Monday, January 16, 2017

Why Advocate?

Question I have been asking myself.

Why, why do I have to spare a little time from my busy schedule, spend it to rant and rave...

Its because I can. And because it concerns me. And because..., how will I look myself in the mirror, when I know I could have, and didnt?
And, it is something within my capacity, as a human being.

In the holidays, met this guy. Gay, obviously. Such an obviously queer African that if I hadnt been told, I would have known from a glance....

Grew up in the depths of Africa. In a village. And, got married. Three kids. And home life is a drag. He travels to work, and is less stressed away from home than at home.

Illiterate, and how would he know that he is no more than the village freak, a man that even the in-laws treat with obvious contempt?

Who will tell his tale?

I can, but, why should I?

Because he is me, a few years ago. Lost in myself, so severely hurt that I found it a miracle that there were other gay people out there. They might have been miles and eons away, but the very existence of them was a miracle to me.
Because he is me as I was, and I am no longer him as he is....,

I will tell his tale.

I will be busy, and spare a few minutes today, to rant a little, or rave, or with clear conniving manipulative logic, seek to put my opinion forwards.

I love the way Barack Obama put it in his farewell address.
But remember, none of this happens on its own. All of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging.
Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it's really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. (Applause.) We, the people, give it meaning. With our participation, and with the choices that we make, and the alliances that we forge. (Applause.) Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. That's up to us. .... But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.
Sober words. And I have to remember them.

That's why I have to exercise the precious rights that I have realised, precious as they have been, and exercise them. Otherwise, some sleezy politician, as slick as they come, will most likely try to batter and tread my rights.

As one queer person, Kimberly Knight, put it very eloquently
I admit it, this homosexual IS demanding special rights
Because as it turns out, civil rights are in fact special rights because they are rationed and rare.
 
First, some of the rights we seek are indeed special because there is nothing ordinary about the right to personal dignity and safety. There is nothing ordinary about exchanging vows with the love of your life. More than special, these things are sacred. 
But because these (and other rights) are not accessible to all, they are special in a way they should not be. 

And, because they are so special, and so sacred, and so rare,

Yeah, I have indeed to get off my butt, spare a few minutes a day, to document and talk and opinionate and rant...
and generally push the very special and spectacularly rare and sacred gay and queer agenda.

Because. I must.

gug

Friday, January 6, 2017

Happiness, Love, Great Expectations in 2017!

Lo and behold, and it was 2017!

Happy New Year, to all out there.

I was off, very happily. My boo planned this Christmas vacation, in his usual truck rolling all in its way manner...., and I found myself off into the depth of the village. Yes electricity (gosh, what would I, silly city kid that I have become, do without that!!!!) Yes, have done without it at important times in my very long life..., but, not now, fingers crossed!

But, there was limited access to the internet. And, as for the phones, I was looking at people waving around theirs in the air at occasions, trying to grab the ether at irregular intervals....! Duh, no phone and internet! But, there was cable TV..... lol, and lots of sky, and bush, and air....., beautiful, clear air. Crystal clear in the morning. Sometimes a pervase heat that made us all lazy and panting...., and other times rain that clothed the earth in a mist horizon to horizon. And played havoc with the poor reception of everything!

City kids...., we zoom off to the nearest city in case we get tired...., and laugh and sing and dance and enjoy the company of others...., and come back tired to sleep. What joy...... And of course, no phones ringing, no internet and news to search for and soak in, as I have just been doing! Yeah, a different definition of happiness, with a pleasing lack of the usual stressors.

Coming back, the internet awaits. The social networks that were neglected, and the friends that thought us lost to sense..., and full inboxes, and everything that we know and love still.

But, it was a beautiful time. And now, we have new challenges, and a new year, that is promising on so many levels. One of which is of course this outpouring of thought.

What of 2017?

I am very optimistic. It is a new year. And, I am alive. And the family is okay. Of course there are issues as always. Yet the over-riding sense of thankfulness for a long year ended, and the looking forwards to a new year...., it is there. A beautiful new year has started, and though all things seem unchanged and the same, yet is in my bones that nothing is the same as before. We are changed, even if it is just aging by one more year!!!!

