Cedric Tchante of Born This Way Talks Cameroon, LGBTQIA Activism, and Living in California
In 2016 the first ACT Human Rights Film Festival screened Born this Way, a film that follows four young gay Cameroonians as they navigate the politics of life in Cameroon where being gay is against the law. Cédric Tchante, whose day-to-day life in Cameroon is featured in Born This Way, spoke after the film screening during the inaugural festival. Cédric now lives and works in San Francisco, and we got a chance to catch up with him.
LN: For those who have not seen Born This Way can you explain what the situation is like for LGBTQIA people in Cameroon?
CT: Cameroon is the country with the most people arrested and put in jail because they are gay, or perceived to be gay. In Cameroon, being gay endangers your life. You can be beaten or killed, and the murderer will not be put in jail, because in my country being gay is the worst thing for a human being to be.
LN: So, that’s why you moved to the United States? Has life gotten easier since moving?
CT: Yes, I moved to USA four years ago because my family and I were in danger, due to my sexual orientation and my activism work for the LGBTQIA community in Cameroon. I can literally say the life here in the U.S. is better for a gay man like me, even if I have some difficulties understanding or accepting certain things not correct in the gay community here in San Francisco.
LN: Has the situation gotten any better in Cameroon?
CT: No, the situation has not changed in Cameroon and is probably going to get worse. The government wants to change the penalty for being gay from 5 years to 15-30 years in jail. It’s terrible. Gays are still assaulted and beaten, sometimes beaten death. The community is very afraid.
LN: It’s been two years since we met you, what have you been up to in that time?
CT: I still continue to be a voice for my community in Cameroon, and I write about LGBTQIA issues in Cameroon for Huffington Post. I’m also still helping my activist friend in Cameroon with some writing, advocacy work, and I am their safe contact when they need help.
Here in California, I’m a marketing coordinator in a real estate company. I have some friends who are now my family. We support each other and try to be together when our timetables are open. San Francisco is my home now and the next step is to find a boyfriend/husband (and it’s not easy in this city LOL).
LN: And, what do you do for fun?
CT: Good question, I like go to the movie theater (I love scary movies!), and try different restaurants around San Francisco. I also like to hike, walk on beach, dance, and cook at home (I love following some online cooking recipes).
To learn more about Cédric Tchante, and the situation in Cameroon for LGBTQIA people, check out the links below:
Born This Way | 2013 | USA | Cameroon | 85 mins
There are more arrests for homosexuality in Cameroon than any other country in the world. With intimate access to the lives of four young gay Cameroonians, Born This Way steps outside the genre of activist filmmaking and offers a vivid and poetic portrait of day-to-day life in modern Africa. Lyrical imagery, devastating homophobia, the influence of western culture and a hidden-camera courtroom drama mysteriously coalesce into a story of what is possible in the global fight for equality.