Buhli Msibi’s poem I Break the Boxes provides the title for this wide-ranging, touching, often funny documentary highlighting the lives of black lesbians in South Africa.
The title is appropriate; by telling the tales of six high profile women, the sheer breadth of experience in the black lesbian community is revealed, the profiled women all having redefined their set parameters in one way or another.
They are a well-thought out mix of voices and bear compelling witness to an epoch that has seen gay rights go from zero to hero. There are the mother figures, Mary Hames of UWC’s Gender Equity Unit and Dr Yvette Abrahams of the Gender Commission for Gender Equality, who set the scene with stories of the anti-apartheid activism years (and falling hopelessly in love).
The traditional leader, Fikile Vilakazi of the Coalition of African Lesbians, one of the country’s most eloquent spokespersons on the rights of gay people, offers a compelling argument against the gay-is-white argument; “if you say being gay is not African then you insult me, because you are saying I am not African”.
Another strong voice is Out in Africa’s own Theresa Raizenberg, activist and film buff, who remembers the early ABIGAIL years and the changes since. The youth is represented by Jozi FM DJ Charmaine ‘Fino’ Dlamini and soccer star Portia Modise, both completely out and succeeding in their fields, despite being largely male-dominated sectors.
A warm, compelling and satisfyingly affirming film.
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