I’ve been living in Cape Town for almost nine months. I love your mountain and your beaches. I enjoy how you knock-off work early, and that you don’t scream at each other during rush hour traffic. I like your graffiti-sprayed trains, and your white-uniformed navy.
However, it has been a huge challenge to connect with people. And by ‘connect’ I don’t just mean you randomly adding me on Facebook. I mean real connections: the proper, face-to-face, long-lasting kind. Capetonians, you do have a reputation for being ‘cliquey’, and I thought I had come prepared. Now I know that I was woefully underprepared. Woefully. Like when you don’t bother to study for a difficult exam, even though you saw the model answers floating around somewhere.
So there I was. Sixteen and confused about how to approach the subject; you know, that subject. The one that makes you blush every time you would walk in the mall with your mom and you would spot a gay magazine next to her new copy of “Sarie”. Yes, I was born Afrikaans and am a lesbian. I hated that word. Did not have any love for it at all, especially not its Afrikaans counterpart. Lesbiër. Sounded like the name of a foreign exchange student no one dared talk to because of her moustache. It sounds like you should have a mop of hair on your chest.
Fast forward some ten plus years later and that word still sits rather uncomfortably with me. I do not define myself as anything but me, really. And yes, I have had really angry gay, bi, gender-queer and straight people hitting me metaphorically over the head to try and label me. I look slightly butch, but I don’t act it. My character is soft, but I have taken down men who have tried to mug me. I’m not a show off and I’m not part of the scene. What does that make me? Well…some would say I’m batman. Yes, laugh I know you are holding your mouth over your hand as you are reading this. But that is the problem; Afrikaans lesbians either identify with the local scene or they run away from it. Some form subcultures like the famous GAT parties which are predominantly an Afrikaans run and visited spot.
Remember back to a time in South Africa when homosexual marriages were not legal? Well now it is! How exciting is that? In 2006, gay marriages were declared legal in our beautiful country and once again the gays went crazy! Some of us celebrated like Bafana Bafana won the world cup, others ran off to Robben Island to get married. Sadly, most of those marriages ended in divorce. The wedding bug bit me a few years after. Yes, I was on my way to get married. Of course, not everyone wanted to believe it because marriage is something so serious and I, well as you may have noticed, am not a very serious person. So I decided to start sending out invitations. The invite went a little like this. “Come and share in this very Gay occasion with us. Close friends and family, nothing big, budget is a little small. Enjoy a light seafood platter (how ironic to have something fishy at a lesbian wedding reception), and finger treats (mom was not impressed with this one).”
Ah, that old chestnut. The theory that people simply pick and choose between sexualities as if they were the season’s hottest handbag or next season’s ‘in’ colour. This ‘trend’ seems to have been sparked by the American fashion magazine, Tatler, after they hosted a Lesbian ball last month. Celebrity lesbians, or ‘celesbians’ as they are being crudely dubbed by the press, (for instance, in this article published on London’s Evening Standard website, http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/esmagazine/the-crush-celesbians-7959254.html) have been the focus of various fashion and gossip columns of late.
According to the Evening Standard, they’d love ‘an invite to Melanie Rickey and Mary Portas’s baby shower’ and would love to have a ‘cosy night in playing scrabble with Sue Perkins… and be desperately witty.’ If the gossip and fashion magazines support lesbianism so much, why aren’t they helping readers gain awareness of the on going worldwide battle for equal marriage and activate them into campaigning for it?
It seems that they’d rather just bandy about stereotypes, the most crass and obvious ones being that people simply choose their sexuality, and that only homosexual women can be ‘desperately witty’ and be truly intelligent, and not uber feminine straight women. If Tatler held a Vladimir Putin themed ball, the gossip columns would be clamouring to incarcerate Pussy Riot for life, bring death to freedom of speech and feminism and shout about how corrupt governments are sototallyinrighthnow.
Something very alarming has caught my attention. This topic is often discussed among my friends, especially in these days where homosexuals can have all the freedom and marry each other. I'm looking at Lesbians this time as I have my own experience and can relate, and have experienced it. Dominance over one partner... PATRIARCHY.
Let's first understand the term Patriarchy. A basic definition:
1. A form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in the family, clan, or tribe, and descent is reckoned in the male line, with the children belonging to the father's clan or tribe.
2. A society, comm. unity, or country based on this social organization.
Secondly, what is a Lesbian? (In this case a Butch lesbian):
A woman who adopts what would be considered masculine characteristics.
Alternate Definition: A (traditionally) masculine man or woman, and especially a masculine lesbian. Often the "dominant" partner in a lesbian relationship, and especially within a butch/femme lesbian relationship.
Dressing masculinity does not make a woman a lesbian, contrary to popular belief; it's usually more convenient. Acting masculinity only means that's the gender role that the person identifies with; it has nothing to do with their sexual life. A highly masculine man could be gay for all we know, and a very feminine man could be straight - both of these cases are frequent.
There is a relationship between two. In these recent modern times man and woman hold an equal state in the workforce. Man and woman are both providers, and both work to earn a living. Not in every case though.
With an event as large as the Olympics, people start wondering which athletes are openly gay, and gay people express some interest in following their performance. But why should we care who is gay and who is not?
Well I think that it is very important. Coming out as an openly gay athlete just gives the world another reminder that being gay is normal. It shows the world that there are gay athletes. Athletes that succeed. Athletes that compete in the official Summer Olympics, not only in the Gay Olympics. Athletes that the world respects.
It also gives people who are still closeted a sense of hope. It reminds them that successful people can come out as gay and still be loved by the world afterwards. Maybe they start thinking that if an Olympic athlete is gay and accepted, I can be gay and accepted.
Grabbing my identity by the throat has allowed me to play with other identities in the space of play and performance. Being more secure in how I identify in terms of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation has allowed me the freedom to explore my boundaries: what I’m comfortable with and how far I can push myself.
Up until two years ago I found the feminine cloyingly repulsive and unnatural. My mother’s attempts to feminise me always left me feeling exceedingly uncomfortable, and I clearly remember the hideousness of my matric dance outfit and how I felt like a drag queen, and yet not, because it was an enforced drag, not the drag that stems from a place of play and a sense of security in one’s own gender.
If I said the following to you - Winnie, Rupert, Paddington, Yogi and Boo Boo, what would come to mind? If it was BEARS then you are on the money, if not, then you had better read on…
When people conjure the image of the ‘Homosexual Male’ what blossoms to the forefront of their minds is a beautiful Ken doll, or these days, his emaciated cousin Bob. No one automatically thinks of those hairy big-boys called Bears. Well I do…
My name is Matthew and I am a proud Bear.
Now what is a Bear you may ask? Well if you don’t know, here is a little gay knowledge for you:
Superficially a Bear is a chubby, hairy, masculine, gay male who likes beer and flannel shirts. However, according to many Bears and their admirers, the Bear culture is not so much about physical appearance. Rather it is about living a particular philosophy of acceptance, respect, and the celebration of diversity. Furthermore, a Bear is a gay man who rejoices in his masculinity (masculinity of a relaxed and unassuming nature) rather than suppressing his true gender identity to assimilate into the pretty-boy ideal of the gay ‘community’. A Bear is, well, a big teddy-bear of a man:gruff and bristly on the outside, but mellow and squishy-sweet on the inside.
Queer is an umbrella term for sexual minorities that are not heterosexual, heteronormative, or gender-binary.In the context of Western identity politics the term also acts as a label setting queer-identifying people apart from discourse, ideologies, and lifestyles that typify mainstream LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual) communities as being oppressive or assimilationist.
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