21st Aug2017

Internalised Homophobia

by admin

internalised homophobia picture

Being ‘different’ in a hegemonic kind of society and navigating your way around that is hard. One has to deal with binaries which exclude and limit certain ways of identifying oneself. Internalised homophobia is occupying a dominant position in every space. It is mostly the influence of society, family, friends, church community and even the spaces which we live in. It is very active and hard to identify because it is innocuous. It exists within a person who is gay. “Man you cannot do this”, “ forget about that” , “faggot”, “homo” are just some of the comments , words uttered to and around a person who might be on the verge of coming out . These are some of the causes of the fear, dislikes or hatred against oneself caused by one’s homosexuality.

This internalised homophobia causes a lot of people to remain in the ‘closet’. Yes, ‘closet’ is the name ‘it’ is given. It is known as that imaginary space that someone who is homosexual creates for him-/herself in order to be different in a safe space. Away from all the hateful comments, teasing, bullying, anti-gay jokes and negative attitudes towards those who are not heterosexual. Speaking of this makes me remember how a lot of homosexual people always raise the issue that Christians are always shoving the Bible down their throats. This is one other reason why one would have internalised homophobia. For example, one grows up in a family of Christians, learning and reading about the Sodom and Gomorrah and how it was burnt because of homosexual practices amongst other reasons. Once that particular self ‘finds’ that they have feelings to the person of the same sex they suppress these feelings by justifying their reasons for doing so by reverting back to the Bible and what society says. People who have internalised homophobia make the lives of other homosexual people hard. They hide behind what society says and use that to reduce others as a way of making them share their pain. Internalised homophobia is a very sensitive topic thus a lot of people in the LGBTIAQ++  community do not like talking about it because it is serious and requires one to put themselves in that situation. It is a social stigma and can be experienced by any non-heterosexual, including bisexuals.  Furthermore it can lead to mental illness such as substance use or an eating disorder. It is believed through psychological research that lesbians have the least internalised homophobia followed by homosexual men, then bisexual women. Bisexual men showed the greatest amount of internalised homophobia.

There are many ways of identifying internalised homophobia and that is through accepting that you have self-hate which is influenced by the heterosexist society which we live in. And remember that this is a result of cultural programming that espouses negative views around homosexuality. The best way to overcome internalised homophobia is by recognising its existence. If you think you have this particular phobia seek counselling or speak to a trusted family member who you feel comfortable speaking to. This will allow you to take the first step of coming out and living your life.

Always remember that being a homosexual is genetic- is absolutely not an illness; you didn’t ask to be this way and you can’t control your sexuality any more than you can control the colour of your eyes.

 

15th May2017

Trash Talk

by admin

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Men are trash. This is a maxim adopted by self-proclaimed radical feminists who wish to express their disdain for the status quo. A status quo in which not only do men accrue benefits such as higher pay, more career opportunities, and positions of power in society, but also are able to live their lives without fear of experiencing violence of a verbal, physical, sexual nature because of their being considered the ‘weaker sex’.  Additionally, men might be called trash because they aren’t necessarily willing to work towards changing things and enabling a more equal society (because how do you begin working against a system which benefits you?)

Moreover, arguably the trashiest of the lot might be the crowd that floods the internet, discourse, social media and really any public space to defensively declare that “not all men are trash. You are generalising, and cannot attribute the behaviour of a select few to everyone”, as if they haven’t made contributions towards the objectification of women and/or consume media that maintains that very same mandate. But it’s fine. This might qualify them as trash because instead of engaging with the actual discussion at hand, the conversation is taken and made about men and how they’ve begun to experience discrimination themselves. I might even consider myself trash. I stand to gain from the benefits of patriarchy, and while I understand and attempt to empathise with the plight of women everywhere and appreciate the need for change and serious discussions, I am unlikely to actually use my agency to change anything or even forfeit my societal privileges because I am quite removed from the situations that women find themselves in.

However, I identify with a different kind of struggle.

