Christina Engela's picture

We Ain’t Broke – Stop Trying To Fix Us!

Let’s take a look at religion versus sexuality in terms of how certain religious groups seem to get the idea that they can “pray away the gay”.  In recent years there has been an increase in these little groups in South Africa.  Certain churches are generous enough to provide programs which are guaranteed to screw gay people up completely in order to make them “normal” and in accordance with what they believe is “God’s Law”.  One religious political party was also nice enough to make the same offer, welcoming gay people who want to “seek help” and be “made straight”.  This unbelievably backward belief is generally called the “ex-gay movement” – except that they are trying to lose the bad image justifiably associated with the name, so it seems they will keep changing it every time their reputation catches up with them.

Many years ago when I was a little boy (yes, you read that right), I heard a John Cleese skit on the radio involving a parrot – which another man was trying to sell to him.  Trouble was the parrot was dead.  And the words that stuck in my mind were when John called the bird "an ex-parrot".  Since then I have heard about "ex-gay" and the term has always left me somewhat bemused.

Ex-gay?  What is that?  Most of us who know gay people (or are gay themselves) are fairly sure that would mean a deceased gay person.  But believe it or not there really are people out there who mean somebody who was, past tense, homosexually inclined – but not anymore. Imagine that!  They actually believe that gay people can become straight.  (And people used to laugh at me when I was a kid and believed in ghosts.)  Funny thing, these are likely the same people who believe unshakably that people are not born gay, but that homosexuality and transgenderism is somehow a result of ‘poor parenting’ and ‘bad childhood experiences’, including molestation (and presumably ‘exposure’ to gay people).

Gay people made straightWhoa!  At first I was sure some kind of a vice would be necessary, possibly in conjunction with some clamps and perhaps some kind of power tool, despite the old saying that goes "jy kan nie reguit maak wat skeef is nie" ("you cannot straighten something which is bent").  There are nevertheless some people out there who really are trying to unscrew the inscrutable.  And there are lots of them too.  Groups in fact.  Let's take a look:

Christina Engela's picture

Put Your Tranny Wheels On!

Let me start today's post by saying as a passable post-op male to female transsexual that in the war for acceptance, tolerance and civil rights for transgender people, it is our obvious, stereotyped and non-passing transgender sisters out there who are the bravest of us all.

It is they who face the ridicule, rejection and even hatred at the front line of our community. It is they who do not have the luxury of blending into "mainstream" society as part of their new gender. It is they who do not have the luxury of escape. They literally have no option but to stand and face the music the rest of us tend to escape because we have just been lucky by God's own grace to be "beautiful" enough to blend into invisibility. Most often, they are the ones fighting the hardest for every gain we make in terms of medical care or civil rights. These are the sisters and brothers who do not have the luxury of saying that the "GLBTI movement" has "done nothing for them" or to sit around and slag off other members of the pink community just for a few narcisistic giggles.

Please bear in mind as you read this post, if you are a transgender person who is closted for fear of your life (or just plain fear), this article is not pointing a finger at you. It is addressed to the people out there who are closetted for whatever reason - AND who act like bigots themselves.

Christina Engela's picture

Satan's Package

A Facebook friend left the following comment on my wall the other day:

"My girlfriend is an 'ex-miracle'.  Her step family used to parade her around to their circle of churches and proclaimed to anyone that would listen that she was "HEALED" of being a lesbian. I  have since been called (by these same family members) "SATANS PACKAGE".  I have to wonder at their arrogance - they proclaim an all powerful God, and yet dont trust him enough to create people as He sees fit.  They feel that they need to spend their lives trying to 'fix' what He created so that we all fit into perfect Christian-shaped blocks to make THEM feel acceptable.  If God wanted robots he would have created robots... a whole world full of happy-clappy, heterosexual, hymn singing, judgemental pharisees."

Very true, very fitting and very well said.

Christina Engela's picture

Cameronian Pscience Abounds

Yesterday I found a Facebook group addressing the matter of a pending legal motion to change the legal age of consent for the youth in South Africa. The group creator doesn't stop at just attacking the suggested move to lower the age of consent for heterosexual children, but differentiates between heterosexual and gay children and then launches into insulting references to fictional anti-gay pseudo-science and propaganda aimed at gay people. In fact it seems to me this person and her group are obsessed entirely with gay male sex - as only a small portion of the lengthy rant on its information section concerns heterosexual children.

