Christina Engela's picture

Is There Something We Can Do?

There are groups in South Africa which are claiming to be able to "cure" gay people, as though human sexual orientation and gender identity is some form of disease or "lifestyle choice". Their attack on human rights and freedom of expression comes ENTIRELY from the perspective of religious conservatism and fundamentalism and has no basis in fact, reality, science or medicine whatsoever.

They claim we are "broken", burdened with "unwanted SSA" (that's "Same Sex Attraction") that we are somehow in need of their intervention, and so they believe that the same God that made us gay, bisexual or trans, has duly appointed them the moral guardians to rush to our aid and to save us from our sinful natures.

I find the fact that so many people actually fall for their nonsensical prattle rather disturbing. In fact, I think it is because of a lack of education on what we are as opposed to what they say about us.

Despite their proven failure to deliver what they claim, there already are existing groups in South Africa which have been active under the radar for some time, such as Exodus International, NARTH and other smaller groups affiliated to them ("Living Waters ministries" and JONAH), particularly in the Cape Town area, and some like Focus on the Family' "Love Won Out" and oddly-named "Truth Project" in KZN, which is also being presented in Johannesburg. Regardless of their names and what colors they operate under, these are all "ex-gay" ministries who have an agenda of destroying a GLBTI persons dignity, individuality and sense of self-worth to the point where they become neat, conformist little clones, who underneath a shiny veneer of "ex-gayness" are still just as gay, but eventually tortured by brain-washed self-denial to the point of self-destruction and suicide. In fact, the entire Ex-gay industry has been strongly condemned by every reputable medical and psychological institution or body around the world. The fact that more such little groups are popping up here is of grave concern.
Christina Engela's picture

Shock Treatment

I would like to praise the Canadian authorities for apprehending Dr. Aubrey Levin, aka "Dr. Shock" - a man who is believed to have fled to Canada to avoid facing the Truth and Reconcilliation Commission in the 1990's - and for launching an inquiry into his activities in Canada - and also for investigating charges of human rights abuses from when he was in South Africa.

I welcome the fact that all criminal cases in Canada in which this person has participated as an "expert" witness for the prosecution, are currently being reviewed. Who knows, there may be innocent people sitting in prison or mental institutions because of his prejudice. I also applaud the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta for suspending Levin’s license to practice (that's really great - I really, really like that part). I also applaud Canada for the over-all thoroughness evident in the way this sensitive issue is being handled. I can guess how long this would take over here in sunny South Africa.

Firstly, the case itself would probably be put off until sometime after the Soccer World cup - because we all know how much more important that is than boring old human rights - giving it another six months for the public to forget it ever happened, so that the bail appications could go off without a noisy protest outside the court room. Then, it would probably take six more months to find the missing dockets, if ever - and then, like another prominent homophobe in this country, Mr Levin would probably be impossible to locate to be subpoenaed for his court appearance.

The cynical side of me would expect to find him occupying a government office in a South African embassy, perhaps in Burundi or Rwanda - seeing as the job in Uganda is already taken - by Jon Qwelane.

It is amazing that people can commit hate crimes, and just conveniently not show up in court when they are charged to - and nobody, not even the Government or Judicial Authority it seems, can do anything about it - other than to offer them a job as a foreign Ambassador, of course.
Christina Engela's picture

Growing Pains

Over the past few months a war of words has been raging over the activities of "ex-gay" groups in the USA and around the world wherever they have set up affiliates or branches of their own - including in my own country, South Africa. The "ex-gay" movement operates on a purely religious basis and claims solely out of a misinterpretation of religious dogma, that gay (or trans) people can and should either deny their nature - or "change". They claim all sorts of "studies" and "proof" exist to support their theories, but the truth is that no such evidence exists - and that every reputable medical, scientific and psychological institute, authority or body asserts that "conversion therapy" - IE attempts to change sexual orientation by "ex-gay" industry, is dangerous, risky and harmful to those it affects.

All this has prompted me to look back - and inwards, to a time when I was struggling for self-acceptance, and to find my own identity.

