anti-gay hate

Christina Engela's picture

Are Militant Homosexual Activists An Extinct Species?

Back in the day, opponents of equality and human rights for us Pink folks used to call anyone who dared speak out against them or shoot down their ridiculous arguments "militant homosexual activists". Typically, they used to show their blatant ignorance by calling transgender activists the very same thing as well. But regardless of the details, today I have to wonder where all those "militant activists" have gone?

The Radical Right is still here, attacking our humanity, our right to exist - and I have to ask, where are all those bold voices who used to speak out against them? Why aren't they still here, taking them on and calling them out on their prejudice, hypocrisy and bigotry?

Time passes, sure - and 1993 was almost 20 years ago now, when those right-wing folks opposed dismantling the laws that made gay and trans people into criminals in South Africa, when all the nut-jobs went to Parliament to tell the fledgling democratically-elected "government of national unity" (remember those days?) why treating gay people like human beings would lead to the fall of civilization - and allowing transsexuals to be logged correctly in the population register would "endanger children". Of course, back then there were activists who stood up to them, and took them on - exposing their propaganda and misinformed bigotry - and explained that just because the rest of Africa wants to murder people based on their gender or sexuality, it doesn't mean that South Africa has to follow their example - or bless it with religious fervor.

This was shortly followed by the publication of a nasty little book which sought to turn the Pink Community into the new most-hated and feared social group in the "new" South Africa. This attempt to scapegoat Pink folk brought plentiful support from right-wing fruit loops into the fray. The newly formed African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), neck-deep in the promotion of the book, was there too. And yes, there were some dedicated voices speaking out against them, bringing undeniable facts into the argument in opposition to regurgitated junk-science borrowed from the works of foreign fantasy writers like Paul Cameron and James Dobson.
Christina Engela's picture

Home Truths

I think everyone should experience what its like to lose their rights, even just for an hour or two, so they know how it hurts when you think how it might be to go through life being made to feel like a second-class citizen - a pariah, based solely on something you ARE, something you can't change or help being - something those in power see as wrong or undesirable, particularly for no good reason other than they feel like it, or their old favorite excuse - "cos we say so".

I imagine it would do people like Errol Naidoo, the South African Deputy Minister of Home Affairs (Gigaba), The Minister of Arts and Culture (Lulu Xingwana), Pastor "God-Squad" Ray McCauley and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (to say nothing of our own Kiddie Amin) a world of good. Dr. James Dobson too - even though he has been put out to pasture recently, he has left a legacy of hatred and prejudice (and a trail of misguided parents a mile wide) that can be called his hallmark - the so-called "Culture War" we still feel the effects of today.

Of course, some of these personalities would argue that they have already been dispossessed and hard done by, and know the pain of prejudice and injustice and unfair discrimination quite intimately. Despite this, they still persist in punishing and judging others for their own inborn and immutable characteristics (especially innocents who weren't even around to have done them any harm) for things long past and supposedly behind us as a society. Clearly they learned little from those horrid experiences.

Perhaps, rather than trying to pass new laws to gag the free press in South Africa and wasting tax-payers money on big ruling-party rallies, our government should think about instituting mandatory classes in what it's like to be a persecuted minority for politicians, law makers and government ministers instead.
Christina Engela's picture

Gender Stereotypes And Diversity

The following is a speech I made at a university in Port Elizabeth today, where I was asked to speak on stereotypes and the trans community as part of their Diversity Week. A special note of thanks to Busisiwe Deyi of the Eloquor Society.

My name is Christina Engela and I'm here to talk to you about transgender and transsexual stereotypes.

If someone just said the word "transsexual" or "transgender", what sort of image would pop up in your heads? What is the stereotype?

Mrs Doubtfire? Boy George? A drag performer on stage? A man in women's clothing? What sort of stereotypes come to mind? A stereotype is like gossip - even though it hasn't been proved, people still accept it as fact, and I suppose it depends on what people have been saying.

Am I someone who's after your children or perving over other women in the ladies room? Do I pee standing up? Am I someone that other people need to be protected against? Am I a threat to society?

I'm sure you can tell I have a "unique" voice for a woman - but I can assure you that I am none of these things.

When we talk about transgender and transsexual stereotypes, lots of words come to mind, words like "freak", "pervert", "deviant", "he-she's" and a lot of other nasty words that are meant to hurt. But do any of the people who use these words or say these things about us actually know what it means to be a transsexual person? Do they know what is true and what is false about transgender people? Or are they just acting on an assumption based on their lack of knowledge of something?

This is the nature of a stereotype, it is based on ignorance, assumption and inaccuracy.

I am a transsexual woman, which means that I was born in a male body, but I underwent painful surgeries to become the woman I always knew I was inside. A transsexual person doesn't change their physical gender because they just wake up one day and feel like it. It is a lifelong unhappiness with a medical condition in which a mind of one gender is born into a physical body of another. It was something I had to do in order to continue to live and to be happy.

