pink community

Christina Engela's picture

A Place In The Sun

No matter what I am or what I have done, I am also just as human and just as flawed and vulnerable as anyone who thinks they are perfect, or stronger, or better than me. Nevertheless, it seems there are always people who think that because I am not straight like them, and not living the gender I was born in, that I am anti-social, have a persecution complex, a huge chip on my shoulder, and am either less intelligent than they are, or that I am just plain stupid.

All told, I had a pretty interesting week.

Friday night I attended a small informal event at a cosy straight-friendly pub in Central Port Elizabeth at which the new SA gay flag was being passed around, promoted and even sported as a clothing accessory. It was nice to see people embracing a symbol of our diversity, even as I noticed the stark absence of the lesbian component of our community at events in this city. As usual I was drowning in testosterone, albeit pink.

Where were the lesbians? Where were the trannies? "Who cares?" Someone said - reminding me of the saying "out of sight, out of mind". And isn't that the truth? Our different groups socialize apart from the rest, forming little cliques. And then we sometimes have the audacity to wonder what happened to the "community"? Some people later wonder why they have been excluded from any of the planning of x, y, and z. What a cheek.

And then I looked at the item being billed as the "gay flag" for South Africa. Gay flag. Says everything, doesn't it? It has stripes of all the colors which represent each group making up the Pink Community, but somehow it winds up getting called the "Gay Flag". How did that happen? And why didn't I get the memo?

A friend told me of his frustrations at getting people in this burg to actually show up for anything without booze, smokes or some other form of entertainment laid on for free, gratis and for nothing. I empathized. Having had a hand in the planning of several under-attended and even cancelled-due-to-lack-of-interest events in the past, I knew exactly where he was coming from.

A few things were said at this event by some, about how fortunate we as the Pink Community are to live in South Africa, and about how "concerned" our government is with our welfare, about how important our well-being, dignity and protection is to the government and so on, and so on to the point where I wondered who they were working for. I cringed. "Are these guys for real?" I asked myself.
Christina Engela's picture

City Of Apples, Land Of Penguins

Where do I live?
 
I live in South Africa, a country which has one of the most advanced Constitutions on the planet, in terms of human rights and equality for people like me. It's a country full of contradictions, as a careful analysis will show. For me, as a transgender woman who doesn't care much about the gender of my prospective partners, it's my home, but also a place that occasionally makes me feel unwelcome enough to want to leave.
 
It's a place that on the one hand claims to protect my rights and dignity, while on the other, there are groups influencing government to the point where I'm not certain how much longer that will be the case. Some of these folks are now standing so close to the table holding our Constitution, that it seems, at any moment, they could just reach out and rip the vital pages right out of it. The POI and "porn" Bills are just two examples of this obscene attack on South African democracy, the rampant corruption and self-enrichment are just another.
 
Contradiction? What am I referring to? Hmm. Right.
 
South Africa is one of the biggest exporters of copper on the continent, in blatant and stubborn defiance of the minor detail that it has no natural sources of the metal, and no copper mines. None. Coincidentally, it is also one of the few countries where people occasionally arrive home to find that all their water pipes and metal fixtures have mysteriously disappeared. Reports that sales of PVC conduit have also increased dramatically in recent years, are often described as an urban myth.
Christina Engela's picture

Who Are We? Why Are We Here?

I sat down this morning wondering what our community is all about. I'm thinking about the Pink Community of course. Pink, because of the confusing array of acronyms we apply to describe ourselves, that almost always put some sub-groups before others, and invariably leave someone out. Pink, because of our association with the feminine, with the notion that we break the boundaries set for us by society, and because it flies in the face of some beliefs that pink represents weakness and inferiority - an idea some are growing to realize is not the case at all.

Who does our community include? Well, anyone who breaks the stereotype, any person who does not feel the description of straight and cis-gender describes them. Anyone who does not fit into the neat, ordered little pigeon-holes designated for them by a straight, patriarchal society that decrees males shall behave like this, and females shall know their place, and behave like this, and be subservient to the male. It includes anyone who does not feel comfortable with these designated roles, and refuses to accept having them forced on them, being more inclined to fight for their freedom and equality.
Christina Engela's picture

Ignorance As A World-view

South Africa is a beautiful country with all sorts of worthwhile natural resources and stunning, sweeping vistas and other interesting stuff that usually makes it onto the back cover of some tourism magazine you might flip through while sitting on the bog - or, as introductions on websites or Facebook groups for conservative political parties which try to sound interesting and aspire to make other people's business, theirs.

