Mr. Gay South Africa™

Christina Engela's picture

Living In Interesting Times

A few thousand years ago the Chinese developed a saying that went "May you live in interesting times". This is, believe it or not, intended as a curse, not a blessing. By "interesting times" of course, they meant that by looking at history, it is the eras of peace which are most dull and uneventful - and the chapters of violence, war and chaos, the more interesting to read.

With natural disasters and the collapse of tyrannical rulers and their regimes progressing in a kind of tsunami in the Middle East, the changes in Egypt, the civil war in Libya, the other threatening revolutions in various exotic places and the disaster in Japan, our times appear to be most interesting indeed, and looking to be more so each week.

Wow what an interesting few weeks this has been in South Africa.

I'm proud that South Africa went to the aid of Japan, and I'm proud of the people who went into dangerous places no-one else would venture in order to rescue the living and recover the dead, and to make things better for a stricken people. Seeing things like that show me there is a spirit of humanity - called ubuntu here - that runs through this nation, regardless of race, color or creed - and yet our country is such a paradox when dealing with our own natural diversities. I felt proud too, when South Africa supported the most recent UN Statement last week, but that unfortunately was short-lived.

First, Mr Gay SA won Mr Gay World, for the second time running since South Africa began participating in the international contest two years ago - also winning the right to host the next Mr Gay World in Johannesburg in 2012 - and our entire community got a complete flat ignore by 99.9 percent of the straight media, despite letters asking the media to cover the event, and complaints that the straight media did not report the win. On Wednesday, only two straight media bodies made the effort to show up at a press conference held by the organizers. To their credit, they were an ETV news team (who also do news inserts for Kyknet) and Beeld. Aside from the Pink media, broadly speaking, there was a near-total news blackout on the win. Journalists from several newspapers contacted the organizers for interviews, which were given - but the stories never appeared, which makes one wonder why.

The interesting thing is, while articles on the contest were not posted, a few letters by the organizers complaining that the contest received no attention, were posted - and the sheer array of hostile remarks tinted with lunacy, religious fundamentalism and brute ignorance were astonishing. Of course, this indicates the sort of readership of many of these newspapers - and to whom they cater. Printing news about Pink successes on an international scale would be like printing Israeli news in a paper catering for anti-Semites.

Of course, this is a worrying indicator. Originally in 1994 it appeared that English and Afrikaans language newspapers would cease to cater solely for the readership of particular race groups - but despite this change, it appears that a certain part of society is still excluded completely, despite being part of these language groups. The exceptions of course, are when there is a nice fat gossip story involving *gasp* homosexuality, or *shudder* a "tranny" getting fired for changing sex. All too often, the victim gets media treatment to make them look like they "deserved" it. Our community in general only appears to be reflected in the news when there is a negative connotation. There are exceptions of course, but they are few and far between.

Let me just state clearly that I did not oppose the Protection of Information Bill put forward by the Government, which threatens to censor the Media, just so that the very same media I chose to protect from government interference can deliberately exclude items of morale-building and positive value about my community because of its own heterosexist and sectarian religious prejudice.
Christina Engela's picture

