Queerness on the continent is often met with persecution, violence, and ostracism, and new legislation has been popping up in West and Central Africa criminalizing gender identity and sexual preference at an alarming rate. New documentary “XIV” is a short film following RXMXT visual artist and aspiring filmmaker from Lagos, currently residing in Galesburg, Illinois, and the struggles as an openly queer person in one of the most “progressive” countries in West Africa, and a country that is on the brink of full-fledged international power. On January 4th 2013, the then Nigerian president, Jonathan Goodluck, signed a bill criminalizing homosexual marriage and queer unions—14 years for anyone even suspected of being queer, and 10 years for supporting queer rights. In the wake of signing this bill, hate crimes increased almost overnight. RXMXT says, “My country went from “don’t ask don’t tell” to “death to all queers.” RXMXT identifies as a genderqueer demiboy, asexual and panromantic, so to their personhood, “XIV” is more than a short film—it’s a statement, from them to their government saying, “I don’t care what you do to me. But you will not keep me silent.” Exploring the lives of marginalized communities is not a new occurrence, but it’s never been more urgent than in these days and times. It’s beyond courageous to tell your story in the face of imprisonment and public ridicule, so for that we commend RXMXT and the brilliant work of “XIV.” Stream in full below.
By T. McLendon, AFROPUNK Contributor
Photo courtesy of Huffington Post