Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Call Me Kuchu

On a day of historic gay-rights rulings, it seems especially apt to recommend "Call Me Kuchu," Katherine Fairfax Wright's and Malika Zouhali-Worrall's eye-opening documentary about the baby steps being taken by the handful of gays and lesbians who have come out in Uganda.
The film focuses on David Kato, the first openly gay man - or "kuchu" - in the country as he litigates against Rolling Stone, a Kampala tabloid (no relation to the music magazine) that publishes the names and photographs of suspected homosexuals under such headlines as "Hang Them," and coalesces international opposition to a draconian Parliamentary bill (still under consideration) that would entrench the criminalization of homosexuality, make "aggravated homosexuality" a death offense, and require citizens to turn in those they know or believe to be gay.

We also meet two brave lesbians, Naome Ruzindana and Stosh Mugisha, and hear their haunting stories of "curative rape" and forced abortions. This is one of the most stable polities in Africa, and at the same time it is a place where good and lawful citizens must from time to time move location under black of night for fear of brutal physical reprisals. One of the primary subjects was murdered during the course of filming, casting a funereal pall on a story of amazing courage and hopefulness. "Call Me Kuchu" is not the most technically accomplished documentary you'll ever see, but its people and their stories stay with you - especially on a day such as this.

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