South Africa's LGBTI newspaper since the 1980's

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Mr Mademoiselle

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Hi, im Mr Mademoiselle and I come forth to shake your concept of homosexuality, to the core – using make up. The art of slow, rapid, almost not-there self-realisation is a very beautiful thing, the fact that you are going through a defining phase/ moment/ time in your life that is somewhat significant in its own right but you cannot see it is inconceivable. It can be related to watching a hour long movie based entirely on your life and not seeing that its based on the shit you’ve had to take your sandwich with. You’re there, its happening to you, but you’re blinded by all life has to offer such as breathing and buying bread that you fail to pick up on your life’s God-goool-map rerouting your path in life.

gaybarWe unfortunately do not possess the ability to view our lives in an aerial perspective and see where it is that universe takes us, anyway..   Back to what this is actually about, masculinity, the myth, phantom, relatively circumstantial since it depends on the box secular ideologies thrown you in. I have held both shallow and abstruse conversations with many of my fellow LGBTQI brothers, sisters and fluid beings on the topic of femininity and its relation to our world, how one balances it with their masculinity and if one should, at all, try to.

Needless to say, there were many head nods and a lot of “where the fuck is this going”? moments. From the moment one comes out the closet or accepts themselves as whatever it is that they are – when it goes against societal norms that is, there is always backlash, always. But the odd thing now is, the backlash is received from both the heterosexual world’s inhabitants as well as from those in the LGBTQI community. This is because of the ‘kind of gay guy’ image that society (both cis-hetero and LGBTQI) has created fits one shade of gay that the world is okay with, that we now all should aspire to being. This is normally the “straight acting” gay guy you find, who has “Not your typical gay guy, love sports, love hiking, I don’t know who Beyoncé is” writing all over his bio’s because that somehow makes him less gay. Is it that difficult to acknowledge that we CANNOT be the same?  

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To Be A Black Gay American Man in South Africa

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By Terrance Dean

TerranceDean

I am an openly black gay man. That statement has taken me over 20 years to say out loud. To acknowledge who I am and affirm myself has been a work in progress. A lot of work. I struggled to come to terms with myself as I grew up in the black church in the United States. Religion has played a huge part of my formation and identity. Thus, and without going into minute and scholarly details, religion and religious dogma has been a violent and abusive lover that has consistently told me that I was not good enough. It was often reiterated that I was unacceptable, an abomination, and vile because of my sexuality. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I left that abusive relationship, (In the words of Beyonce, “Middle finger up, tell ‘em boy bye.”), and I began the healing process and developed my own spiritual relationship with God.

I prefaced this article with that statement because I wanted to provide some context as to why I am writing this piece. I have been asked to share about my experience as a black gay man from the States visiting South Africa, and if there were any similarities, or differences. This would take an entire critical diatribe, and a long exercised think-piece on the similarities and differences. And, in the essence of time and space, I will only point out a few things.

My experience in South Africa as a black gay man is no different than my everyday life in America. It is not without fail that in America I encounter racism, heterosexism, homophobia, and sexism. It is complex because each layer of who I am is complicated by a narrative that was formed and created under a heternormative white patriarchal system. It is unfortunate because many South Africans I encountered assumed I had a privilege, some status, some freedom, some economic, political, and social mobility that they did not have. Again, this is complex and requires a long critical essay on each topic and issue. My race, my gender, and my sexuality are all problematic in America. The very equality, rights, and respect you fight for in South Africa are the same struggles I continue to fight for in America. My black skin is a threat in white spaces. There are white people who see me and run, cross the street, or patronize me. And, as you may have seen on the news we are still fighting against a judicial system which criminalizes black people. We march through the streets against the police brutality and killings of black men and women. And, my sexuality is still seen as vile and disgusting. Many black churches continue to reject who I am. The fight is relentless.

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Stigma: A killer we can stop

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By Bruce J. Little

 

I would do anything that I can to avoid shame and embarrassment, and I will gladly duck and dive a situation in which I suspect that I may be judged by someone else and put into the “not good enough” box because being looked down on is painful. It’s as if someone is taking a bunch of negative labels and insults and spearing them onto a dart before throwing them at me and repeatedly puncturing and pinning me down me with their harsh opinions.

That is stigma. Assumptions made about someone based on limited knowledge about a characteristic that they may have.

