I Am Samuel

Beautiful and intimate documentary about Samuel, a gay Kenyan, who is considering coming out to his family now that he has met the love of his life, Alex.

This film for me was about the universalities and uniqueness of queer people’s stories. Every queer person watching this can identify with growing up receiving the message that straight is the only way to be, and thinking you are the only person you know who is queer, and having anxiety about parental rejection when you come out. Across the world, queer people can identify with that.

Yet this film is also about Samuel’s story in particular. He grew up in a rural, religious family. The family is very close. As a teenager, to try to conform to being straight, he slept with and knocked up a local girl, and now is raising a daughter as a single dad. She stays with his sister while he goes to work in the city, in order to earn the family a little money, and pay for his daughter’s schooling. But in Nairobi, he had a complete awakening. He realised he is not the only gay person, that there is in fact numerous gay people, and plenty right there in Nairobi. He made a crowd of friends, met and fell in love with Alex.

Kenya is a very devoutly Christian country, and being gay is illegal there. Homophobic violence is a constant source of worry.

But what was really encouraging about this film was there, like here, things are changing. Just because you can’t see them on the surface, in the penal code, on the tv screen, doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening. And it’s happening as it happens all around the world, another universal queer experience: things change when people live their truth openly, and when people choose love over hate.

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