Congratulations to Anele Mkuzo and Seipati Magape. They got married in 2016..., after a two year courtship. Looking at the few pics published by Ghafla! of Kenya, it was a beautiful, tear jerker of a ceremony.
I know of lots of my gay male friends who would go all gaga on seeing these pics. Beautiful women. Sweethearts. Daintly exchanging wedding vows.
Dare I say many would swoon..., and start complaining as to how our lesbian sisters have it all made for them with regards to relationships? Not the fly-by-night things that most gay men are conversant with..., so much. LOL. Sex is good and great, but sharing mind, body and soul with a soul mate..., now, that is heaven on earth.

Children of the new South Africa, they are living the ultimate dream of the Queer African. The fulfillment of the dream of dreams. Recognition and legal acknowledgment. Before all the world and then some!
And, when Mkuzo is asked about plans for the future..., finishing studies is first, and yes, also the desire of most couples...., a football team of little ones dodging around the house of their dreams......!

Sigh, sigh, sigh...., in envious greed and desire!

Of course, there is a difference of opinions...! Hahaha. Mkuzo is all in for the football team, but it seems Seipati is not very ready for the sleepless nights and changing of dirty diapers.

Sigh. Domestic felicity! What would it be without that kind of disagreement, to resolve in years, with maybe a few babies, loved by both parents to the depths of their hearts, and seeing the babies grow up in a renewed beautiful South Africa where Queer South Africans are held in the esteem as other South Africans!

Definitely, the haters disagree. They would love to poison such love with their dismissal and disapproval. I believe Ghafla! was playing newspaper headline...., Mkuzo was talking about buying a house..., and having babies...., and Ghafla seized on the wording...., lol.

So, the lesbian couple wants to buy babies?!

Come on!!! They actually dont need to 'buy' any....! 

But why mix up the bitterness of ignorance and hatred in this love story? Sadly, because, in the dehumanisation that follows us as queer human beings, we are politicised as being anti-family.., whatever that means. We actually come from families...., usually straight families. We would like our lovers..., and would love to be acknowledged publicly, and get hitched in heterosexual like weddings as our more numerous straight friends. Hey, we are simply the same. We are just human beings! Not angels, and definately not demons!

We want our very own families. Me. My boo. Plus kids. As many as we both want. Our families.

So, of course, with marriage, children yes! For those who love to have us. And, yes, we do procreate.
Goodness, the Mufti of Uganda once proposed a Final Solution for queer Ugandans. Exile them to an island in Lake Victoria. Let them die out since they cant have children.
The breadth of ignorance based homophobia in Africa is frighteningly deep. Arent queer Africans born from straight African relationships?Or are we products of immaculate conception???!!!

Personally, I seriously believe in the latter theory.

Way to go, Mkuzo and Seipati..., have a lovely and fantastic life and new year 2017.

You may not realise the iconic-ism behind your beautiful wedding, for most of us on the continent, but, you are a beautiful beacon of hope.

And, may you have your football team, or less, as you desire, of beautiful children!

gug

Monday, December 19, 2016

Of Criminalisation of bodies....., Queer African Bodies

Busy day.

Okay, havent blogged, because have literally been too under....! I claim it is party time. You know, the round of 'Christmas Parties' that break out at any excuse because of the December hols. Time to meet new people, get to know others, visit relatives and friends, and venture out into the wide world...., far from the comfort zone.

But, of course, our world doesnt stay static. Always moving forwards.

Queer Africans. Please...., stay safe during these hols. I know, nothing like December hols, long or short, for a gay man on the loose......! And of course, there is this thing of the 'internet' and 'social networks'.....!!!

Just be safe...! Yeah, look to yourself because we NEED you around!

Okay..., now,

Something to sober me up from my holiday high spirits. 2 guys in Tunisia are for trial Jan 6th....,, for the crime of being 'Gay on the Street'. 
And, how can one be gay on the street? 

Well, here, I did quote the story of a guy who was killed for being 'Gay by Mistake' in Nigeria.

