This article can also be found in the print Edition 2 of VARSITY Newspaper.
The adverse aura around this film is the epitome of the fragility of masculinity. The controversy surrounding the film not only speaks to the disclosure of cultural practices, but also to the unspoken truth of fragile masculinity: homosexuality.
As a Xhosa woman who has seen the film, I cannot admit to seeing or hearing anything of which I had no prior knowledge of. What happens in the mountain is sacred to Xhosa people who identify as men. However, the film does not expose any aspect of the practice that is unfamiliar to the general society. The real issue here is that this film challenges masculinity and speaks to queer politics by centralising the film around a cultural practice that breeds masculinity. This goes on to reveal a truth, which is a reality that cannot be dimmed. This is a challenge to masculinity. The hostility towards the film depicts how being a queer black man is a struggle and how queer black men have been ostracized by social culture. Homosexuality is still a taboo topic within the Xhosa culture and the film is triggering to those who base their masculinity on the norms of heterosexuality and the socially constructed power that comes with it.
The setting of the film is vital because it is located in the space where you are taught to be a man – a space where queer men are belittled, abused and treated as lesser men.
What is a man?
Is a man someone who repudiates other men because of their sexuality? We have cultivated a culture of hostility where queer bodies are not safe to be themselves within their own culture and within society at large. The film shows that suppressing one’s feelings can turn out to be toxic.
People need to probe themselves to find the real reason behind repudiating a film that they have not even watched or scrutinized. Why does the merging of an all-male cultural practice and homosexuality make you uncomfortable? Or are you just afraid that it will force you to deal with your deep-rooted issues, which is the truth of your own sexuality? There is something about homosexuality that threatens masculinity and it is high time we explore what it is.
*Writer wishes to remain anonymous