Tuesday, 6 March 2012

It took something like Mr Gay World to open my eyes...

In today's life, being gay is not always a huge problem, getting equality is still a hot topic but in general we are accepted. Well that's how i saw it anyway, but recently since i started to follow the build up to the Mr Gay World being held in my home and the country i love South Africa later this year my view as a gay man in Africa changed.

We tend to forget that not all of Africa is as forgiving when it comes to us being gay and proud. As a white South African gay male, i can walk into a mall with my boyfriend, even hold his hand and not many people will notice, a few might mumble something to themselves but that's about as bad as it gets. Being gay is tolerated but mostly people accept it. But in the rest of the continent and the rural areas being a black gay man or woman is still a big deal can end in your death.

I never thought that it was different for anyone, i always assumed because South Africa is so open minded and the fact the we have a constitution that protects my rights that it was the same for all of us, for the whole of the gay community. I couldn't have been more wrong! It took an event like Mr Gay World to open my eyes.

Mr Gay World went big in 2012 with contestants from all over the world coming to South Africa, but most most of all it will include the first black contestants from Africa, truly a first in the world when it came to the competition. But the proudness soon faded as the contestant from Zimbabwe, Taurai Zhanje withdrew stating personal reasons for his with drawl, Mr Gay Ethiopia may not be able to return home because of death threats and the contestant from Namibia got robbed by men demanding his winnings. Mr Gay Namibia Wendelinus Hamutenya, Mr Gay Ethiopia, Robel Gizaw Hailu and Mr Gay South Africa Lance Weyer will still be competing in the event.

The western world is now getting the full picture when it comes to being a black gay man or woman in Africa. Homosexuality is illegal in 38 African countries, with Mauritania, Sudan, and northern Nigeria allowing for the death penalty. In Zimbabwe the current president recently made headlines when he called told the UK Prime Minister David Cameron 'to hell with you' over gay rights because of his his pro-gay rights stance. Being gay in Africa is currently under the spotlight and various African leaders agree with Mugabe's view when it comes to the rights of gay people. Mugabe recently said:

“You, David Cameron, are you suggesting that you don’t know that or is it some kind of insanity or part of the culture of Europeans.
“In their newspapers, that’s one of my sins. That I called gays worse than pigs and dogs because pigs know there are males and females.
“I won’t even call him a dog because my own dog will complain and say, but what have I done? It’s even in the Bible that you create through the system of marrying. That’s how we were born, so we reject that outright and say, to hell with you.
“You are free as a man to marry a woman and that is what we follow. That’s what produced you and me. This kind of insanity is now part of the culture.”

With ranting like that who can blame the black LGBT for being afraid to stand up and be proud.

As a society we often think that our problems is the end of the world, but the events over the last few weeks brought some perspective into my life. What i see as the biggest problem in my world is nothing compared to what the black LGBT community in Africa deal with on a daily basis. It made me appreciate the freedom and the acceptance i have. I am still a proud gay man, but now i have even more respect and admiration for the the contestants in this years Mr Gay World and the LGBT community in the rest of Africa. One day hopefully soon we will be able to raise our hands all around the world in unity and be seen as equals with the rest of the world, but until that day comes all i can do is hope that the world will take notice of the plea of gay Africans and lend a hand in support.

The LGBT community is not about skin color, religion or ethnic origin, its about acceptance and equality. Alone we are just one person, a lonely voice in a crowd, but together we are a force to be reconed with.


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