Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Out, Damned Spot!

Here in SA our Pride events are sponsored by the community, businesses and not councils or government. This means that while their funding is independent (and often hard to come by) all they require is the co-operation of the local authorities and that at least their financial eggs are not all in one basket, and the cancellation of one sponsor will usually not mean disaster.

Municpalities often just show us support through granting of permits, assitance with advertising or press releases and statements and so on. Mostly they realize how much revenue and tourism these events bring into their towns - one such instance saw a campaign by religious radicals to ban such an event thwarted, mainly due to the fondness of the residents for the festival - and also their fondness for the pink money it brings in - which exceeds their December holiday takings.

Yes, a few months ago there was a royal furore surrounding the Pink Loerie festival in Knysna - with a small band of religious fundamentalist nuts (supported by Errol Naidoo of the Family Policy Institute) trying very hard to get the festival banned, while making trumped up accusations and fantastical excuses why it should not be allowed. They say we have laws that give us all equality - and yet WE are still not equal with them. People such as these can express hatred and incite others to hate us in the press, in the media with impunity and yet they claim to "demand morality" and call Pride festivals expressions of "special rights" for our community. They demand "morality"? - well, as they so rightly say - charity begins at home.

Yes - we have laws - and funny enough, the Pink Loerie and other such festivals happen to fall within the legal specifications for such events. Now, how about that?
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It is pretty clear that these people and their groups will continue to dog our events and festivals wherever they may take place, stirring up trouble for the pink community and opposing our civil rights and equality and all forms of expression of our freedoms at every turn. They don't just want to be rid of our events in one small town here or there - it is clear that they don't want any of our events - or any of US - anywhere at all.

It seems that the cost of our hard won freedom is having to constantly fight to keep it.

Ironically in the far more socially advanced UK, a recently elected local Mayor has decided to stop his council from sponsoring his town's Pride festival. His statements on the matter clearly reflect a definite homophobic bias. It seems he is "fine" with gay people - as long as they keep it private and don't "advertise their sexuality" in his city. It seems this man hasn't stopped to consider the definite boost to his town's local businesses by those people who come to the festival and spend pink money there - he is simply concerned about his own narrow view. He hasn't quite tried to ban the event in toto - not just yet anyway. Who knows - maybe he feels his council shouldn't have to pay for something he can get for free? If the Pride committee gets private funding, the tourists will still come, won't they? One has to wonder whether he is an Ebeneezer Scrooge or an Errol Naidoo. Time will tell, it usually does.

It is interesting how - depending on the person in power - our issues are either right at the top of the list - or right at the very bottom. And almost always for exactly the wrong reasons.

Keeping with events in the UK, how about the current EU Parliamentary elections? Apparently the homophobic BNP party has won two seats in the EU Parliament and seems to be making gains in the political arena based on its xenophobic anti-immigrant and blatant anti-gay campaigning. I find it strange that people in the UK of all places can vote for a party with overtly Nazi overtones which reportedly limits its membership to Whites only!

This just makes one thing clear to me: those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

How anyone can vote to support any form of fascism, knowing history, is beyond me - which leads me to draw the conclusion that either the people who voted to support it don't know what they are doing - or that they know exactly what they are doing.

Deciding which option is more sinister and tragic, is a choice I leave up to you.

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