Society’s perceived hatred of women can be linked to the fragility of masculinity, and masculinity’s need to maintain its hegemony because that’s just the way things are. Anything that is seen to deviate from masculinity is considered abhorrent and inherently less. These attitudes play out in a number of different ways. Homophobia, could be related to the need to maintain heteronormativity, which essentially empowers masculinity because in a “traditional” heterosexual relationship, men are seen as being dominant. The Bible (and John Milton’s Paradise Lost) even say so.

We must concede that it is possible for women to benefit from heteronormativity, should they identify as heterosexual, in a way that men and women who don’t, would not. Heteronormativity occupies hegemony in society, which seems to be arguably why we wouldn’t generally hear of such a thing as homonormativity. When you do hear of homonormativity, it is in relation to how homosexuality aligns itself to the ideals and constructs of heterosexuality, such as marriage, monogamy and procreation. This alignment implies that that there is a normal, but it isn’t homosexuality, and there are women who can find themselves within heteronormativity and find privileges that their queer counterparts would not. This is not to suggest that women’s issues are not as pressing and imperative as queer issues, however, intersectionality dictates that we be inclusive and genuine in relation to identity politics.

To have this authentic, genuine debate, a few concessions must be made:

It is possible that women can occupy certain hegemonic roles that are exclusive towards certain other lived experiences. White women, for instance, have certain privileges. As do heterosexual women, when compared to queer bodies, perhaps on the basis of religion. Interestingly, religion tends to relegate women to certain unfavourable roles in society. We must also discuss the amount of cultural appropriation that might occur on the part of women with regards to queer culture and language; concepts such as shade, reading, “yasss” and “hunny”. The erasure of the lived experiences of queer bodies that can be seen in television shows for instance when they are made the “sassy gay best friend” or “pet”. The contribution they make to the cisheteropatriarchy’s violence against the queer body and lived experience when the church makes admonishments against queer people for simply being. The failure to say anything when their pastors, fathers, brothers and lovers decide that the only good queer person is a dead one, or at least one that knows that they ought to be dead. Perhaps, even when mothers kick their sons out because they gave birth to boys and not girls or sissies. Women.

It is also necessary to point out that there is a phenomenon of gay misogyny. Gay men might be gay, but they are also men. However, we cannot regard any struggles in isolation. Because while women are being harmed and killed by the men they trust to protect them; Chechnya has set up a concentration camp where gay men are kept and tortured and killed. In 2017. I don’t know. Men truly are trash. Even making the above arguments probably makes me trash. But I too buckle under the pressures and the abuses of heteronormativity and the cisheteropatriarchy.

To the women who face violence on a number of levels during every single second of every single day, you are Goddesses.

To our queer brothers and sisters: slay and werk, you are Queens.
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08th May2017

LGBTIAQ+

by admin

One Community One Love

Being ignorant can leave you confused once you wake up and realise what is going on around you. Ignorance can make you resist change and you end up being aggressive. What makes me say these words is because I feel that a lot of people in the heterosexual community are being ignorant about the LBTIAQ+ community. This leads to gay bashing, so called ‘corrective rape’ and all of the discriminative actions that is against the members of the homosexual community.

The words gay and lesbian have both been misused and misinterpreted. Whenever a ‘straight’ person tries to identify a homosexual person, the words come up and I sometimes wonder if the person using the words understands what they mean, what kind of power is linked to them, and how the wrong use of the words can lead to a lot of bad consequences. Looking at the title of this article one would ask ‘ him’ or ‘herself’ what each letter stand for and why there is an addition sign at the end but what is important is what each letter means . My aim is not to try and explain what a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersexual, Asexual, Queer and other sexual orientations and gender are but to give you an overview of what one can expect when encountering a member who identifies as such. My hope is that once I have given you this overview you will go out and do your own research because my overview is not enough for one to depend on.

