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Charl Blignaut

There’s a scene, right near the start of Inxeba, where childhood friends Xolani (Nakhane Touré) and Vija (Bongile Mantsai) meet one another again after a year apart and they have sex. It’s initiation season and they are caregivers, this year looking after four initiates between them.

Without exchanging a word they go to a derelict house on the mountain and they f*ck. They love. But there is no future here or anywhere else for them. Vija, an alpha male, is married with a newly born second child. Xolani is a gay factory worker unable to live his life because of his closet.

The sex scene in question, tastefully filmed and not sensationalised, is complex, simple, cold and lusty and anal. Straight audience members I spoke with afterwards struggled with it.

As a queer man I celebrate it. It made it perfectly clear from the get-go that we are not here for your judgment of our sex lives and we are not going to represent ourselves in some sterilised, misty-screened way with symphony music in the background. We have sex and we are conflicted and we are lusty and we are scared of our own masculinity.

That’s what played out for me as the gay love story progressed. We know, as queers, that there will be violence in this story, because we live in violence in a society that does not accept the reality of our lives.

It is not my place, as a white man, to interrogate the c ...

There’s a scene, right near the start of Inxeba, where childhood friends Xolani (Nakhane Touré) and Vija (Bongile Mantsai) meet one another again after a year apart and they have sex. It’s initiation season and they are caregivers, this year looking after four initiates between them.

Without exchanging a word they go to a derelict house on the mountain and they f*ck. They love. But there is no future here or anywhere else for them. Vija, an alpha male, is married with a newly born second child. Xolani is a gay factory worker unable to live his life because of his closet.

The sex scene in question, tastefully filmed and not sensationalised, is complex, simple, cold and lusty and anal. Straight audience members I spoke with afterwards struggled with it.

As a queer man I celebrate it. It made it perfectly clear from the get-go that we are not here for your judgment of our sex lives and we are not going to represent ourselves in some sterilised, misty-screened way with symphony music in the background. We have sex and we are conflicted and we are lusty and we are scared of our own masculinity.

That’s what played out for me as the gay love story progressed. We know, as queers, that there will be violence in this story, because we live in violence in a society that does not accept the reality of our lives.

It is not my place, as a white man, to interrogate the cultural issues in the film. But as a gay man I felt empowered by its frankness, overwhelmed by its beauty and its honesty, frustrated by the lies we must live and intrigued by what conversation Inxeba may provoke.

What happens when straight men’s gay secrets are spoken? When gay men’s closets get bust open?

Inxeba is a very important piece of cinema that follows on from Oliver Hermanus’ Skoonheid (Beauty) in establishing a line of particularly challenging queer South African film.

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