See Mike? Mike is HIV-positive. Mike must have been promiscuous and irresponsible, right? See Jerome? He has bipolar disorder, so he must be a nightmare to be in a relationship with because he must be crazy. See Steve? He’s obese, so he must be lazy, whereas Terrence is a ginger so he must be temperamental and Dumi is Xhosa so he must also be quick to anger. The list is endless. But just how true are these assumptions and beliefs? Mostly, they are not true at all.h4mlogo

Stigma is when you jump to conclusions about somebody based on only one thing that you know about them, and it’s very dangerous because most people are like me, most people will do whatever they can to avoid this kind of judgment and discrimination.

Mike may not even know that he is HIV-positive because he is afraid to find out in case you also find out and judge him. Mike may even know that he is HIV-positive but does not take his ARVs regularly because he is scared that you might see him collecting them at the clinic. Mike doesn’t want you to think less of him. Mike could unwittingly infect someone else because he’s afraid of getting tested and he may also get sick and eventually die because he is that scared of your judgment. He wouldn’t be the first.

Like Mike, Jerome could also benefit from taking medication. With bipolar disorder taking mood stabilisers and an anti-depressant would subject him to far fewer suicidal thoughts and debilitating bouts of depression, but Jerome also doesn’t want you to put him in a box and judge him. Jerome is scared that if word gets out about his illness, nobody will want to work with him, love him or spend time with him, so Jerome stays at home and hopes that he’s not sick. His suicide months later will come as a shock to us all.

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Dr. Rad talks Flu Jab

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Dr. Oscar Radebe, Clinical Manager: Senior Medical and Communications Consultant for Health4Men, answers some questions about getting the flu vaccine.OscarRadebe
1. What is the flu vaccine, and how does it work?
Flu vaccines are created to protect against seasonal flu, which affects millions of people each year. The vaccine is trivalent, which means it is three vaccines combined into one to protect against three common viruses: influenza A (H1N1) virus, influenza A (H3N2) virus, and the influenza B virus. The vaccine is injected to stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies, which can take up to 2 weeks to fight against the virus. So, it is recommended that you get a vaccine, at least, a month before flu season starts (May/June).
2. My friend said that he got sick after he took the vaccine. Is it possible that the vaccine itself can make you sick?
No, the flu vaccine does not make you sick, but there could be other reasons why you became ill and the common ones are:
• You vaccinated late and had already been exposed to the flu virus
• Your immune system was weak at that time of vaccination, so your body could not produce enough antibodies to fight the flu
• You vaccinated in time, but the strain of the flu virus in that particular year has mutated or changed and has become resistant to the vaccine that you got

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When your BFF is living with HIV

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By Bruce J. Little

We sat around the pool chatting and laughing about stuff we’d gotten up to over the weekend.  We loved to do this; get together and compare dating war stories, and this always left us both wheezing from too much cackling and not enough breathing.  I was still mid the descending voiced sigh that usually ends a long spell of laughter when he said:  "I need to tell you something."h4mlogo

The news left me completely stunned with absolutely no idea what to say.  This is a guy that I could usually tell anything to, a person that shared my un-PC sense of humour and also loved to play in the realms of the inappropriate.  He and I sang Gaga together and flirted outrageously with petrol attendants. But I knew that what he had said was not meant to be funny. 

He wasn’t the first person I knew that was HIV-positive, but he was the first person that I knew well, and the last person I thought would ever acquire it. My first lesson, HIV is indiscriminate.

I said so many tactless things, and looking back I admire how well he coped with some of the stupid things I said and asked.  Knowing that I can't go back and change how I reacted then, at least, I can now help people to know what they should say if they ever find themselves in the same situation.

My first big mistake:  I got all formal and not like myself.  Because I felt unsure of what to say, I suddenly started to edit myself and to speak in a way that wasn't authentic. I must’ve sounded like a call centre agent from a complaints hotline. He picked it up immediately. Authenticity is the best first response.  "I'm sorry to hear that", wasn't the wrong thing to say so much as it wasn't the kind of thing I would usually say to him.  It was the kind of stuff you say to an acquaintance or disgruntled customer. I should have sworn out loud and grabbed and hugged him; that would've been more me.   What you say is not as important as the way that you say it.     

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