I've just told you this, but up until this moment, did you know what a transsexual woman was? Or did you believe the stereotype?

I mentioned ignorance - because if I don't know what a transgender or transsexual person is, then how can I know the truth from a lie? In fact, there is so much ignorance out there about gender issues that many trans people don't even know that they are trans, until they eventually work it out for themselves, or they become so unhappy with the way their lives are that they are forced to look for help. You see, ignorance - and stereotyping causes so much needless suffering.

If someone tells you a lie about trans people, or if people claim that being transgender is "un-African" or "unnatural", then how can you know if they're lying? Well I can tell you that if you don't see any transgender people in your community, then that is because they are hiding. And they are hiding because they are afraid of people who are afraid of anything that is different to themselves - people who act in anger brought on by their own fear, which is brought on by ignorance.

People fear the unknown, and not knowing something is ignorance. Ignorance is what breeds negative stereotypes, and these reinforce fear. So you have a vicious circle of ignorance, fear and negative stereotypes. And the way to break this vicious circle - and the answer to ignorance - is education.

If you don't know what a transgender person is all about, then find out - ask one, and they will tell you.

Ask me, I am one - and I know what I am - I'm not a stereotype, I'm happy, and I'm not afraid.

(Posted at Sour Grapes)

Christina Engela's picture

Right Man Speak With Forked Tongue

The way some pastors and religious figures speak so enthusiastically and even gleefully of others they disapprove of going to hell, one could probably picture them picking up a phone (a red one, of course) and calling the hot-line to make reservations for 70 billion or so people, give or take one or two last minute changes. In the far corner, right near the flaming inferno and the tar-pits. Smoking or non-smoking?

I've been asked a rather personal question recently by some friends, and I say it is a personal one on principle, more than actual fact. After all, most Christians I know, whether or not they feel they don't judge anyone - quite happily wear their religion on their baseball caps, t-shirts, on jewelry around their necks, bumper stickers, singing about it in the streets, and promoting it in every other sentence as if it is the "right thing" to do. I know I know, it's a religion, not a franchise - but do they know that? Not that I care what they wear or do in their spare time, but let someone wear a GLBT oriented item of jewelry, or a pro human-rights slogan on an item of clothing - or even hold hands with their partner in public, or wear a symbol of any other religion, faith or belief system around their necks - or do the unthinkable (complain about all the religious programming on TV or on the streets) and immediately they are guilty of "flaunting their immoral lifestyle" and "persecuting the church". The question I was asked was the following:

Why am I not a Christian anymore?

It's not something I go around telling people - or trying to convert them to my way of thinking - it's just my own position I arrived at after years of soul-searching and realizations I came to on this journey we call life. For some time I have called myself an agnostic, which technically means "I don't know" - and more honestly, means "I don't think you do either" as well as "None of your explanations really satisfy my sense of the universe around me - there must be more to it than that".

So why?
Christina Engela's picture

You, The People

One thing I learned from history is that when you want to isolate and persecute any community, country or group - the first thing you do is to remove the thinkers, leaders and strong-willed from that group. Without them, the rest of the sheep will swallow just about anything the government spoons into the funnel called the media. Stalin did it, Hitler did it, Mugabe has done it - and if the ANC has its way, history will simply have repeated itself.

The proposed new law to control the media and introduce censorship and restrictions by the government has been described as a significant step backwards for South Africa on the downward spiral to becoming like its corrupt and impoverished neighbor, Zimbabwe.

You have to give them their due - at least the ANC seems to have paid attention to how the Apartheid regime and more recently, Robert Mugabe, has got clear away with corruption and oppression for decades – by controlling the Media and the information which is disseminated to the masses - and which travels outside the borders of his domain. If the ANC can convince the masses that its actions, no matter how flawed and ill conceived they may be, are justifiable - then like the Apartheid government, they can also indulge in murder and continue to deprive those less fortunate; continue to fail to deliver on empty election promises, dispose of those who go against their leadership, and all this with the approval of South African citizens and other global communities, whom the government will ensure will not know the whole story.
Christina Engela's picture

Blind Eyes, Deaf Ears

Sometimes I get despondent because it feels like my efforts are wasted, my warnings go unheard, my words fall on deaf ears like seeds falling on hard, dry earth.

It was just three short years ago when I first started my "career" in human rights advocacy and fighting for equality of the Pink Community. I can still remember those days, when trying to warn of the very events unfolding now, I was labeled an "upstart" and "irrational" and "alarmist" by some prominent community figures. And yet ironically, today we see the very things I warned against three years ago unfolding. Uganda is today on the verge of instituting the death penalty for homosexuality, and South Africa's government is acting increasingly under the influence of religious extremists. With the "protection of information" and "pornography censorship" bills on the table today, and with Media24 challenging Act no 4 of 2000 (The Promulgation of Equality Act) in the Constitutional Court, they would be hard pressed to convincingly wipe the egg off their faces.

Of course, these two bills amount effectively to censorship of the SA media - and at least as far as one of them is concerned, it is very cleverly constructed - because if you stand up to oppose it, it makes you look like you're in favor of pornography.

