Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Equality 101


Recently I read a few articles that covered the Marriage Equality victory in California, and felt I had to comment on the issue. Marriage is still a bone of serious contention for our community internationally. We here in South Africa still have hate-groups intent on challenging the legality of marriage equality - once they have finished lynching freedom of the press and ripping the guts out of the Constitution, of course.

Reading the comments by the presiding judge in this case was one of those "yes!" air-punching moments for me, in which the airy-fairy bullshit arguments and junk-science of the Religious Right, in use virtually unchanged since the 1970's, was blown clear out of the water by the admission of common sense and reason - which for some strange reason seems to have been made to sit out on the bench until now.

After all, how can you put human rights to a popular vote and call it democracy? How many times do you need to redefine or haggle about the meaning of the word EQUALITY?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Are Militant Homosexual Activists An Extinct Species?


Back in the day, opponents of equality and human rights for us Pink folks used to call anyone who dared speak out against them or shoot down their ridiculous arguments "militant homosexual activists". Typically, they used to show their blatant ignorance by calling transgender activists the very same thing as well. But regardless of the details, today I have to wonder where all those "militant activists" have gone?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Home Truths


I think everyone should experience what its like to lose their rights, even just for an hour or two, so they know how it hurts when you think how it might be to go through life being made to feel like a second-class citizen - a pariah, based solely on something you ARE, something you can't change or help being - something those in power see as wrong or undesirable, particularly for no good reason other than they feel like it, or their old favorite excuse - "cos we say so".

I imagine it would do people like Errol Naidoo, the South African Deputy Minister of Home Affairs (Gigaba), The Minister of Arts and Culture (Lulu Xingwana), Pastor "God-Squad" Ray McCauley and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (to say nothing of our own Kiddie Amin) a world of good. Dr. James Dobson too - even though he has been put out to pasture recently, he has left a legacy of hatred and prejudice (and a trail of misguided parents a mile wide) that can be called his hallmark - the so-called "Culture War" we still feel the effects of today.

Monday, August 23, 2010

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.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

X Spots The Mark


On Saturday I was at a canvassing table in my voting district, asking people to sign a petition against the governments proposed new legislation which will gag the media. Surprisingly, a broad base of people of every language, race and political affiliation, signed the petition and commented freely about how bad this law would be for everyone. This was encouraging, but what still shocked me though, was the number of people who just waved me off - or laughed, as if there was something actually funny in asking people to exercise their democratic right and sign a petition against something which would strip them of their freedom to access information.

"I don't do politics" one smart looking dude told me. "But politics will do you!" I replied, while he and his girlfriend stared at me as though I were from another planet.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What Is Happening To Our Democracy?


I doodled about the matter surrounding the government's current assault on South Africa's democracy on my white board last night, and found what I'd come up with rather thought provoking, so I thought I would build it into a Powerpoint slide and share it with you.

Gender Stereotypes And Diversity


The following is a speech I made at a university in Port Elizabeth today, where I was asked to speak on stereotypes and the trans community as part of their Diversity Week. A special note of thanks to Busisiwe Deyi of the Eloquor Society.

My name is Christina Engela and I'm here to talk to you about transgender and transsexual stereotypes.

If someone just said the word "transsexual" or "transgender", what sort of image would pop up in your heads? What is the stereotype?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Word


Freedom is a funny thing. You probably take it for granted, until you wake up one morning and you haven't got it anymore. When Big Brother starts looking over your shoulder to tell you you can't watch certain kinds of characters in your favorite soapies anymore (because that is contrary to "nation-building"), or read about government's latest corruption scandal (because that would influence your vote come next election, duh), or walk down the street holding your partner's hand (because that promotes an "unhealthy lifestyle choice" and "threatens Christian family values") - then you will know the bite of censorship and miss it.

It's quite funny to note over the past week or so, that with all the petitions and civil organizations and personalities now speaking out against the "Protection of Information" Bill which would reintroduce censorship of the media in South Africa - all the right wing and fundamentalist Christian (aka Levitican) groups are deafeningly silent. Why, I wonder?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Right Man Speak With Forked Tongue


The way some pastors and religious figures speak so enthusiastically and even gleefully of others they disapprove of going to hell, one could probably picture them picking up a phone (a red one, of course) and calling the hot-line to make reservations for 70 billion or so people, give or take one or two last minute changes. In the far corner, right near the flaming inferno and the tar-pits. Smoking or non-smoking?

I've been asked a rather personal question recently by some friends, and I say it is a personal one on principle, more than actual fact. After all, most Christians I know, whether or not they feel they don't judge anyone - quite happily wear their religion on their baseball caps, t-shirts, on jewelry around their necks, bumper stickers, singing about it in the streets, and promoting it in every other sentence as if it is the "right thing" to do. I know I know, it's a religion, not a franchise - but do they know that? Not that I care what they wear or do in their spare time, but let someone wear a GLBT oriented item of jewelry, or a pro human-rights slogan on an item of clothing - or even hold hands with their partner in public, or wear a symbol of any other religion, faith or belief system around their necks - or do the unthinkable (complain about all the religious programming on TV or on the streets) and immediately they are guilty of "flaunting their immoral lifestyle" and "persecuting the church". The question I was asked was the following:

Why am I not a Christian anymore?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Plausible Inability


I was being chastised the other day, as sometimes happens - for criticizing the fundamentalist attack on democracy in one of my earlier articles - and one guy thought that by proving to me that Christians "invented" the concept of democracy, he would rubbish my argument.

I'm sorry, what?

"The concept of democracy was founded by christians, embraced by christians and is still widely supported by christians." He said.

Right. So what about all those poor Greeks who thought they invented it around 4000 years ago? Boy don't they feel stupid now? Reminds me of that old BA ad - "We didn't invent flying - we perfected it", only in my mind it goes: "We didn't invent religion - we just hijacked it".

Last but not least, we have all those Levitican leaders who are doing their level best to get global democracy to fall on its sword for the sake of their puritan sense of morality and delusions of dominion and "right to rule" and doing a fair imitation of "Pinky and the Brain".

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

You, The People


One thing I learned from history is that when you want to isolate and persecute any community, country or group - the first thing you do is to remove the thinkers, leaders and strong-willed from that group. Without them, the rest of the sheep will swallow just about anything the government spoons into the funnel called the media. Stalin did it, Hitler did it, Mugabe has done it - and if the ANC has its way, history will simply have repeated itself.

The proposed new law to control the media and introduce censorship and restrictions by the government has been described as a significant step backwards for South Africa on the downward spiral to becoming like its corrupt and impoverished neighbor, Zimbabwe.

Monday, August 2, 2010

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.