Apparently, gay on the street in Tunisia means being somehow identified as gay by a policeman. Tunisian policemen have inbuilt gay barometers (part of requirement to qualify as a Tunisian Policeman!!!! LOL)  to screen and arrest these suspicious characters....., and prove that they are gay by using anal tests.

Achref, a 20-year-old student, said he was arrested on Dec. 7 with Sabri, 22, while the two were on a street in downtown Sousse.

A policeman asked him, “You were doing something with your boyfriend, were you not? You bring a curse on the country.”
..... Achref implied that the two young men were arrested on the basis of their perceived sexual orientation, not for their actions.
Just wondering what they 'did' on the street that was such an 'embarassment' or curse to the whole great nation of Tunisia.....

Sighhhhhhh........

And, getting to a post that was stillborn...., Chad now boasts of an anti-gay law. Poor #GayChadians.

It is a 'misdemeanor' which apparently can be dealt with by a 'police court or a correctional hearing'....

Being no expert in law..., even #Chadian law, I only see the criminalisation of my love for another, my partner. Matter of fact, all over Africa, we know that the anti-gay stigma is very strong. Yet, when it is not written into the law, there is something 'light' about it. The likes of Pastor the Homophobe eat-da-poo-poo Martin Ssempa will not be having us arrested. The vigilante committees as is happening in Nigeria will not be taking us down, invading our houses, on suspicion of us being gay.

But when it is written into the law...., that is a whole new deal, as the HRW report on the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act in Nigeria shows. Life is simply no longer the same...., even when politicians are happy that they have not tainted their lily white hands with gay blood by writing the Death Penalty into the law.

That was Uganda.

A very long time ago? It is, and it isnt.

Because the fights that we have are still the same. We are still at risk, wherever we are......!

Now, have to go for my evening 'constitutional'...., lol. Sometimes have to let the angry thoughts disappear into the ether...., forget that the world, our world can be so angry and hating and hateful.

And my lover promised to always walk with me.

I have the real privilege to walk with my man on the streets, today, as always. And the distinct privilege not to be arrested on the streets for 'walking while gay'. I will celebrate that freedom that was earned in the blood that poured for decades and years, and the imprisonment of many.

I go for an evening walk with my man.


gug

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

On Anti-Gay Hate

Been thinking about anti-gay hate.

Yeah, partly sparked by Somizi Mhlongo's outburst, 'Your hate will not make me Straight'!!!

And, it is hate that we are speaking about. The hate is clothed in many things. Religion. Culture. Nationalism...., etc. But, it is hate. 

I remember Pastor Martin Ssempa holding rallies in Uganda for the anti-homosexuality bill, asking for it to be passed into law. Showing films of gay porn in churches and conferences..., to whip up disgust and hate of 'what we do behind closed doors'. Was it fear, a phobia driving this level of hatred against fellow human beings?

One gay activist strongly argues that the word is too light, and misdirecting. Don Kilhefner argues
The word “phobia,” meaning “fear,” belongs to the lexicon of clinical psychology, not sociopolitical discourse regarding social privilege and societal change. The word “homophobia” trivializes and obfuscates what is really happening to gay people in the United States and globally now and historically. It says nothing about the source of a system that breeds gay and lesbian genocide.
It certainly seems tame to me to label as a 'fear' an apparent system that systematically dehumanises a part of humanity. For, we have to fall back on that, that we are human beings, first and foremost. And, the need to make us less than human, and then be able to do things that are only justifiable because we are supposedly less than human is something that....

Is fear the motivation?

Hmmm, in his killing of gays in Europe in Nazi Germany, was Hitler motivated by fear? Somalia, Bangladesh, Iraq, the ISIS held territories, is fear the motivation to outright brutal murder of gay people?

Apparently recently, the 'National Organisation of Marriage' spread its wings to become 'International;'.  And the first conference was held in Cape Town, South Africa. Ironically the only country on the continent that allows Queer Africans to tie the knot...., and in the gayest city of all. Was it carrying the battle to the enemy? LOLEST

Anyway, Queer people are labelled anti-marriage....., a misnomer if there was one. Of course we are not against straight people getting married. And, when we do want to get married, it is usually for the simplest of things. Love.