Unlike those people, who seem overly concerned about whether other people's kids are taught facts about evolution in schools instead of fantasy and philosophy involving their invisible friends - I don't care to write about how pretty the landscape is, or whether or not the skyline looks like sunset after a bomb went off.

Unlike people who get their knickers in a knot over whether sex education includes "safer sex" instead of "abstinence only" practices (or non-practices, as the case may be) or educates the gay and trans kids as well, without making anyone out to be some kind of threat to religion, the state or "the family" - I really couldn't give a toss what they believe.

Unlike people who define love and marriage by their reproductive potential alone, and how many more children they can bring into the world (because we know the world needs more children, unless they happen to be different) - I certainly don't care about what kind of hardware people who love each other enough to tie the knot are packing down below - or what Jan and Janine Conservative do in the privacy of their own relationships.
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

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

Leave No-one Behind

We often refer to our diverse community of sexual minorities as "GLBT", including main groupings such as Gay, Lesbian (also gay), Bisexual and Transgender. Sometimes, when we feel generous we add on the I for Intersex. Perhaps when we run into groups that confuse us, or defy classification into the other main groups, we tack on the "Q" for Queer or Questioning - although I have to wonder who it is that is doing the actual questioning? Us? Or the folks on the outside of the community? I often wonder Why is it that we as a community are struggling so much with our own diversity?

A little while ago I saw the following:

LGBTTIQQ2SA That's right, Someone was using this unwieldy acronym to refer to the broader "Gay" community. In case you need a translation (as I did), "LGBTTIQQ2SA" refers to "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, 2-Spirited and Allies."

Hahaha. Wow.
Christina Engela's picture

Rainbow Unity

Last week I noticed for the first time that people refer to the rainbow flag as "the gay flag". I have often heard it referred to as such, but for the first time I really thought about it. Is it really?

We have quite a diverse community, consisting of gay men, gay women (or lesbians), bisexual people, transgender people (including transsexuals, drag queens, transvestites, she-males) and intersex people. There are also other sub-groups such as pansexuals, panromantics, the gender-queer and asexuals. And if you think that's all there is to us, you're mistaken. There are also some lesser-known sub-cultures within our community, such as the bear and leather groups.

And yes, while we may be gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex, we can also be part of more than one of these groups at the same time. I for example, am a transsexual woman who generally dates other transsexual women. I am also panromantic and asexual - and to add to the flavor, I am also an honorary member of the PE Bears - and yes, all of these things at the same time. Considering this, I could find individual flags for the Transgender Community, bisexual (but not pansexual or panromantic) community, and the Bear flag. I did manage to find one flag to represent all of these things - the Rainbow Flag - which represents all these aspects to my nature, my personality and my existence, even though I am not technically gay, but don't mind being called as such. This would be the Rainbow Flag, which is too often called the "Gay" flag.
Christina Engela's picture

Rainbow Flag = Cohesion


It is a simple fact that if members of a community stop socializing together, we soon stop co-operating and standing together as well. Pretty soon we stop thinking of ourselves as being part of the same community - and not long after that, we start acting like rivals - or worse yet, enemies.

The word appropriate to this discussion is "cohesion" which is defined by Wikipedia as: "Community cohesion refers to the aspect of togetherness and bonding exhibited by members of a community, the "glue" that holds a community together. This might include features such as a sense of common belonging or cultural similarity." I also like the following definition, but that may be because I spent some time in the military - "Cohesion (military): the bonding together of members of an organization/unit in such a way as to sustain their will and commitment to each other, their unit, and the mission (Cohesion the Human Element in Combat, William Henderson, 1985)."
Christina Engela's picture

"It" Is For Objects, Not People

Recently I engaged in a private debate with representatives of international GLBTIQ advocacy groups online. Actually it started out as a call to action, to launch protests to affirm opposition to transphobia and the pathologicization of transsexuality - then one of them launched into a scathing criticism of trans people who wanted to have transgender classification removed from the coming DSM-V 
manual.
 
Presumably she would prefer transsexuals to continue to be classified as mentally ill - as they are deemed currently by world health professional groupings. Presumably she likes the stigma attached to being transgender and the rigamarole involved in getting the goodwill of the "gate-keepers" who hold the 
keys to their future happiness, assuming of course that they jump through all the hoops and barrels like good little freaks should.
 
This person, supposedly a director of a group involved in transgender education, proceded to state that "any transsexual person" wanting to abolish this current system "clearly does not speak for the community" - and then pointedly referred to trans people as "he/she/it".
 
"He/she/it" - "IT" ??? Excuse me? Did I read that right? 
 
This person just called transsexual people "it"? The email address title of the writer said "Transgender Education"?? Needless to say, I could not believe my eyes.
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