The very first thought I can remember which indicated to me that there was something "different" or "abnormal" about me (those are increasingly dangerous and stigmatized words these days) was when I was three years old and sitting on a potty, looking at my genitalia and thinking "that shouldn't be there". I am sure it is no coincidence that many of my best ideas since then have also come to me under similar circumstances. *Grin*
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

Kill The Bill


I have great respect for GLBTI pastors and ministers - and straight clerics, who support their faith's central ethos of love, peace and tolerance - surely they have to bite their tongues a lot!  I doubt I could manage it, but then as an activist I am not expected to.

Many times an older woman, who is a gender activist in the church - and whom I consider a mentor - cautions me not to come across as aggressive because it gives credibility to the patriarchal mindset to just wave me off as "just an angry woman".  Of course, although I do agree with her, that very patriarchal mindset is exactly what makes my point.  I AM angry.  And considering the state of the world today, shouldn't I be?  Shouldn't we all be?  Is it unreasonable to be angry at the manner in which those appointed by us to make decisions are making a right balls-up of things?  Is it not right to be angered by mismanagement, corruption, inaction, injustice, discrimination and human rights violations?
Christina Engela's picture

A Purpose Driven Genocide



Finally this news breaks on SA media.  Well it's about bloody time!  And I do mean bloody.  Another article also made it into the mainstream media, this time in the Citizen.  I still have to gauge the SA public response to it, but I have an idea there will be quite a few comments in favor of the bill coming from the whack-jobs and wing-nuts.

It seems to me that current events in Uganda influenced by the US religious right are in fact no more than a virulent symptom of problems at home - that these things being said and used by proponents of this "Bill" and the genocide it would ignite, in fact have their origins in the backward deep south "bible belt" of the country most people naively think of as the most liberal and democratic place on Earth.  Why would I say this?  Let's take a look:
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

Careful What You Wish For...

We all know the things said about parents who don't care about their children or what happens to them. After all, parents are supposed to care about their children. When parents learn that their children are gay or transgender, they are quite right to be concerned and even worried - but how should parents react to being told by their teenage child that they are gay or transgender?

International groups like Focus on the Family advise parents to not give affirmation to these children, to not let them think for a moment that it is in any way "okay to be gay". They are in effect giving clear instructions on how to alienate parent and child, and how to destroy the self-esteem of their children.

This alone should indicate the level of Focus on the Family's concern for the actual well-being of "the family".

If you really want to know how you SHOULD react as a parent, ask any gay or trans person how they would've liked their parents to react when they came out. Go a step further and ask them how THEIR parents reacted. After all, they've been there - and as anyone should know, scars left by such matters can take a lifetime to fade.

Christina Engela's picture

Broken Logic

Over the last week an "ex-gay" champion engaged me in an email debate over my "leading gay people to destruction" by taking them "further away from the light of God" and "into the ways of the world".


I brushed aside images of being a transgender "Moses" (or "Moselina")leading the downtrodden masses across a candy-floss desert in my bright pink cape, imagining various forms of burning bush and grinning annoyingly from behind my false beard. Achoo.

As our correspondence gradually departed from friendly courtesy and drifted closer to open hostility, I took note of the apparent ignorance of self and deep-seated fear this person had of his own sexuality and nature. It was also clear to me that he was quite young, perhaps just out of school - or even in his early twenties, which made it all the more tragic. On the other hand he is young and has plenty of time left to learn the truth for himself - assuming he doesn't catch "ex-gay" first - and that has a pretty high mortality rate.

This person, let's call him "Roger" *wink* - wanted to remain anonymous (naturally) - but since I only knew him by his email address, and the name he gave me could be fake in any case - and since he was on the newsletter mailing lists for one of the advocacy groups I am involved with, that didn't make much difference. His first mail to me was a reply to a news update I sent out about some or other matter affecting the pink community. Clearly this poor guy is very conflicted - being gay and in denial - and also a religious fundamentalist voluntarily on the mailing list of a gay advocacy group! Quite a conundrum!

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