Anyway, we are supposed to be demons...., so we have to have some horns and tails hidden somewhere.

At the conference, the envoy of Nigeria was lauded for laws that have made Nigeria a documented hell for the Queer Nigerian. And, besides being clueless as to the real effects of that law..., the honourable envoy was spouting the usual garbage. Okay, she was telling the frank lies and myths similar to the ones Ssempa and co used in Uganda to promote the anti-homosexuality bill.
The ambassador, who was part of Nigeria`s delegation to the Congress, said it had become necessary to educate Nigerian youths on the need to resist the temptation of being lured into homosexuality as a means of survival. 
“ The Congress is very important for our social and youth development in Nigeria. Our youths should be sensitised on the dangers of homosexuality. “ Many Nigerians youths, especially those involved in illegal economic migration, have fallen prey to homosexual practices. “Many Nigerian youths abroad are now becoming gay because of economic inducement, either to legalise their documents or to get jobs and they bring back diseases like HIV/AIDS back to the country,” she said.

Listening to this, one should come up in arms to protect the innocence of the said youths.......,

Sigh, is it fear that stops them from actually having a conversation with say, a single gay Nigerian to get their facts right? Or a real gay Nigerians too fearful of coming out in the state of terror induced by the anti-same sex marriage law?

Let me end by sharing this story from a Nigerian news site. A middle aged man was threatened by local youths because he was thought gay. He moved away from home. When his brother comes visiting their mother, he is mistaken for the supposedly gay brother..., and beaten to death.
Some youths in Durumi II, a slum in Gudu District, Abuja, have allegedly killed a middle aged man over his brother’s alleged homosexuality.
The deceased, Joy, was mistaken for his brother, Alex, who had fled the area since 2011 after the community’s youths threatened to deal with him over homosexuality. 
Sources said the youths intruded the deceased’s compound at about 8.00pm last Tuesday demanding for Alex, the alleged homosexual before they pounced on his younger brother who recently came to visit his mother from Lagos.
A source told City News that the youths used axe and many other objects to hack their victim in his father’s house.
His mother, Mrs Esther, said she was in the bedroom when she heard the youth shouting, “Where is Alex, we heard he has returned home. Someone saw him when he entered this house about five minutes ago. He must die.”
She added that the youths said it was their responsibility to stop all those who were homosexuals in the community. 
She said before she could rush out of the room, some of the youths had already pounced on her son striking him with different harmful objects that led to his death
Very disturbing. Very, very sad. And very horrible.

The Nigerian Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act which was lauded at that 'Marriage Conference' in Cape Town has put a noose round any person suspected of being gay in Nigeria. Vigilante groups have been doing what is reported here, and was documented in that Human Rights Watch report so thoroughly.

Now, that is more than fear of homosexuality. The words that are used in conferences like the one in Cape Town are the rhetoric which feeds such hideously horrible acts, summary injustice, in the name of protecting the youths and community from homosexuality.

I need a bath. A long shower to run off this grime, this hate, followed by a long soaking bath, in love. I need to wash this out of my mind. Now.

gug

Monday, December 12, 2016

Your Hate will Not Make me Straight!

Domestic bliss.

Feel a little bit, just a tiny little bit guilty that I am currently seated with my man, relaxing....., with him bingeing on netflix...., and I cruising the waves of the net to find something to blog about.....

The mind...., it is a funny tool. Nimble, quiet. But at the same time, so impressionable. So, I feel guilty because I am in bliss at the moment, yet out there......!

But, no. This is life as it is. And, me not being happy here and now is not going to add a jot to those who are unhappy and oppressed...... Hey, I am a human being, no superhuman...., I am liable to all the stupid, foibles of a human being. The quicker I remember that I can be as illogical and stupid as the best of us, the less I will feel like I have to live to 'super-human' expectations.

True.

So, I will celebrate the simple pleasures as and when I get them. And I will cry and pull the grey hairs in my head when there is need to.

