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How Nigerian gay-themed film ‘Orgasm’ failed to meet expectations

“A discreet gay man’s one-night stand turns into a love affair he never asked for.”

The above premise marks the introduction to Orgasm, the LGBTQ-themed short film directed by Godwin Harrison and released under HUG Media Concepts, an indie, LGBTQI-led movie production company.

By Kingsley Adrian Banks

Given that there is a dearth of LGBTQ-themed movie productions from Nigerian movie production companies, perhaps because of stigma or a fear of the far-reaching arms of the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2014 (more widely known under the acronym SSMPA), it is refreshing to see a few movie producers entering into the production of movies that focuses on the Queer Narrative; aiming to give visual life to Queer voices within the intensely homophobic Nigeria.

Promotional poster for the film.

The two characters in Orgasm—portrayed by Prince Barnabas and Elvis E. respectively—are both handsome young men in their prime who were saddled with the task of bringing a forbidden (gay) love affair to life on screen. Like a lot of “hook-ups” within the Nigerian LGBT community, their meeting started from an “underground seeking” on the “Yellow App”, which is street lingo for Grindr, the world’s #1 social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people to connect.

With a promising premise of Orgasm, I sat in for an emotional ride; to see how these young men would navigate sex, love, and romance in Africa’s homophobia capital, but I must confess that the delivery was. . .underwhelming. The acting between Prince Barnabas and Elvis E. felt—to me, at least—felt like just that: acting. In a (censored) world where sexual and sensual feelings can(not) be vivid and risqué, but more understated, I would have expected these two to convey those amorous feelings, that expected heat of sexual attraction, that romantic inclination, and leaning, through even the subtlest of touches, the most fleeting but intense heated looks exchanged, or something more. . .tangible to portray sexual attraction without really portraying it. I ended up feeling left out of their story because I did not feel, or at least bear witness to their attraction for each other, or their limitations and frustrations with their situation. Maybe that’s because I didn’t see more “spirit”. . .

Furthermore, Orgasm progressed too speedily, that you’re left holding your head, feeling left out, torn out of the storyline. The meeting between our romantic duo started off on the wrong footing, then took turns for the better, but how that transcended beyond that first meeting off of the Yellow App into something tangible and lasting isn’t shown. And from there, that rapid progression continues. . .which takes me back to the earlier paragraphs where I had stated that I felt left out of their story; I just was not emotionally invested. And that, for me, was the low point of Orgasm; that feeling of being left out of the rapid storyline which felt rushed, to me, and that feeling of not being connected to the romantic duo.

While the Orgasm told a story that should be told, I feel it would have been better. I feel the storyline continuity would have been better, the characters more “into” each other.

Mr. Harrison is showing spunk and resilience in producing and directing Queer-themed stories that focus on shedding light on Queer Voices within Nigeria, and for that his effort is seriously commendable and I applaud it. I do however would love to see characters I can, even if I don’t relate to them personally, relate to their romance and their struggles with the frustrations of being gay and living gay in Nigeria, the world’s second most homophobic country next to Saudi Arabia. This is particularly important, given that gay Nigerians are confined to social media platforms and online (Queer) dating apps to engage with each other, meet each other, “hook up”, and, potentially find love.

Orgasm is now available for streaming GayBingeTV.

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