Africa

On TV today: Upbeat view of LGBT-friendly African isle

The film "Tchindas" focuses on preparations for carnival by a trans community in Cape Verde off the coast of West Africa. (Photo courtesy of Outfest)

The film “Tchindas” focuses on preparations for carnival by a trans community in Cape Verde off the coast of West Africa. (Photo courtesy of Outfest)

The upbeat, groundbreaking LGBT-focused documentary film “Tchindas” will be shown on PBS in the United States today (Feb. 1).  It will appear on the show “AfroPop,” starting at 8 p.m. in many places; check your local station for the specific local schedule.

After first seeing “Tchindas” last summer, I published the article “On African island, ‘Tchindas’ goes beyond LGBTI acceptance,” starting with these paragraphs:

I expected to see a documentary about LGBTI people who were accepted by their neighbors in a tolerant community of the Cape Verde islands, off the coast of West Africa.

That would have been an amazing contrast to the violent homophobia and transphobia that infects dozens of African countries.

But I saw much more than that. Those neighbors weren’t just accepting, but positively enthusiastic about joining with the LGBTI team that was preparing their annual float for the island’s Carnival parade. Parents brought their children to rehearsals for the lines of dancers who would march alongside the float. If possible, they wanted their daughters positioned as mermaids kneeling at the front of the float, between swaying trans women.

Pablo Garcia with Tchinda Andrade (Photo courtesy of Tchindas.com)

Pablo Garcia with Tchinda Andrade (Photo courtesy of Tchindas.com)

For more information about the film and today’s showings, see:

Here is the PBS/World description of “Tchindas”:

Carnival in São Vicente, Cape Verde. (Photo courtesy of Tchindas.com)

Carnival in São Vicente, Cape Verde. (Photo courtesy of Tchindas.com)

Calm reigns in Sâo Vicente, a small Cape Verdean island off the West Coast of Africa, where most of the residents have never moved away. In the island’s port city of Mindelo, Tchinda is one of the community’s most beloved women especially after coming out as a transgender person in the local newspaper in 1998. Since then, her name has become synonymous with the way local people call queer Cape Verdeans. Tchinda, who sells “coxinhas” (a Brazilian street food) by day, is responsible for security at her bar in the evening as music and grog, the famous local rum, permeates every corner of the island.

In February, the island evolves as thousands of people pack into the streets for Carnival. The days leading up to the event are hectic with the locals working together to make something beautiful out of nothing; they recycle everything they can to create a structure that will be more magical every day.

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