#NoluvoSwelindawo

The Driftsands, Kayelitsha community came together Saturday to celebrate the life of Vovo.
Celebrate, I term it, because, though our tears and minds are still in shock at the untimely death of the 22 year old activist, we have to remember her vivacity and commitment, and that she stirred our hearts in life as in death.Pic Triangle Project via Mambaonline.com

Yes, her name was Noluvo. And we do mourn her. And her untimely death. And the circumstances that make it possible for a home invasion leading to death such a common occurrence and threatens the lives of most #QueerSouthAfricans and other South Africans. RIP, 'Vovo'.

And, all the members of the community who came out to proudly protest her death. Brave. Proud. Standing up to Our Humanity. Kuddos to the community of Driftsands.

Meanwhile, in Morocco, a bit of drama...., drama of the kind that would be amusing, but to the people, the real, living people that are involved, whose lives are ruined by the real world stigma that these environments have.
Two girls .., arrested and jailed in late October after being spotted kissing on a rooftop.The girls, ages 16 and 17, had been charged under Article 489 of the Penal Code, which provides for up to three years in prison for same-sex intimacy.They were arrested Oct. 27, released on bail on Nov. 3 and tried Nov. 25. On Dec. 9, they were returned to their families.

Good verdict. Drama, flash in a teapot. But, remember, these are teenagers, children. And, you know who had them arrested in the first instance? Pic Mambaonline.com

"they were reported by a neighbour or a relative who saw them kissing and hugging on the roof of a house in Marrakesh.The girls were allegedly beaten by their families and were detained for a week"
So, to the tender mercies of the families that thought them worthy of arrest they are released. This might be no victory... And, hopefully, they have some person to person support in this tough time.
On the activism stage, activists were not happy.

The spurious charges are more than silly. They put at risk any Moroccan. Any silly kiss can be interpreted as homosexuality. And, lives ARE ruined by things as silly as this. By the 'appearance of homosexuality' real or imagined.
Omar Arbib, a human rights defender from the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, welcomed the dismissal of the charges, but criticized the court because it “did not have the courage to say that the two girls are innocent of homosexuality.”

Damn. The interpretation before should be from the Human Rights Watch Director, Middle East and North Africa...., but, I think it should rightly come from a Moroccan!

Because, fact is, sometimes our countrymates forget that we are their countrymates that they persecute with such laws, simply because it seems as if it is only 'foreigners' speaking on our behalf!

And, I will end this post with a furious tirade from one of our own. An out and proud South African Idol Judge, Somizi Mhlongo that he posted on his Instagram account.
 “I choose not to keep quiet. I choose not to keep silent when I see in the news or I hear of corrective rape taking place somewhere in South Africa, when I hear of a young girl that has been murdered because she is lesbian. She didn’t choose to be lesbian – she is lesbian!
“So all I’m trying to say is that South Africa (And AFRICA!), homophobes, get it into your skull: being gay, its just as being black or white. You don’t choose. You are that.
“And the justice system. You are failing us. You are the reason why they think they can get away with murder. And all you homophobes, I’m telling you again: Your hate won’t make me straight!” said an angry Mhlongo.

Its worth of more emphasis,

Haters, YOUR HATE will NOT MAKE ME STRAIGHT!!!

gug


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Queer Africans of Faith 3

I had part poured out my passion about religion and Queer Africans..., oh well, it was part venting on my part, and also pointing out that there are some (in my view) peerless advocates of the religious love for queer Africans.

Reading back is like tracking my thoughts through previously painful journeys. But they are done, and am happy about that. Had actually written a couple of other posts which I didnt post... and are now 'lost' where lost bits and bytes get to be 'lost'....

Of queer Africans of faith, didnt mention one, Imam Hendricks of Cape Town, SA. Pic from WorldReligionNews.com

This extra-ordinary Gay Muslim and leader went through his own crisis of faith, and came out stronger. And, then he felt led to shepherd other Gay Muslims and lead them in faith. As a Moslem.

Now, if that doesnt beat courage, I dont know what would, really.
Because, on a day to day basis, his life is a trial. But it is also manifestation of the sheer power of faith for human beings. We believe what we believe, and for one to sway a person of great faith from their faith takes longer. Thats the why martyrs are made.

