If ever there was a time that the LGBTQ+ community needed powerful voices in our corner it is now. The trouble is that for them to get to a place where they can be heard and make a real difference is getting even more impossible in the present political climate. Not that Malcolm Kenyatta was aiming to just represent the queer community in his home state of Pennsylvania, but his attempt to run for the US Senate was severely hampered by the fact that he is a gay man of color.
Tim Harris‘s documentary Kenyatta: Do Not Wait Your Turn the inspiring story of Malcolm Kenyatta’s political campaign really grabs you both mentally and emotionally. When the final credits roll you simply just want to dash off and vote for him, It is of course too late but you know that even though he may have fallen at this hurdle, Kenyatta will be back.
He is already a popular and successful State Representative for one of the poorest districts of Pennsylvania. It’s when he declares himself a candidate for the Senate, that he really learns how tough it is for anyone who is not a cis white male. Even though his credentials are impeccable and his campaigning style is faultless it will be no match for his main opponent the ex-Lieut. Governor John Fetterman. He’s a very large disheveled man approaching 7′ who has a wealthy base and name recognition. However Fetterman’s past includes pointing a shotgun at a black jogger who he claims he thought was a criminal, and he is so overconfident he doesn’t bother showing up for the first official televised Candidate Debate.
It’s not all bad news for Kenyetta as he wins the endorsement of the State’s biggest Union, and his supporters are the most passionate of all …. it’s just there are not enough of them. Plus he can never escape the fact that some people who want to support him, at the end back down claiming that he has too much to overcome to be electable.
Parallel to the campaign story Harris also focuses on Kenyatta’s personal story and in particular his burgeoning love story with Dr. Matt Miller who becomes his husband. How the couple’s journey intertwines with the campaign is refreshing and touching and a sheer joy to witness. It also allows us to witness the fact its such a remarkable source of comfort to Kenyatta when the going gets particularly tough
When Kenyatta was first elected to the State Legislature former President Barack Obama said “things have changed, having a brother in the state legislature with that haircut, that’s a change,” He was partly right, but when someone Kenyatta the most perfectly qualified candidate cannot break in further up the chain, then we still have a helluva long way to go.
The celebrated TV weatherman Al Roker come on board as an executive producer as he said “the main reason he became involved in the film was to bring stories from various perspectives to viewers that would then allow them to expand their horizons” He added “This was a story about breaking barriers, about moving into people who would have never thought about running for office not so long ago,”
Kenyatta set us all such a fine example….. and he’s right…we never should not just wait for our turn.
PS The North American premiere is at 2023 Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC Film Festival. on 4/1
Review : Roger Walker-Dack
Editor in Chief : Queerguru Member of G.A.L.E.C.A. (Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association) and NLGJA The Association of LGBT Journalists. and The Online Film Critics Society. Ex Contributung Editor The Gay Uk &Contributor Edge Media Former CEO and Menswear Designer of Roger Dack Ltd in the UK one of the hardest-working journalists in the business' Michael Goff of Towleroad