Born This Way: Gay and Lesbian in Cameroon

color. 55 min. In English & French w/English subtitles. Shaun Kadlec & , Mrs. Lockhart Prods., dist. by Good Docs, www.gooddocs.net. 2015. DVD $129; acad. libs. $299; streaming $499; digital + DVD $499. Public performance. GENDER STUDIES
While LGBT Americans celebrate the Supreme Court's decision to expand the definition of marriage, gays and lesbians in some parts of the world are still struggling to achieve basic acceptance. This documentary shines a light on the gay experience in one such place, Cameroon, in Central Africa. We meet a young gay man living in a poor section of Douala who is harassed daily by anonymous strangers; a young lesbian with a closeted lover who struggles to come out to her mentor; and an activist lawyer who fights the corrupt legal system to keep innocent people out of prison. We also spend time at Douala's Access Center, an organization officially concerned only with HIV-AIDS treatment and prevention but unofficially a welcoming haven for LGBT Cameroonians.
VERDICT While the camera lingers generously on Cameroon's people and the country's varied urban and rural landscapes, it would have been useful to have a narrator to provide more background on the political and social situation in the country, which most viewers will likely know little about. That said, the portraits we get of LGBT Cameroonians and their struggles are affecting and memorable. Recommended for any collection concerned with LGBT issues, African studies, or human rights.

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