And, it would be presumptive of me to assume that because we are gay, there would be none of us queer Africans, to stand the gales of disapprobation from mainstream religions that are righteously homophobic.
Imam Hendricks is one such. And, I salute him.

Yes, We queer or gay Africans are also spiritual beings. And, asserting our faith, or right to faith, falls almost naturally into our basket list of 'things to do'.

But, there is more.

Bet you have heard of the convolutions that have gone through world Anglicanism when the American branch accepted a gay bishop.
What I didnt know, or had little appreciation of, is the fact that there has been another quiet but steady movement in the Southern African churches.

Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town and fiery advocate of inclusion for LGBT Christians, we all know. But, what has been his effect on the Church that he led?

Tutu is an extraordinary man. He has used his star power to campaign for what one would call 'liberal' causes, amongst which was one. The ordination of women. He follows the Church that he led, but will not stop himself from speaking out with an African Elder's gravitas when he feels something is wrong. Ask the ANC.....! (Photo Sarah Lee for the Guardian)

Mpho Tutu, the Archbishop's daughter, felt the call of the ministry, and was ordained in the US.

And, Mpho happens to be a Queer African. Brave as the dad, she allowed herself to fall in love..., with a woman...., and horror of horrors, a white woman!! An atheist!!
Mpho was married before, with a couple of kids. Gosh, the lady follows the Dad. Showing how faith can trump indeed all the shackles that we dare put to it. And, Dad and Mum supported her as she is. I salute you, the Tutu family.

Err, that was a teary diversion. They got married. Polar opposites.

“My wife and I meet across almost every dimension of difference. Some of our differences are obvious; she is tall and white, I am black and vertically challenged,” Tutu-van Furth.

“Ironically, coming from a past where difference was the instrument of division, it is our sameness that is now the cause of distress. My wife and I are both women.”

Marriage, the legal one, was in the Netherlands. But, they carried it home..., to South Africa. My people call that the 'introduction'. And, the whole family came out to honour the new marriage. That little tidbit thrills me. Here was a lady that was married, divorced, now celebrating a lesbian (Why do we go in for these damn labels?!) wedding, and the family was there to celebrate with them. This is the City Press' record of that occasion.
Mpho’s eldest brother, Trevor, and her daughters from her first marriage to Joseph Burris, Nyaniso (19) and Onalenna (10), were in the front seats.
---
The small crowd included ... Marceline’s daughter Pien (16), also from a previous marriage, and her father, Ralph. Pien lit a candle to commemorate Marceline’s late mother, Ghi.
Her (?Marceline's?) brothers, Wouter and Eric, had a turn behind the microphone to read The Apache Wedding Prayer. 
----
Moments after Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu-Van Furth slipped a ring on Professor Marceline Tutu-Van Furth’s finger, guests at their wedding ...burst out laughing.
And Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s giggle rang out over the Mont Rochelle Hotel’s terrace near Franschhoek, as his wife Leah rocked beside him. 
(Photo Shumaya Hisham, City Press)

Now, now, that was something wonderful. Two families united to celebrate the marriage of a couple. Celebrating a love that seems to reach out and break all kinds of differences and barriers. Goodness, to say they are polar opposites is an understatement!

And why get married?

Love.

What would lead to this need to bridge so many differences that at first would seem absolutely insurmountable? They are human beings, arent they? What is so strong that they can dare thumb the whole world in its collective face, maybe banking on Desmond and Leah's acceptance,...., but the world is not only our dear parents! Why, what drove them?

LOVE.

And, daring the world, they still had to bend to the very conventions that they flouted.
'The Arch', Desmond Tutu wouldn't officiate. But, he proudly gave a 'Father's Blessing'..., showing where his heart truly was.
Church sources said Archbishop Tutu had not given his public blessing for his daughter’s wedding to avoid any impression of forcing the hand of the church, where discussions on the same-sex marriages of both priests and congregants have been ongoing.
And, the knives were soon out. Sharp, sharper, and distressingly agile.
Before full knowledge in the media and the accompanying fracas, Mpho 
was ordained in the Episcopal Church in the US and was “canonically resident” in the Diocese of Washington, DC.
“In terms of the canon, I must have the approval of my diocesan bishop to marry, which I have,” she said.
“With regard to the Anglican Church, I imagine it will resolve its position on these matters in due course,” said Mpho Tutu 
The Arch didnt officiate....., hey, possibly he would have been untouchable....., he has that presence. But, he is also a very logical man. The ongoing discussions in his Church concerned him.

