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Banned Kenyan Gay movie launched in Africa

After it was banned by the Kenya Film and Classification Board (KFCB) for reportedly promoting and inciting same-sex marriage, the queer-themed I am Samuel movie has been launched across Africa.

Directed and Produced by Peter Murimi and Toni Kamau respectively, the film, which was shot over five years and took two years to edit follows the life of a young man tormented by his sexuality while growing up in rural Kenya, who finds acceptance after moving to the capital, Nairobi.

Murimi was inspired to make this film because the voices of gay and lesbian youth go unheard and their issues are rarely discussed in the media or by mainstream policymakers.

“It is very rare for a poor, uneducated gay man to be given a platform to tell his story from his point of view, particularly in Kenya where such love is not accepted by society. Although it is not illegal to be queer and to fall in love, homosexual intimacy is criminalized under colonial-era laws,” said Murimi on the film website.

People who identify as queer aren’t able to love or live openly and face the threat of assault, abuse, and discrimination. “It was very important for this film to capture the reality of being poor and gay in Kenya, an experience shared by millions of LGBTQ+ people around the world,” he told Marc Werman of The World.

Speaking in an interview with American news channel Cable News Network (CNN) on the day of the launch, Peter Murimi expressed his disappointment with the Kenyan film industry for rejecting the film that was intended for Kenyans and was made by Kenyans to sensitize the public on the subject of queer love and inclusivity in the country.

“I am very disappointed and really sad because this story is for Kenyans, by Kenyans and actually Kenyans would really connect with it because it’s a story about a young man who struggles to live in a city, but it’s also a love story between two young men. This film shows that we have more in common than uncommon. So I am really disappointed that Kenyans will not get to see this story,” said the film director.

The documentary broadcasts across the African continent by AfriDocs, a South African-based platform, and will be available for African audiences to watch for free on www.afridocs.net.

However, in compliance with the ban by the Kenya Film and Classification Board, the documentary will be geo-blocked in Kenya. I Am Samuel is also distributed in the US and UK by Bohemia Media.