Dangerous Living: Coming Out in the Developing World, directed by John Scagliotti and produced by Dan Hunt and Janet Baus, is the first documentary to deeply explore the lives of gay and lesbian people in non-western cultu... more »res. Traveling to five different continents, we hear the heartbreaking and triumphant stories of gays and lesbians from Egypt, Honduras, Kenya, Thailand and elsewhere, where most occurrences of oppression receive no media coverage at all.
Dangerous Living is the winner of the Audience Award (Best Feature) in the Barcelona GLBT Int. Festival, Audience Award (Best Documentary) in the Hartford Alternatives Festival, and officially selected in the International Film Festival on Human Rights, Geneva. By sharing the personal stories coming out of developing nations, Dangerous Living sheds light on an emerging global movement striving to end discrimination and violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Dangerous Living is part of the HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH SERIES. Human Rights Watch, widely regarded as one of the most influential and important human rights organizations in the world, and First Run Features, which for 25 years has distributed films that confront human rights issues, recently formed a collaboration to bring awareness to films that shed light on human rights abuses throughout the world. Through its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Project, Human Rights Watch fights to end abuses based on sexual orientation or gender identity.« less
"This documentary gave sizeable presentation to gay men, lesbians, and transgendered people. The topic covered Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Interviewees were English-speaking and non-English-speaking. (It was amusing to hear such heavily British-influenced English and how people would stress the "ed" in past tense verbs, as if they were all pronounced like 'learned' or 'affected.')
There is a big argument among gay academics about whether all gays are alike or different; it's called essentialism versus constructionism in academese. Most experts favor the latter and go into detail about how gays abroad or in the past differ from those in the West today. However, this documentary shows numerous gays of the developing world saying how happy they were to hear the word "gay" or "transgendered" instead of epithets, how pleased they were to meet other gays for the first time, or how excited they were to see gay films. This is very similar to the coming-out stories of modern, Western gays. Further, many gays and lesbians of color in the West have suggested that white culture may promote or enforce homophobia in communities of color. (You can hear this in the independent documentary "Our House: Gays and Lesbians in the Hood.") Here, one Pakistani man notes that homophobic laws were not in Islamic legal books, but were handed over by the British. Several commentators wonder if the West is to blame for homophobia, rather than for gay rights.
This documentary does tend to suggest that what is happening now in the developing world happened in the West 30 years ago. The Cairo 52 controversy is portrayed as the Egyptian Stonewall Riots. However, this idea is worked against because homoerotic art from Ancient Egypt, India, and Japan is shown. Gay rights may be new in this region, but not gay desire or relationships. I hate to contradict myself, but whereas Western gays can join gay-exclusive activist organizations, this documentary mentions that AIDS activism, feminism, and the Internet are often the only ways, though circuitous, that gays in this region can fight for freedom.
Unfortunately, too many people, in the West and outside of it, think that gay rights is just ephemeral, nebulous, marginal politicking. Especially in nations worried about starvation, civil war, and lack of health care, gay rights often take a back seat. However, this documentary shows how homophobia is no joke. It focuses upon people that have been arrested, almost raped, and lashed just for consensual, non-violent behavior. Furthermore, it shows how the bigotry of leaders often floats down to the masses to make the lives of everyday gay men, lesbians, and transgendereds dangerous.
There are small comments from IGLHRC staff members and Congressman Frank. Still, this documentary is wonderful because gays and lesbians from the developing world got to speak for themselves. To be truthful, Janeane Garofalo's narration gives a straight, white, Western stamp of approval. However, I thought she was being a pro-gay ally by performing here. Also, she is not seen whereas non-Western gay activists are.
When the documentary ends, it notes that many gay rights activists in the developing world have to migrate to the West. (They show many individuals now in Canada or the UK, but rarely in the US, CIS officials wake up!) They do note that most gays and lesbians from those regions will not be able to immigrate. I wish they would have added that some developing countries do have strong gay rights laws. South Africa and Ecuador are examples.
I was incredibly moved by this documentary. I want to thank the makers for putting it together. This work must be publicized more than it has been. This will make you want to write a check to Amnesty or IGLHRC in a second. All gay men and lesbians of color, regardless of their citizenship, should buy this work and share it with their allies. All progressive individuals, regardless of sexuality or nationality, should peep this piece as well."
Gay Rights Are Human Rights
Richard Coeur de Lion | BOSTON, MA United States | 08/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary is an eye-opener. It shines a long overdue light into the often perilous shadow world of GLBT people in the developing world. After watching this program, I thanked God for my parents, my family, my friends, and the luck of being born in a place like Boston. At the end of the day, cultural differences and ideology are rendered meaningless in the face of biology: WE ARE ALL PART OF THE HUMAN FAMILY. This dvd is a MUST see."
An important glimpse of lgbt activism in the global south
wildflowerboy | planet earth | 04/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unfortunately, in the global justice movement, little attention is ever given to the day-to-day struggles of queer human rights activists in the Third World. Likewise, mainstream LGBT organizations in the global north tend to whitewash LGBT activism, silencing not only voices living in the southern hemisphere, but often also voices of color living within the colonizing states. As such, "Dangerous Living" is a wonderful intervention to the sometimes subtle homophobia of the radical left and the often overt racism of queer politics in North America and Europe. However, like what one of the other reviewers on this site wrote, it would have been nice to see some examples of Third World countries where queer human rights are affirmed like Argentina or Costa Rica or South Africa. Nevertheless, this film is amazing and I hope it reaches a large audience!"
A great glimpse at the state of (non-Western) gay and lesbia
David Alston | Chapel Hill, NC, USA | 09/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In many ways, this long overdue documentary updates Eric Marcus' once-groundbreaking, 13-year-old book OUT IN THE WORLD: both take an examination of the state of LGBT liberation and rights out of the West, and both stand as remarkable reminders of the intersection between the fight for LGBT rights and of human rights and social justice in general.
DANGEROUS LIVING uses a well-publicized and well-covered raid in Cairo as a jumping off point - filmmaker John Scagliotti travels and interviews activists from Jamaica, Brazil, Guatemala, Namibia, Uganda, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Fiji and elsewhere; the results are must-see filmmaking and history. Several of the individuals interviewed have been driven into exile elsewhere, but each continues to do their part in this battle. And a few of the figures here - specifically from Egypt and Jamaica (both now resident in the US), and from India have begun to make a name for themselves as globally important activists; and especially in that last instance - an activist of considerable repute already, and a potentially historically vital figure.
My lone complaint with this doc is its' brevity - I'm fairly certain that a fair amount of material had to have been left on the cutting room floor, and throughout I was hoping to hear more from the individual activists, and a bit less voiceover.
Still, this is essential viewing.
Gay in the Third World
Jonathan C. Anthony | 12/16/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great video, extremely educational and illuminating of the plight of GLBT indivduals in the third world. As difficult as it can be to be GLBT in the USA, this reminds you of the freedoms we have here, that are uncommon or unheard of in the third world. A must for any GLBT outreach organizaiton."