For the priest who 'dared' to officiate...., Charlotte Bannister-Parker, there were calls to resign her priesthood.....!
 “has been subject to horrific attacks. The ‘inquiry’ into what she did hinges on whether or not the word ‘blessing’ was used in the ceremony at any stage. That feels so incredibly sad, that the church is allowing ourselves to be tied in knots by legalisms.
“What Charlotte was doing was praying with us. You can pray with a rapist, a murderer, a torturer – but heaven forbid that you pray with two people in love.”
And indeed, I ask myself, has the whole Anglican Communion truly descended to that kind of legalism?

But, Mpho also faced her own challenges. She gave up her right to officiate as a priest in South Africa, her own country.
Mpho Tutu-van Furth ...said the move had been forced on her following her wedding to a Dutch academic.
“The canon [law] of the South African church states that marriage is between one man and one woman,” she said in a statement. After her marriage, the South African bishop who had given her permission to officiate as a priest in his diocese “was advised that he must revoke my licence. I offered to return my licence rather than require that he take it from me,” she added.
She was “still a priest in good standing in my home diocese” in the United States where she was ordained..

 Tough indeed. 
“It was hard for me to give up my [priest’s] licence, it felt incredibly sad,” Tutu van Furth –  told the Guardian.
“My father campaigned for women’s ordination, and so every time I stand at the altar I know that this is part of his legacy. And it is painful, a very odd pain, to step down, to step back from exercising my priestly ministry.”

Yet, even in this trial, she might be an agent of change. Because, the very church which asked for her licence had the leader admit this below.
Cape Town bishop Raphael Hess said he was “vexed” by the need for Tutu-van Furth to renounce her clerical duties, but that he hoped it would be short-lived.
“The time has come for us to exercise pastoral care, for us to demonstrate a shift that is reflected in the law,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “At the moment she cannot [minister] and she has accepted that but we are hoping that there might be a window for us to change it.”

Agent of Change indeed, or at least the catalyst that precipitates the reaction?

Love. 

That very normal, natural and accepted of human beings driving change to the acceptance of Queer Africans, in places of faith and out.

I shake my head....

Because the post wandered wildly off its plan as I celebrated Mpho Tutu-van Furth's journey as if it was mine and was with her in the happiness.

I will stop here for now. Can continue for hours and hours. Love is such a beautiful thing...., and faith is such a challenge to it! Marrying love and faith....., no wonder Gay Marriage freaks out many!!!!

But, I will also remember that we live in the real world. 

I will remember #NoluvoSwelindawo of Driftsands, Khayelitsha, who was pulled out of her house where she was living with her partner, and brutally killed. RIP Vovo.

Stigma is the real enemy. Those who dare to confront stigma like Mpho do us a massive service, challenging it in places where we would not be able to speak, which has ripple effects to places like Driftsands, Khayelitsha.

Mpho's win would be a win for Queer Africans. For now, we squat and mourn #NoluvoSwelindawo. In a world that had no stigma to who and what you were, you would have lived beyond 22 years of age. RIP, Vovo

gug

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Stigma is the Enemy; 2

I have been slow to return to this.

Meant to..., too important a chain of thought, though it was broken. But, it could return, could be renewed, could be..., done something about.

So, posted about SAs beautiful legal system for #QueerSouthAfricans which rivals none on the continent. It is really wonderful, flawed..., but wonderful.

If indeed the law was all that we had to get things right for queer Africans, #GaySouthAfricans would be in heaven.
But, they simply are not.

