The 'Wakanda Forever' Forehead Kiss Is Really Riling Some People Up

Funny how everything is hypersexualized when it comes to queer people.
Danai Gurira, Florence Kasumba, Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong'o and Michaela Coel attend the Black Panther premiere at Cineworld Leicester Square on Nov. 3 in London.
Danai Gurira, Florence Kasumba, Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong'o and Michaela Coel attend the Black Panther premiere at Cineworld Leicester Square on Nov. 3 in London.
Sama Kai/Winston Duke via Getty Images
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Although forehead kisses aren鈥檛 typically thought of as particularly raunchy in most corners of the world, everything seems to get hypersexualized when it comes to queer people. A recent example is the forehead kiss between Aneka (Michaela Coel) and Ayo (Florence Kasumba) in 鈥淏lack Panther: Wakanda Forever,鈥 which has proven to be so controversial that the movie might be banned in countries such as China, indicating that much of the world still perceives queerness as an existential threat.

The queer undertones in the latest 鈥淏lack Panther鈥 film are just that 鈥 undertones. At no point do Aneka or Ayo explicitly declare their love for each other, much less have a sexually intimate scene together. They do engage in friendly banter at the beginning of the movie and embrace, along with exchanging said forehead kiss, at the end.

Their queerness, of course, is not imagined: The two characters were indeed written as queer in a 2017 comic, and their forbidden relationship was a significant part of its plot. Aneka鈥檚 sexual identity was also a big reason that Michaela Coel decided to take on the part.

鈥淭hat sold me on the role, the fact that my character鈥檚 queer,鈥 Coel told Vogue. 鈥淚 thought: I like that, I want to show that to Ghana.鈥 In recent years, Ghana鈥檚 human rights violations against the LGBTQ community have made headlines, particularly after a bill passed last year criminalizing any advocacy of LGBTQ identity.

In China, many Marvel movies have been banned since 2020 because of 鈥渜ueer content.鈥 The latest in the Black Panther franchise is likely to follow suit, because of its portrayed relationship between Aneka and Ayo, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Because China is such a huge market, studios have cut queer scenes in the past to appease the government鈥檚 censorship rules, including in 鈥Bohemian Rhapsody,鈥 where queer kissing scenes or any mention of the word 鈥済ay鈥 were edited out for its Chinese release. Disney, which owns Marvel, has taken stances in the past not to cut queer scenes to appease the China government, although its track record when it comes to LGBTQ representation in the U.S. is far from stellar.

It鈥檚 almost as if, by retaining the queer relationship in 鈥淏lank Panther: Wakanda Forever鈥 while still leaving it pretty obscure, Marvel tried to play the middle. It didn鈥檛 work, though. Some queer people, who had hoped for the movie to honor and accentuate Aneka and Ayo鈥檚 relationship, saw its vagueness as a cop-out. China regarded it as too explicit and banned it anyway. Perhaps this is a testament that when it comes to representation, you should either go hard or go home.

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