Directed by Ajahnis Charley
The film I Am Gay, directed by and starring Ajahnis Charley, documents the conversations he has with each member of his family as he comes out to them. “I am so proud to be included in this year’s festival,” exclaimed Ajahnis. “It is an honour to start establishing myself in the canon of queer and Black film in general, but I Am Gay is about and for Caribbean families. I highly value having my Caribbean heritage being so prominent. It’s amazing.”
Traditionally, members of the LGBTQ+ community have been shunned and shamed in the Caribbean. Though these views are evolving and some progress is being made, there are still many countries in the Caribbean that criminalize homosexuality and gender nonconformity. These laws perpetuate discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ people. Ajahnis’ mother, who is included in the documentary, was born and raised in Guyana where homosexuality is still punishable by law. In the film, she has a hard time accepting Ajahnis coming out to her and attributes her mindset to “the way [she] was brought up.” However, things are changing in the Caribbean. In 2018, Guyana had its first ever Pride parade and on August 10th, 2021, Guyana officially repealed a law that criminalized cross-dressing.
In sharing his coming out story, Ajahnis highlights the importance of love and acceptance in our family lives. “I come from a generation that values preserving significant moments in time,” explained Charley. “Of course I could have had my coming out experience as a memory, but to capture the nuances and emotions of that reveal – there’s no better medium to relive those moments than on film.”
Mandisa Pantin, Programmer of the CaribbeanTales Film festival says, “I Am Gay is an evocative and charming documentary…It is very interesting to see the reactions of a family with a Caribbean background, when one of their own reveals their sexuality, though the mom’s own was unexpected. A very heartfelt, and relevant film.”
Ajahnis shares why it’s important to hear the stories shared by LQBTQ+ creators, “Watch the film! Explore other queer works. Continue doing the work to recontextualize what you know. As long as you try, you’ll change. That’s what I Am Gay is all about. Just try.”
https://caribbeantalesfestival.com/ctff_films/i-am-gay/ This is a link to the info page about the film