A Lesbian is a woman who is sexually attracted to women. Please note that not all Lesbian people dress, walk or talk like boys. There are different people who identify as Lesbian but do not embody a masculine persona in public.  A Gay person is a man who is sexually attracted to other men. Not all Gay people are loud and flamboyant. Not all Gay people speak, dress or walk like girls. There are different people who identify as Gay but do not embody a girly appearance. A Bisexual person is someone who is sexually attracted to both men and women. People who identify as Bisexual are not greedy; they are just attracted to both sexes. They do not demonstrate any stereotypes whatsoever and are just like any ‘straight’ person in appearance. A Transgender person is a person whose gender identity, expression or behaviour is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth. I know this sounds confusing but do not panic, that is how it is. Transgender people can wear anyway they decide to and date any gender they desire. In appearance they can look confusing but as I said do not panic just act normal, they are also HUMAN! The following I am just going to try and explain what they mean because there is much that goes along with them and I would not want to say things which might mislead some people. An Intersexual person is a person who is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit with the typical female or male definitions. An Asexual person is a person who does not experience sexual attraction. A Queer person is a person who wishes to not categorise their sex, sexuality or gender.

I hope, after reading this article, some people develop a sense of understanding of the different people who live in our communities. I hope my words did not offend anyone or give a wrong notion of any group of members in the LGBTIAQ+ community. I was simply trying to explain to the ‘straight’ community and those that are ignorant about what is going on within their different communities. For more information I suggest that you should do your own research by looking up on the internet or approaching people of the community.

Remember, THIS IS SOUTH AFRICA!!!

 

16th Apr2017

“I don’t Understand Heterosexual Relationship” “Neither do I”

by admin

Love

We are all taught from a young age that women are supposed to love men and men are supposed to care for women. This, we are told, is right and fair. Depending on your background, it appears that love has been legislated for us and we are merely expected just follow. This is a restricted realm which (in retrospect) should be easy to navigate, as patriarchy determines. The male and female gender roles have been outlined. Even though we may not choose or try hard to not ascribe to them, they are still there. This is why I don’t understand heterosexual relationships. Why are they so hard?

The heterosexual perspective on homosexual relationships however, has always stemmed from confusion. It seems like those who choose to explore these relationships want nothing more than to prove their incongruence to what they feel is “the law of nature”. Most see homosexual relationships as a taboo while I see them as having a freedom. All human beings are quick to say that we cannot choose who we fall in love with but are also quick to say which relationships one is allowed to choose. The argument that the homosexual relationship is one based on lust alone is one that I don’t understand and with the above statement, one I cannot explain. Saying “we can’t choose who we fall in love with” is a clear indication that we all share the common belief that love demands not to be legislated but still we choose to legislate it.

Therefore, I think that homosexual relationships are one of the purest examples of romance. It interests me more than anything how someone can love someone unconditionally despite their own personal struggles against society. The purity in the emotional connections shared between is beautiful in my opinion. They love, not because they are told to but, despite being told not to. Think about it, lust is lust and needs no explaining, however people spend time and time again fighting for their right to love. What is more romantic than that? There is patriarchy in everything, however people choose, despite the struggles involved, to love.

In a heterosexual relationship, who pays the bill on the first date, opens the door, cooks at home, and is supposed to make more money? What have you been told the answer should be? In a homosexual relationship, what then becomes the answer? Where some might find confusion, I find intrigue. It’s the simple things that say I love you and more so when they are by choice. The feeling of love is not legislated. No feeling ever is. It is innate and real, and with all the struggles homosexual people must fight against, who would choose love like that?

10th Apr2017

#QueerRap

by admin

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In 2012, singer-songwriter, rapper and record producer Frank Ocean made headlines when he confessed that he had fallen in love with a man at the age of 19, in an open letter posted to Tumblr. He drew even more attention when people assumed that some of the songs on his Channel Orange album were addressed to a man. In the post, Ocean wrote:” 4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence. Until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realised I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating the feeling. No choice. It was my first love. It changed my life.” For the most part, the artist has left his sexuality ambiguous, choosing not to label himself as being either gay, bisexual, pansexual, or really any of the labels that people are expected to adopt and wear either as a scarlet A, or a badge of pride (which is highly unlikely). It is my firm belief that people who identify with whatever sexual orientation or gender identity they do, are only expected to do so because cisgender, heterosexual and patriarchal society needs a name to put to all of this identity in order to other it. It is a lot easier to hate something you choose to not understand if, at the very least, you have something to call it.