Well, I don't like porn - but it's not my business to tell adults what to watch in the privacy of their own lives. Lots of people do, but I don't. I don't see any need to condemn people for liking porn, as long as I don't have to watch it with them. I have no delusions of self-importance compelling me to stand over my neighbor's shoulder to make sure they're not watching porn - mainly because it's not my fucking business. And whatever they like watching on their own time just doesn't concern me, or affect me in any way. After all, there are already laws in place to criminalize child-porn and security protocols to prevent the kiddies from seeing porn on mobile phones and on TV, so I fail to appreciate the need to introduce new laws which will only serve to allow religious fundamentalists to control what everyone else has access to. No, I don't like porn - but I value the constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of association more than a big brother state breathing down my neck telling me what I am allowed to surf, watch or read. And because if we start chipping away at these rights in order to suit just one part of society at large, we start eroding the rights of everyone.
Christina Engela's picture

Imaginary Enemies

Imagination is the subject of today's article.

Ironically, people with the least imagination are also usually the most narrow-minded religious fundamentalists you could find - something which one would expect to require... imagination.

They can't imagine what it must be like to be a man attracted to another man, or what it must be like to be a man trapped in a woman's body. And what's even worse is that mostly, they won't even try.

They have some very firm opinions on these things, often criticizing such people out of hand, without even entertaining a debate - especially an objective debate - on issues surrounding the legitimacy of other people's needs and feelings about their own lives.

No really, imagine for a moment that you're out there telling people who have a different sexuality or gender identity to yours, that "it's all in their heads" and that they are somehow just "imagining it" - not just because of how you feel about these things - but because of what you believe in.
Christina Engela's picture

D.W.B. - Driving With Blinkers

We tend to think that things are better today than they were long ago. After all, we have mobile phones, HDTV, Satellite communication and the internet, among many other things. Of course, not too long ago, we still used to have a more relaxed pace of life, lower stress levels and cleaner air and water - and also a certain level of respect for each other as people.

When we read about the DADT policy of discrimination which has many variants in military forces around the world, I think we are reminded that things were not always this way. Fifty years ago, being different was not always viewed as critically and with such a high level of paranoia and fear as some people see it today. From this we can infer that even today, despite DADT being in force, there are still many gay, lesbian and trans people in military service - even while closeted - they have always been there, and probably even more so.

It would seem to me that diversity is strength, and by having diverse people in your armed forces, we would have made your armies that much stronger. But oh well, your loss.
Christina Engela's picture

Agents of Change

What are we in this world? Agents of change? Do we make things better, or worse? Or do we sit back and moan all day, doing nothing constructive and even worse, leaving the world unchanged and no better for our passing? We could go even lower by referring to our friend IdiOT Amin's "bloody agent", but I'm sure we can do better than that. So could he.

In South Africa we don't seem to have GLB groups leaving the T and I out - or discriminating, or abandoning us like in the USA and ENDA matter. The UK has "Stonewall UK" - a group that does a good job fighting for gay and lesbian rights - but that has solidly turned its back on the transgender and intersex communities, and occasionally even helped to attack them. Luckily we haven't seen this deplorable behavior here. Transphobia from the straight bigots in our society, yes. There is still plenty of that, but then, isn't there everywhere?

GLBTI is an acronym. Some use LGBT - and some sit on the sidelines and pick at the way people use these acronyms. It's so hard to please everyone and to keep everybody happy. People get annoyed by the order of the letters, people get pissed off because their letters are left out, or some other letter they don't like gets added in. If you're thinking how childish this sounds, you're not alone.
Christina Engela's picture

Wolves In The Fold

It's pretty hard to deny that a lot of the world's problems have roots in the activities of organized book-religions like Christianity, which are less matters of personal faith and more systems of control.

Yes, there are many loving, open-minded followers of this religion, and many Christians out there who follow its core beliefs of loving selflessly and accepting unconditionally. Unfortunately it is the intolerant minority which is shouting the loudest at present - the minority which claims it is Christian, but is far more Levitican in its belief system, which rejects Christian teaching and clings instead to old testament ritual in a frighteningly fundamentalist manner.

Despite making it clear the other day that I am not targeting loving, tolerant Christians for attacking the human rights and dignity of GLBTI people, or the Pink Community as we call ourselves here (which I have done by referring to "Leviticans") some folks - even gay Christians - still seem to get their wires crossed and accuse me of targeting them.

I have to wonder - is this a result of a) short attention span, or b) guilty conscience/martyr complex?

"I never have used my god as a weapon." They tell me. Good for you - but others do every day. And they also call themselves Christians, funny enough. I believe I addressed this topic in an earlier article I called "Will the real Christians please stand up?" Amazingly enough, I didn't get any death threats over that one. But still, I seem to get the impression that even GLBTI Christians don't like it when other people stand up for them against religious-based persecution. I still think they should rather get upset with the Leviticans among them instead. Don't you?
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