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On 16 June 1976, a group of young South Africans took a stand against the injustice and inequality of Apartheid, sparking an uprising that spread across the country like wildfire. Now, on 16 June 2017, young people will once again have the chance to be part of a movement that ignites change, with the launch of Young Heroes.
Young Heroes is a new programme by the Anova Health Institute and funded by the Elton John Aids Foundation. Designed to empower adolescent LGBTI youth but specifically gay, bisexual as well as those questioning their sexuality, Young Heroes will provide them with safe spaces, access to resources and a supportive community through its social media, website and mobile platforms.
Everyone can relate and identify with that awkward phase of being a teenager or young adult.YoungHeroesColour
It’s a time filled with discovery, excitement and many changes. At the same time, it can be confusing, scary and inevitable that you ask fundamental questions about life, your place in the world and evaluate your sense of ‘self’.
Some marginalised groups face various, other additional psycosocial issues. Bullying, trolling, shaming, homophobia, prejudice, racism, social alienation, depression, suicide, cultural and religious issues, core family rejection, poverty, homelessness and limited access to information are but a few of the realities that some young people are living with.

For lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) youth this trauma can have a significant, lasting impact on their psyche, relationships and health, which is evident in our adult LGBTI communities. Research has shown that peer victimisation related to sexual orientation and gender identity or expression is associated with a diminished sense of belonging, disruptions in educational trajectories and frequent substance use. It is also linked to high levels of depressive symptoms and even suicide*.

Furthermore, the LGBTI youth are at high risk of HIV infection which is elevated due to the unique challenges they face that can limit their access to support services and HIV prevention resources **. These include losing financial and moral support from families and friends who do not accept their sexuality, discomfort with disclosing their sexual orientation or sexual behaviours to healthcare providers as well as being stigmatised, discriminated against and subjected to violence.

“Young Heroes equips young men with the tools to embrace their sexuality and physicality, cope with prejudice and stigma as well as protect themselves and their partners from sexually transmitted infections and HIV. The platform also ensures that they have access to healthcare services that support sexual and mental health should they need it. All this within a space that provides a feeling of belonging, solidarity and non-judgment,” says Nina Morris Lee, Head of Marketing at the Anova Health Institute, which has teamed up with the Elton John Aids Foundation to deliver this project.

“The original Young Heroes of 1976 altered the socio-political landscape of this country profoundly and forever - demonstrating how formidable and resourceful the youth can be in bringing about change. Today’s Young Heroes have the same opportunity to change not only their lives - by making healthy, smart decisions - but also the lives of others and the world around them as a result,” concludes Morris Lee.

Join the movement by visiting the Young Heroes website, as well as by following the Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages. Look out too for the Young Heroes team visiting selected schools around the country and at the Department of Health’s Youth Day event at the Johannesburg Expo Centre.

Singing Johannesburg banker wins Miss Gay Jozi 2017

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Boene Ntshilo, a 20-something banker from Northcliff, has been crowned Miss Gay Jozi 2017; taking home Gauteng’s most prestigious drag pageant title.

Ntshilo, who is also a singer, competed against 15 other finalists to win the coveted prize at a glittering ceremony at the Simply Blue nightclub on Saturday night.

Under the theme of a “Festival of Colours” the pageant kicked off with a Bollywood-influenced introduction to the contestants, who also took part in swimwear and evening wear segments.

The top six were then each asked a question from the judges about pressing issues and challenges facing the LGBT community.MissGayJozi2017a

The show also included performances by the likes of singer Roaun Justin Powell, Sjarmante Diamante, Labelz D’Glamore, the S.A.T. Divas, and, of course, the inimitable host Zsa-Zsa Whitney Gabor-Houston.

At the end of the night, an emotional Ntshilo emerged victorious as the Queen. She was followed by Crystal Guns, as 1st Princess, and Ntokazy Tshabalala, the 2nd Princess.

Ntshilo, who is originally from Schweizer-Reneke, had competed in the pageant twice before and came second last year. “I was overjoyed,” she says about the moment her name was finally called out as the winner. “I was in disbelief. I had a great deal of emotion and I didn’t know how to contain it.”

Ntshilo explained that she entered the pageant because of how it empowers its contestants. “It groomed me to be more confident. Growing up I used to have self-esteem issues, and my sister advised me to enter a pageant to improve myself.”

According to Ntshilo, Miss Gay Jozi has an important role to play in the community. “It allows us to come together. It is important that we get to know other LGBT people and their stories and backgrounds, and to build bonds amongst the contestants.”

She added: “It feels great to be amongst people that I am similar to. I don’t feel so different. Miss Gay Jozi taught me so much about myself and showed me that other people have gone through the same experiences as I did; we suffered the same pain, the same differences and the same upbringing. We can relate to each other.”

As for the issues that she plans to address during her reign, one stands out for her; internal discrimination and stigma within the LGBT community itself.