Aside from her online diatribe trying to drum up opposition to this supposed new law, I can find no official reference to any such motion currently in SA Parliament. If this is so, then why the group? Is it an excuse to just drum up more anti-gay hatred? I honestly cannot see any other motive.

In the past months I have had debates with bigots claiming that gay people are generally pedophiles and that the motive for lowering the legal age of consent is "to get at our children". Nor only is this the most hateful and paranoid load of tripe I have heard in quite some time, but it is so far from wrong it is beyond a joke.

Bigotry is everywhere - and what follows closely in its wake is the sickening use of untruths, half-truths, "junk-science" and propaganda to try and demonstrate an obviously religious fundamentalist and conservative argument against homosexuality - and the insinuation that gay people are somehow any less capable of deciding for themselves at the same age as heterosexual people.

Christina Engela's picture

Beating Ploughshares Into Swords

Is religious fundamentalism fascist in nature? Are religious fundamentalists prone to it? I have heard them being called fascists, and agreed with it simply because of the general perception - and my own personal experience - that fascists aren’t very nice people either. I have often drawn comparisons between them - and I find it surprising that I never realized that they seem to genuinely have so much in common with our totalitarian friends who like to march under flags sporting propeller-like symbols – and marginalizing sections of society they don't like very much - whom they delight in pointing out how much "better than" they are.

To find examples, take a look at recent campaigns to strip social minorities of human rights or equality around the world (such as the recent Proposition 8 and the current Referendum 71 in the USA, and the violence at pride events in Russia and the Baltic states over the past three years) and you will find that the groups behind them are religious, fanatical, fundamentalist – and often racist and nationalistic as well.

People, particularly those who like philosophy, like to quote the old saying that “violence never solves anything”. Parents teach it to their children. The state tries to teach it to the populace – and then hammers them if they don’t listen, but is it true? On this point, the other day I saw a poster online that cast a different light on the matter, claiming "Violence never solved anything - except for ending Slavery, Fascism, Nazism and Communism." Phew. Profound, don’t you think?
Christina Engela's picture

Truth Stranger Than Fiction

On Saturday night I watched District 9 and I am still completely blown away and speechless! What an amazing, action packed, convincing, serious, poignant, funny, relevant movie! It is hard to believe it was low-budget - even harder to believe it comes from here - what can I say? For me it was all those things - and for once, it makes me actually proud to be a Souf Efrikin - TREMENDOUSLY enjoyable!

For all the action, humor, emotion, thought provoking scenes and disturbingly familiar scenery, you could at first mistake it for yet another big-budget Hollywood production. This flight of fancy is immediately brought crashing down by the local Afrikaans accent of the unlikely hero of the piece, Wikus van de Merwe - who is about as much Terminator or action hero material as I am a ballet dancer or a chef, naked or otherwise. This is a watershed event. It tells the world that South Africa has arrived, in the field of cinema, as well as in other arenas where it is now taken for granted. These days it has become common place to hear local SA band's music on the international charts. Local actors have been making it in the UK and USA for some decades now, albeit controversially. But this is a significant achievement. Seldom have I watched a Hollywood offering where I couldn't predict the ending or wish it wasn't over yet - but any movie that leaves you already wondering when the sequel is coming out as you leave the cinema, has got to be good.

Christina Engela's picture

Stupidity And Self-Inflicted Ignorance

Isn't it strange that having a dick automatically makes you a man, but having a vagina isn't enough to make you a woman?

Odd as it may seem, this gets proved every day for transsexual women around the world. Occasionally it is the stuff that makes headlines, peddles newspapers, or makes topical conversation around the craps table over drinks, transphobic jokes and peanuts. 
I feel it is an accurate portrayal of the fundamentalist worldview when I say their "view" is of the "join us - or else" or "I have a right to exist - and you don't" persuasion. The scary part is that the extremists see themselves as "true" Christians (or "true" men) - and everyone else as their enemy. I think it is the height of paranoia. (Of course, as the old song says - that doesn't mean we're NOT out to get them.)
For the past week or so I have been hearing and reading nasty comments based on speculation whether pop star Lady Gaga is intersex, and about a female athlete being accused of being male and having to undergo examination to prove that she is a woman! Suddenly a beautiful woman on stage that has been wowing millions with her cool songs and great voice now stops being beautiful and is a freak, a monster and a sexual deviant etcetera, etcetera. Men say online that they would never touch "it". 
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