Monday, May 31, 2010

Community Building


Recently I wrote about cohesion in our pink community, and over the weekend I was again faced with the exact opposite. Some trans-women seem to feel that I have been remiss in campaigning for transgender rights and focusing only on gay rights. They feel, as I do - that there are some rather prominent advocacy groups, some of them advertising that they stand for all GLBTI rights, some not - and that these groups are abandoning trans people.

A prime examples of this is the ENDA (Employee Non Discrimination Act) in the USA, which has failed to pass in the past - and from which transgender rights were conveniently removed by some of our gay allies in order to see that the act had a "better chance" of passing. Hmm. I have to point out that (duh) this is not the act of an ally. The dust around this issue still has not settled, and I wait with bated breath to see how it goes down.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Making The Difference


I want to focus today on Africa, and African affairs. Of late, African countries all around us have been flaunting their peculiar brand of homophobia, laced with ignorance on matters of medicine, science, fact - and tasting remarkably of religious fundamentalism. Relating to this, an item came across my inbox today, which was forwarded to me by a friend. It was a message from an ACDP support group on Facebook, and it went as follows:


"Jo-Ann Downs May 27, 2010 at 2:28pm Subject: DRC visit

I am off to Lubumbashi in DRC tomorrow to teach about 1000 Church leaders about getting involved in improving the country. Need lots of prayer. There are so many terrible things happening to women and children I hope to really make a difference."

This of course, is Where the ACDP completely crosses the line between religion and politics, and works to blur the line separating church and state as well - which it does, simply by existing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's A Small World, After All


When Uganda tabled its Bill which would effectively have instituted the death penalty for homosexuality and a pink genocide, many countries applied great pressure to Uganda to drop the Bill. So far this Bill has been put on hold, yet in Uganda gay people still face an existing law which prescribes a 14-year prison term simply for being gay - just as in Malawi and several other countries.

Malawi has just this week rewarded a gay couple with the maximum prison term for loving each other - 14 years hard labor, a potential - and even likely death sentence in such a prison. The world has begun to apply pressure on Malawi because of this human rights abuse, but the question remains - how much pressure will they apply, and what will happen if Malawi doesn't budge?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hook, Line And Stinker


In a new press release in which the Family Research Council (of Focus on the Family and James Dobson infamy) dragged an eight year old "study" out of mothballs and served it up with today's sauce, they once again misrepresented scientific data to undermine human rights and promote their own fascist agenda.

"WASHINGTON, D.C. - Family Research Council released a new analytic report today showing that women who did not grow up with their biological mother and father are much more likely to engage in homosexual conduct as adults than are women who grew up in an intact family."

"Oh, goody," Some people will be thinking. "A new study to show how nasty, immoral, un-patriotic, and hostile to "the family" gay people are. And how much of a threat they pose to "our" children!"

As somebody pointed out to me, all to rightly: "Before long, phony religious right experts will be citing this study as fact. It's best to refute the lies before they have a chance to spread." And among the things recklessly promoted in this libelous and poorly researched "study" is the claim that "Women who never attend religious worship are more than three times as likely to have homosexual relationships than are women who attend worship weekly." This is exactly the sort of thing that bigot preachers will seize upon and preach from their pulpits as "gospel truth" and "fact".

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hate The Sin, Hate The Sinner


Where I come from, being called a bigot used to be an insult, and being called bigoted was an accusation people used to take very seriously. Considering that I grew up in South Africa during the last years of the Apartheid regime, and was schooled under its influence, this is a revealing scenario.

In those days, liberals used to refer to people as bigots because they were supporting and defending racist policies, and were very enthusiastic about it. Very often, the same people used to "categorically deny" being bigoted and would take such accusations very personally while often going to extremes - very often religious extremes - to try to justify their bigotry.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Alternative Healing


I was impressed by two stories this week. I know, it is only Tuesday, but I am already beginning to think it will take something pretty extraordinary to top the past few days, at least for me - and at least, in the field of human rights in South Africa. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

If My Grandma Had Wheels, She'd Be A Wagon


Immortality.

Some people say that if we were supposed to live forever, we would have evolved to do so. Hmm that is an interesting proposal. Perhaps I might add that if we were supposed to travel thousands of kilometers to watch grown men from all over the planet kicking a silly little ball around, we would have evolved to include jet engines in our biology. No? okay then - well back to the subject of immortality.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Owning The "H" Word


The "H" word. We all know it. We have all felt it. Sometimes we use it to describe traffic jams, the stuff we find on our sandwiches, the work we do, or getting up on a Monday morning. We use it so easily, but sometimes things happen to us that we can't control - things that are done to us by other people who for that moment, had control over our lives and made us feel powerless, insignificant and small. And then it is that we turn the injury done to us by others into hatred directed back at them - and make it all worse.

We own the "H" word, and we eagerly claim it with both hands - not realizing that it is not us who wields it, but it which wields us.

Hate is bad for everybody.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

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. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What's Your Handicap?


Today I want to talk about handicaps - such as religion. And when I say "handicap", I mean in terms of driving with the handbrake still on. That's right, like having lead weights put in your pack to slow you down. Or your golfing handicap. Yes, that's a better description - because without that handicap, you could score so much higher. In fact I think that describes exactly what I mean.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ulterior Motives

Why do SA's law enforcement agencies not seem to be curbing or preventing violent crime incidents plaguing us of late?

Two reasons come to mind:

1) Because they are unable to curb or prevent violent crime

2) Because they want the country to be or at least appear to be becoming ungovernable.

Of course, one would have to really wonder why reason 2 might apply... except if for example you would need to "justify" a crackdown on societal or democratic freedoms.

Surely I am exaggerating? I don't know, am I?

Asking myself this question, I am confronted with several interesting facts.

At the top of the list is the detail that something like this is beginning to happen right now with the pending reintroduction of media censorship.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

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)."

Whether we like it or not, in our fight for equality and recognition, we as a community are in the middle of a war. And no, I am not exaggerating - there are groups and religious fundamentalists who are only too pleased to call it that, and often do. Ever hear of the "culture war?" Yes, that would be the one. It is a war which, ever since 1977, has spread around the world, in which reactionary elements seek to crush those demanding their freedom and equal treatment, and the harshness dealt out by these reactionaries varies by degree. In places such as Iran, Iraq, Jamaica and Uganda, just not conforming to religious fundamentalist prescriptions of what is "normal" can get you killed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Broadening The Support Base


It seems that advocacy groups always leave somebody out somewhere. All these groups names just say "gay" and "lesbian" but few seem to include "intersex", "bisexual" or "transgender" in the name. I know the GLBTIQ acronym is a royal pain in the butt, and even that omits several other emerging groups such as asexuals. We need a global name to describe the community as a whole. And we need to make sure no group gets left out - or feels left out.

For some time I have been using the term "the Pink Community" to describe us - because to me, that is all-inclusive, no matter what sub-part you belong to, if you are not strictly heterosexual or are in any way gender-variant, you can be sure that you are included in there, somewhere.

Monday, May 3, 2010

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.