Bangkok International Film Festival. See you at the movies then.

Photo Credit: Film Catcher

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