The poignancy and honesty of Ocean’s (real name Christopher Breaux) post drew numerous declarations of support. A number of black, male rappers took to social media to praise his courage, among them 50 Cent and Tyler, the Creator. This is particularly noteworthy because homosexuality (or really any sexuality that is not macho heterosexuality) is not normally met with kindness and understanding. Rap as a genre has been characterised by homophobic and misogynistic lyrics. Often times it is not easy to separate the misogyny and homophobia – nor is it necessary to. At times it seems as though homophobia occurs because of a perceived proximity to femininity – an individual who identifies as male being seen as mimicking a woman simply for loving a man. This might be rooted in how little our society has thought of women, and the understanding that anything that resembles femininity is undeserving of any respect. It might be necessary to point out that my earlier thought does not seem to account for women who might love other women in a romantic way. Still, women who identify as lesbian frequently fall victim to all manner of abuse, physical and sexual. The current scourge of “corrective rape” proves just how much men might assume ownership and control over women’s bodies.

This then begs the question; (how) is it possible to reconcile the public displays of support – if it can be called that – shown to Frank Ocean after his confession, with the rampant homophobic and misogynistic culture that hip-hop music festers and thrives in? More often than not, this is a question that goes unanswered. The question of how can you claim to love women, respect someone’s sexuality and appreciate the lives and lived experiences of black people, when you effectively disregard their humanity and differences?

A noteworthy response to the homophobia and abuse within not only hip-hop music, but society as a whole, is the personified status quo disruption known as S’bonakaliso Nene, known as Gyre. Gyre is a queer rapper, who also happens to be a student at Wits University. Gyre is noteworthy because he embraces his being queer, thriving in a genre of music that can be considered highly abusive to his lived experiences. In a recent interview on the SABC 1 youth show, Expressions, Gyre pointed out that he saw the queer community as being an evolutionary leap, “like the mutants on X-men. We’re like those people.” He believed that being a queer individual is something to embrace, and being a rapper who is unabashedly queer contributes to his mandate of being disruptive in spaces that have grown far too comfortable in their bigotry and abuse. On the TV show, Gyre gave a live performance of his most recent song, called Premium Bottom, wearing the most beautiful pair of tight jeans I have ever seen, and a headwrap. In his song, which has been dubbed a #BottomsAnthem, Gyre effectively addresses not only homophobia and exclusion, but even bottom shaming within the gay community. Gyre serves, and exists as a grand antithesis to the rejection that the queer community faces at the hands of society by making a bold reclamation of his and the identities of a proud community.

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27th Mar2017

Society and the “GayZ”

by admin

 

It is very amazing how Christians react to PEOPLE in the LGBTIAQ+ community. For those who do not understand what LGBTIAQ+ stands for, let me teach you. It stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexual, asexual, queer and other sexual orientations and gender identities but I will get more into detail on those in upcoming editions (Wits Pride).

 

There is a scripture in the bible that reads “Thou shalt not judge”, but what we encounter is the script being ignored by those who call themselves the ‘superior Christians’. I am not against Christianity, but I am against false practice of Christianity. I have realised that a lot of PEOPLE in the LGBTIAQ+ community do not attend church. This is not because they do not want to. Rather it is because of the Christian society that judges their sexuality.

 

Although it is a sin to have same sex marriage, it is equally a sin to judge. When the society judges an LGBTIAQ+ member, they quote the infamous Sodom and Gomorrah. They may think they are spreading the word (which is true) but they are also destroying the kingdom of the Almighty. They forget that they too did not just wake up and decide to be male or female. If you now anyone who is a member of the LGBTIAQ+ but does not identify as such, I am sure you understand what I’m talking about. LGBTIAQ+ people did not just wake up and decide to be different. Some were born gay, lesbian and all that but some were forced by uncontrollable and uncomfortable situations to identify as members of the LGBTIAQ+ community.

