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Sunday, 15 March 2009

Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World

Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World (2003) - John Scagliotti
Year: 2003
Genre: Documentary
Director: John Scagliotti
Duration: 62 min
Country USA
Actors: Janeane Garofalo
While the hitherto unthinkable notion of legal gay marriage now looks possible in the U.S. and other Western nations are even further ahead in gay rights, docu "Dangerous Living" reminds viewers that homosexuality is still a reason for persecution through much of the developing world. Geographical sweep here prevents in-depth scrutiny of any one nation. But while "After Stonewall" helmer John Scagliotti's assemblage is just workmanlike and at times seems cluttered, peek at gay activism in far-flung places proves fascinating and educational. Extensive gay fest travel should spur select tube sales.

Narrative hook is recurrent focus on the May 2001 police raid on the Queen Boat Disco in Cairo. Arrested foreigners were released, but 52 of the Egyptian men arrested were charged with "debauchery." Simply for dancing together on the floating venue's known "gay night," the men's names were made public, and many were sentenced to as much as five years' hard labor.
Worldwide outcry may eventually help soften treatment of gays in Egypt, where homosexual acts (though not the more recent, Western notion of a homosexual "identity") in fact have been historically tolerated so long as they were not discussed. Several of the "Cairo 52" have since fled the country.

Even worse horror stories are related from other nations. Honduran activist Dilcia Molina was not at home when six soldiers arrived to "rape the lesbian out of" her; they settled instead for beating and cutting her children.

Police violence, death threats, flogging, castration, et al., are among other genuine fears of gays in Samoa, India, and elsewhere; interviewees hail from everywhere from Namibia to Pakistan and Vietnam. Picture isn't entirely bleak, however: Thailand's leading kickboxer is a beloved male-to-female transsexual, for instance. And participants raise the interesting point that the global dissemination of positive gay images via TV, film and especially the Internet has lit an unstoppable fire of gay self-knowledge in places previously too isolated to be impacted by liberal Western attitudes



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