Why I Do Not Celebrate Human Rights Day In South Africa

Did you see Mr Gay South Africa win Mr Gay World in the news last week? No? Neither did I.
Many South Africans will be celebrating Human Rights Day in South Africa on Monday 21 March, but I won't be one of them. Why? Because despite our Constitutional provisions of equality and democracy and human rights, I am still part of a minority group which is discriminated against, and whose concerns are sidelined by the lack of interest of others who like to look down on myself and those like me - and who view our existence and achievements as an embarrassment, or at best, uninteresting.
I'm talking about the consistent unconstitutional acts of the SA Government at the UN in either actively opposing or abstaining from decisions aimed at enhancing the human rights of the Pink Community - and back at home claiming that those active in providing awareness of these acts or omissions are part of a "misinformation campaign"; the continued refusal of the government to withdraw a homophobic columnist appointed by President Zuma as ambassador to Uganda where draconian anti-gay enactments are pending; the continued failure of the government to integrate the provisions of the SA Constitution protecting LGBTI human rights in its foreign policy; the government's persistence in spending South African tax money and resources on assisting countries which attach no value to the human rights of the Pink Community; the fact that two tiny lunatic fringe political parties holding 7 parliamentary seats out of over 400 could derail a parliamentary motion of congratulations; the near news black-out by especially print media of the remarkable feat of winning Mr Gay World twice AND getting the hosting for 2012 (none of which was a given and in both instances we were up against the mighty USA).
It seems the bulk of South African press haven't allowed any coverage of this event. I say 'allowed', because while all the main papers were notified of Francois Nel's prestigious achievement in winning the title of Mr Gay World, and the team's coup in bringing home the rights for South Africa to host next year's contest in Johannesburg, very few responded to the organizers to ask for details in order to write a story about it. So far, only one or two articles have appeared in, surprisingly, local Bloemfontein newspapers, while mention appears to have been made only on ETV News (and that because of the ACDP angle, not the win itself) and two radio stations (and thanks to those media who did report). And yet, this morning, papers are carrying on business as usual. Instead, the Rapport is still publishing religious propaganda about that homophobic preacher with the silly hat, Angus Buchan, appearing in Paarl - as if it is actual news. It seems to me the poor reporters who asked for details about the Mr Gay World contest might have done the stories (as they asked, and then say thank you when these were sent) but still no stories appeared - was the story killed by their management?
Christina Engela's picture

The Parliamentary Drowning Pool

Last weekend, Mr Gay South Africa won the Mr Gay World contest - the second time a South African title holder has walked away with the top honors of this prestigious event - and also incidentally, the second year of the Mr Gay SA event. To crown this achievement, South Africa has also been selected to host next year's Mr Gay World event in Johannesburg. This is no doubt a remarkable achievement, and something to be proud of, well, at least one would think so.

Yesterday the news broke on Twitter and Facebook that the DA (Democratic Alliance), the official Opposition party in Parliament, was to make a motion to congratulate Mr Gay SA and the organizers on this fine achievement. It was alleged that Upon hearing of this motion, the ACDP (African Christian Democratic Party) immediately declared that it would oppose this motion.
Many folks, myself included, felt that the ACDP stood a snowball's chance in hell of blocking this motion with its puny three seats in over 400 in Parliament, but it seems we were in for a surprise.

The DA filed the motion - and as promised, the ACDP voted against the motion with all three its little votes - joined by the Freedom Front Plus, an equally tiny right wing, racist and homophobic Afrikaner party which probably doesn't appreciate fully the extreme irony in it's name. Apparently, according to some obscure little regulation in Parliamentary procedure somewhere, only 7 votes are required to block such a motion - which is exactly what happened.
Christina Engela's picture

Seeing Is Believing

Last weekend we saw the first Mr. Gay South Africa™ pageant - or rather, didn't.

Those of us who were not fortunate enough to attend the main event, or the semi-final ocean cruise, or the other events which took place around the country, read about it. We saw articles and photos in local pink news services such as Gayspeak and Mambaonline - but that was pretty much the only mention the event received.  Did we see any attention given to this event - which the gay community found to be of some import, in any mainstream newspapers or hear radio coverage or see any TV features?  I certainly didn't.  Apparently the Mr. Gay South Africa™ pageant (I keep writing it out in full because it is a completely different animal to the former "Mr Gay SA" pageant of years ago) did manage to make the News24 front page - online.  Twice.  It also made The Times once, but that was long ago, and somehow it made Die Volksblad in Bloem - I don't know HOW it got it in.  But about the actual final event, only News24 - oh - and although displayed on the front page, the actual article was under "GoTravel" and not anything in the main news section.  But otherwise, that was it.

Yet just this week alone, I have seen plenty of mention of the Miss World pageant (probably also with a "™") with heterosexist stereotype icons and card-board cutouts of "perfect" straight womanhood strutting their stuff in front of TV cameras with people like Jacob Zuma, and at community events around the country on the pages of various local community and national newspapers - and of course, in TV coverage.

I hate to grind axes, but this whole deal brings to mind the nit-pickers who go postal every time they see anything with a pink tint on the box and whine about having the "homosexual agenda" rammed down their throats - yet they are quite happy to ram their own "lifestyles" down ours.

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