 

A good example of what I mean is thus follows. A boy who cannot be named was living with his uncle in the rural areas. The boy hand an androgynous look. The uncle was the bread winner. Because of his being the head of the household, culturally whatever he said was to be obeyed, even though it seemed wrong. The uncle (who was unmarried) started raping the boy every day. The boy got used to the way things were because he had nowhere to go. This gave him the thought that that is the way things are. The rape lasted until grade six and the boy started dating other boys. The story is an extreme case. Most of the time, members of the LGBTIAQ+ community do not have to go through extreme trauma to become members of the community. I know some many criticize the situation but you just have to put yourself in the boy’s shoes. What would you have done? I know he had a choice to run away but where was he going to run to ‘Ezilaleni’ (in the rural areas)? What was he going to eat? Even if he tried telling, no one would believe him because culture rules.

 

It is hard living life where people around you are always questioning and judging the way you live. Being a member of the LGBTIAQ+ community is not wrong but using the word of God to dehumanise other people is wrong. What I am just trying to say is that people in the LGBTIAQ+ community are also human. Love thy neighbour like you love yourself I remind you. If you have a problem with LGBTIAQ+ people you will just have to keep it to yourself. I am just saying! This is South Africa so keep calm and allow yourself to become part of the true Rainbow Nation.

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20th Mar2017

Gender and Sexuality Issues Under the Political Lens

by admin

Gender inequality and discrimination based on sexuality have always been issues that have brought with them pertinent discussions and debates. A lot of “important people” debate and deliver speeches about issues on social media platforms; however, the truth is we have never really seen any of these problems being practically addressed. We live in a country where equality and fairness are always encouraged; the representation of all people is something that is highly emphasised. However, this does not reflect the reality for most people. Please note that this article is based on my own personal views and opinions and I do stand to be corrected.

For years we have been about feminism this and feminism that. And I say “we” because I, myself have been a part of those who have considered themselves a feminist without really taking into account the conditions under which feminism exists in this country. After attending the Feminism Indibano organised by SASCO Wits (credit ought to be given to the speakers) I have come to believe that feminism is not only about our social stance; it is also about how our political institutions have a bigger role in reinforcing what the social institutions preach. The social hierarchy pyramid places us black women at the very bottom, with black men right above us. This means that black women have three privileged groups “oppressing” them. For years, non-feminist have not understood the fuss around being “equal” has been about; and have went on complaining about how black women want to be “equal” to men. The truth is that WE DON’T AND HAVE NEVER WANTED TO BE THE SAME AS, AND EQUAL TO, these other groups. Why be equal to a black man who is oppressed on the basis of his race? Why be equal to a white woman, when her gender disadvantages her? And why be equal to a white man who has the ultimate power over our lives and could oppress us at any given time? However, this is a story for another day.

The main issue at hand is, how are our political institutions addressing sexuality inequality and discrimination? As much as we have a women’s league in South Africa, what has its role been in ensuring that women are well represented in state government? Of all the premiers in the current cabinet only one is female. This brings forth the question about what the state is saying about its faith in women leadership and its stance on the patriarchs who constantly take feminist movements two steps back. The political field as a whole is held by men and is also driven by them. And as long as such issues are not reinforced in the one “field” that practically runs everything issues of such importance will never be adequately addressed.

Coming to the representation of sexuality in our country, well, this has been a dismal fail. This is despite there being a youth league that is supposed to be representing the young people as well as ensuring the problems the youth are encountering are addressed by the national government. We are facing a difficult time of being discriminated against on the grounds of our sexuality. We are facing high rates of unemployment. And as students, we are faced with the challenge of high university fees whilst we are making the call for free decolonised education. How is our youth league attempting to address such? We ought to have a division in the youth league which will be mainly run by people who know the struggles which come with being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (part of the LGBT community). We may all be young people; however, we do not all face the same daily challenges. It is for this reason that I believe that political institutions should be inclusive and regularly address issues related to those of genders/sexuality regardless of economic status. And as much as we would like to mostly focus on women, we cannot ignore the fact that there are “men” who identify as women and “women” who identify as men. Thus, we have to consider the discrimination that comes with that identification. Politics practically run this world, and if issues of such importance cannot be addressed using politics, then clearly equality will never exist.

Please do excuse the lack of academic language in this article, but I do hope it provokes thoughts and questions about what role the political arena is, and should, be playing in creating a gender/sexuality inclusive environment in the country.

Gender

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