The vast majority of them live in real fear of death. I dare you to read the article extracts below.
NPA secured a 17 year jail sentence for a Ceres man who beat and set alight a gay man who asked to have sex with him. 
Judge Siraj Desai labelled the murder of Dawid Olyne a hate crime, and asked that the docket be kept open to find the others who were part of the brutal attack on him, the NPA said in a statement.
Olyne was assaulted, strangled, tortured, tied up, and set alight, after the heterosexual Christo Oncke took offence at being hit on by another man.
Olyne made the mistake of seeing a guy that he liked. He made a pass. And, that made the mistake worse.
brutal attack indeed...., assaulted, strangled, tortured, tied up, set alight...!!!

No, not the work of a single person.

One person was apprehended, someone with mental challenges. The others who were not mentally challenged are free. Quite highly likely members of the same community, and Olyne knew them.

And, Olyne is dead.

That is the day to day lived reality of many black south Africans. An exhilarating freedom, in places and spaces where you can be free, coupled by the very real reality that you might make that crucial pass at the wrong person, wrong time, wrong place......

The law managed to have one of the torture murderers arrested, charged, convicted. Which is a good thing.

And that fear is not only by Gay men. Lesbian South Africans in the townships are open at risk. This happened in the past week. (Pic from Facebook, via Mambaonline

The Cape Times reported that on Saturday night, neighbours were awoken by Swelindawo’s partner, Nqabisa Mkatali, pleading for help.

She told them Swelindawo had been abducted from her home, which had its windows broken and the door kicked in. Swelindawo’s family and neighbours embarked on a desperate search for her throughout the night until they were told that her body had been found.--The body of 22-year-old Noluvo Swelindawo, known as Vovo, was found dumped next to the N2 highway near Khayelitsha on Sunday.

Unconfirmed reports say up to 11 men were involved in the attack on the house. At least one has been apprehended.
a man has now been arrested in connection with the 22-year-old’s killing. The man, believed to be from the same community, is alleged to be the main perpetrator in the murder.
Gay South Africans know of the issues on the ground. They know, for a fact that great laws may not protect their lives. And the fear and danger does not go away, because the law man might not be around the night 'they' attack. So, Queer South Africans have gone on the ground, to change perceptions, to make sure the spirit of the Constitution and the law gets to where the people experience violence. To make neighbor live with neighbor in harmony, be one straight and the other LGBT.

activist Funeka Soldaat, from the group FreeGender Khayelitsha, said that news of Swelindawo’s murder had left her devastated. 
She said that the recently published Hate Crimes Bill will not on its own make a major difference to the continued attacks against LGBTI people and that more interventions need to happen within communities.
“Structures like street committees and other structures must be aware of LGBTI individuals in the community,” Soldaat explained. “Public dialogues with those structures around issues of homophobia and hate crimes must happen.”
 
Mnukwa, however, is angry that the Driftsands community did not do more to protect Swelindawo and failed to come forward with the names of her alleged attackers, despite ongoing engagements.
“We have had countless community dialogues and awareness campaigns to educate people about LGBTI issues and tolerance. I felt protected in Driftsands,” he said. “For them to protect the identities of these men and not to come out and help her when she was screaming at night for help, I feel betrayed.”

The distraught but emboldened community is undeterred. They can murder us, but they cannot make us keep quiet. They will NOT make us keep quiet, because, with Stigma as the Enemy, Silence is death. A Call to action.
GaySA Radio, Africa’s only LGBTI radio station, has called for a Day of Outrage on Saturday (10 Dec) to protest against the brutal and senseless murder: “Express your outrage, speak about what can be done, engage family and friends, take action. Take over social media, your home, your neighbourhood, your community. Join the call that says NO MORE. 

Bottom line. The law is good. Great.

But, on the ground, stigma rears an ugly, unchanging, infuriatingly hateful and murderous head. Stigma is the real Enemy, and for us to make more inroads, we need to go there to the community, the community which heard Swelindawo's screams for help in the middle of the night as a group of men, members of the community, invaded her house and abducted and later killed her, a community which LGBT South AFricans had thought they had engaged and thought relatively safe, but didnt prove safe ultimately for Swelindawo.

Because Stigma is the Enemy, the battle in the law courts is hardly done.

The war must be won by boots on the ground and that painstakingly slowly. Because Stigma is the enemy.

gug