Each year, thousands of LGBTQI individuals face cruel and intolerable acts of violence in their mother countries. The lucky ones who are able to flee to somewhere presumably safer must then seek asylum, the arduous and painstaking process of petitioning for legal protection against citizens of the nation they, at one time, called home.
The National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) aims to shed light on this matter via its series AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, a public television program dedicated to presenting stories pertinent to the African diaspora. In its fifth season, which is hosted by Oscar-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe, AfroPoP brings us web short series “Seeking Asylum,” a four-part documentary produced by Selly Thiam and Samantha Stark for their None on Record project. “Seeking Asylum” follows the lives of queer Africans (from Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe) who pursue refuge abroad to escape persecution in their homeland.
Zimbabewean Skye Tenevimbo is one of four individuals featured in this eye-opening series. At age ten, her first same-sex experience confirmed why she’d always felt different from all the other girls: she was a lesbian. But, the backlash she received from being caught by a family member confirmed something else: neither her family nor her nation would ever accept who she was. Skye moved to England, far from Zimbabwe’s violently homophobic environment, where she could live “out and proud” for the first time in her life. She became an activist and a writer, even speaking out against Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, and his anti-gay stance. However, when her crusade started to cause problems for her family back home, Skye knew that a line had been drawn in the sand, making it impossible for her to ever return to her native land. That’s when she decided to seek asylum.
Watch Skye’s story below and click here to view additional “Seeking Asylum” shorts. You can also visit blackpublicmedia.org to learn more about the NBPC and its programs and don’t forget to check your local listings to catch the newest season of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange on the World Channel.