Monday, February 15, 2010

Local Is Lekker

"Where is the other sock?", "how much string is in a sweater?" and "how many homophobes does it take to screw in a light bulb?" Ah, the philosophical questions in life...

The maddening questions are as cryptic as the answers themselves, being: "not with the one you are holding", "all there is" and as for the homophobes, the answer is "two - it is difficult for one to screw by itself - even for a gifted homophobe".

Now that this little matter is all but cleared up, let's look at another. This weekend, our newly crowned Mr Gay South Africa (TM) was crowned Worldwide Mr Gay 2010. That's right, Charl van den Berg is now effectively Mr Gay World.

Some people might not see the significance in this, but to me it is simply astonishing. Not just because of Charl's stunning good looks, but because the Mr Gay South Africa (TM) pageant itself is very, very new - in fact, Charl is the very first person to bear this title for 2009-2010 - that's how new this is. Viewed in this context, it can only be seen as an astounding accomplishment to enter an existing pageant as a newcomer - and to effectively trounce competing countries who have been there before.

Others have of course criticized the need for such pageants, calling them derogatory and demeaning.

"How does this further the cause of human rights, cis gays (fairly sure there aren't any trans men there, right?) showing off themselves on stage?" They ask. No, I'm sure there weren't any transmen competing alongside him - something I think should be addressed by these competitions as a matter of course. Bearing in mind that if trans people (such as myself) are to be eligible for such contests, which are focused mainly on cis-gender groups, then we need to be realistic about the standards - if we are to be judged by the same standards, then we should expect to measure up to them as well, regardless of how hard that may be on us - and it is also no use crying that the rules may be unfair if we don't. That being said, the rules need to actually be fair. But the transgender thing is a separate matter, and I only mentioned it because I feel it needs to be mentioned.

Regardless of all this, pageants such as these still help to increase awareness of our community, and are therefore a good thing. It is a way to present ourselves in a positive light.

Speaking of the media, I have been so disappointed lately with the seemingly perpetual negative light that our community is reported on in the press - or not at all it seems, that I was actually very pleasantly surprised to see some mention of Charl's achievement in onse eie local press media this time. Thanks guys, it beats the socks off the disappointment I felt last year when Charl was crowned Mr Gay South Africa at a gala event in Pretoria - and the only place I saw anything about it was on Facebook - and in mentions of how upset I was in the media some time afterwards.

Just a pity it made such few front pages though, mostly inside middle pages, short terse articles - and no pictures, unless it was the swim wear shot of Charl on the runway. Other than that provocative photo, which could almost be taken as an attempt to provoke controversy (because we all know how nicely controversy sells). It was all very understated and quite nice to see. I still can't help wondering though, that, yes - if it had been Miss SA winning Miss World - it would probably be on every front page, with extras on page 2 and 4.

As a community, we regularly get a raw deal in this country - but I am happy to say, it seems to be getting better - at least, in some ways.

It is beginning to look like our complaints about the Mr Gay SA coverage didn't fall on deaf ears last year - and I can almost hear those editors saying "let's see them call us biased now!"

The highlight for me so far has been hearing about it being plastered all over the lamp posts in Pretoria, the Pretoria News, Citizen and Beeld, nogal - right in the heartland of Conservapolis itself - haai Dominee, die skande! Ai tog! And so far I haven't seen any hate speech in the comments lists yet. Oh well, the night is young.

Positive articles have appeared in most newspapers in the country, which to me indicates a shift in mindset and attitude. This is, obviously, a good thing.

Good for all you guys in the press for reporting on this - it's great to see something positive in the media about our community for a change! Keep it up!

Today the print media, tomorrow... the SABC? ETV? How about some positive coverage on the box? Hmm? C'mon guys - local is supposed to be lekker.

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