We’ve now launched the latest story in our Their Story, Your Choice interactive video series.
In this series, viewers help characters navigate everyday dilemmas centred on love, life, sex and living with HIV by taking the decisions into their own hands. In the latest story, Kwame and Nabil, viewers watch our characters contend with situations that some gay and bisexual men from UK’s ethnic minority groups face within their sexual, family and romantic relationships.
Kwame and Nabil was directed and produced for us by actor and director Leon Lopez in conjunction with his production company Brown Boy Productions. It follows Kwame and Nabil as they juggle relationships, kids, family expectations and secrets after their worlds collide.
The stories in these films have been inspired by the real-life experiences of BAME gay and bisexual men in the UK. Kwame and Nabil’s story is particularly personal to Leon, who says: 'In my experience, I’ve been aware of the way that pressure from family and society on men of colour, specifically black and south Asian men who have sex with men, can be a leading cause when it comes to neglecting sexual health.
'Today, the advancements in medicine means that HIV is no longer an issue when it comes to having a healthy sex life, however if you are afraid to test because of stigma then you chance putting yourself and others at risk.
'This particular story is of great importance to me as a black gay man. It is actually the original story I envisioned when Terrence Higgins Trust approached me to make the series. We were initially funded for a different set of films, so I was delighted when Public Health England agreed to help fund the project with this specific focus.'
Leon says: 'Black and south Asian men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately affected by poor sexual health, including STIs and HIV, in the UK. Between the years 2014 and 2019 there has been an overall reduction of new HIV diagnoses, but the reduction is far greater among white gay men. New HIV diagnoses among white MSM were reduced by 57%, but only by 32% for Asian MSM, and only 47% for black MSM. It's clear that progress isn’t being made as quickly among BAME MSM groups. Our film series aims to raise awareness of this, while allowing people to see their stories reflected on screen.
'The situations in which the characters in our films find themselves aren’t purely reflective of a singular set of experiences. This isn’t just a "gay story" and, although the characters are black and south Asian, the issues they face are experienced by men of all races. These men could be your brother, your father, your work colleague or you.
'Men living double lives in order to feel accepted; they have families who they have lied to. Even if you don’t identify as one of the men you may identify as someone who knows someone like them so this story is for everyone. I believe we all have our part to play when it comes to ending stigma surrounding HIV and I hope this series can play a small part in helping people on that journey.'