“Whether you are ‘straight acting’ or a feminine guy, we are all gay and we need to treat other well first before we expect others to accept us and love us. I want us to understand each other as gay people. There is discrimination amongst ourselves and we need to correct that. We need to build each other up.”

Ntshilo also hopes that the win will give her fledgling music career a boost. “As a singer trying to penetrate the industry I’m trying to challenge the doors closed to me. Because of my sexuality, I have suffered doors closing. We as gay people have to work ten times harder. Why should our talent be overlooked?” she asked.

(Pic from

Activists demand justice NOW in 5 Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Intersex (LGBTI) hate crime cases

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Activists in the LGBTI sector are speaking out about the appalling delays and injustices in five ongoing hate crime cases.

The cases have been selected by the Love Not Hate national campaign to illustrate severe lapses in the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to LGBTI people, ahead of protests to demand immediate action by the authorities.

The five cases being highlighted include shocking incidents of rape, torture and murder of LGBTI people as well as anti-LGBTI hate speech:

1. The stabbing murder of 35-year-old openly gay music student Bobby Motlatla in Potchefstroom on 10 November 2015. (552 days of justice denied.)
2. The torture and brutal killing of 23-year-old gay man David Olyne in Ceres on 22 March 2014. (1150 days of justice denied.)
3. The stabbing to death of transwoman Phoebe Titus from Wolseley in broad daylight on 27 December 2015. (505 days of justice denied.)
4. The mutilation, rape and murder of 21-year-old lesbian matric pupil Motshidisi Pascalina Melamu in Evaton on 18 December 2015. (514 days of justice denied.)
5. The hate speech against the LGBTI community by Nhlanhla Buthelezi on behalf of the People’s Revolutionary Movement in KwaZulu-Natal in May 2016. (379 days of justice denied.)5JusticeDenied

“Not only is the criminal justice system failing these and other LGBTI victims of hate, but so too are the structures initiated by government to tackle this scourge,” says Lerato Phalakatshela, Hate Crime Manager at OUT LGBT Well-being and spokesperson for the Love Not Hate campaign.

“While we have worked with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development alongside its Task Team and Rapid Response Team for a number of years, we have now been forced to admit that these are not delivering what was expected.”

The National Task Team on Gender and Sexual Orientation-Based Violence against LGBTI Persons was announced in 2011, while the Rapid Response Team to monitor and fast track pending and reported LGBTI related cases was launched in 2014. LGBTI civil society groups now say that these units are not performing.

In the last year, of 26 cases submitted to the Task Team, just one has been successfully resolved. Of updates requested from the Rapid Response Team in September 2016 concerning 22 outstanding cases, responses to just six of the cases have been returned; and these responses can only be described as inadequate. Meetings of the teams are often delayed or do not take place, and there is still no functioning Rapid Response Team in Gauteng.

“We can no longer remain quiet about the injustices and incompetence being experienced by members of our community, one which remains beset by discrimination and violence,” says Phalakatshela.

He notes a recent report commissioned by Love Not Hate that found that 44% of surveyed LGBTI people said they had experienced discrimination in their everyday life. Alarmingly, 41% of those surveyed knew of someone who had been murdered due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

On the 30th of May, activists will picket in Hatfield in Pretoria demanding that the lives of LGBTI people be taken seriously. Members of the LGBTI community and their allies are urged to show their support by gathering at the offices of OUT LGBT Well-being (1081, Pretorius St, Hatfield) from 7:30 am.

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The truth about gay men, sex and penis size

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The surprising facts prove we have bigger things to worry about

We all know that penis size is one of men’s greatest obsessions but most don’t know the surprising truth behind the size myths.
Did you know, for example, that humans are better endowed than all our primate cousins? You may expect a gorilla to be better hung than you but you would be wrong, both in terms of absolute and relative size.Penissize
The subject has been firmly on the agenda with a couple of big stories recently.
A penis transplant on a 21-year-old in South Africa has apparently been a success. He had lost his penis in a botched circumcision at age 18 but now has a fully functioning member, capable of urination, erection, orgasm and ejaculation.
It makes you wonder if one day, lab-grown or donated penises will be grafted on to men who have extreme concerns over size.
And at the start of March we learned about a study of 15,000 penises, finally answering the question of average size.
The typical penis is just 13.12cms (5.16ins) long and 11.66cms (4.6ins) around when erect.
The study also busted the myth that size varies with race. While scientists say the sample wasn’t quite big enough to reach a firm conclusion on this, they found no link between size and race.
Most people assume average size is much bigger. 6ins or even 7ins are commonly quoted figures.
Despite everyone wanting to be big, we tend to underestimate our own size too. The angle at which you look down on your penis leads you to think it’s smaller than it really is and if you have any fat on your belly, that only makes it worse.
There’s evidence gay men take all this particularly seriously. A study by Utrecht University in the Netherlands around a decade ago showed penis length had a big impact on gay men’s self esteem.
In the worst cases men – gay, bi and straight – can suffer from body dysmorphic disorder. This can even lead to anti-social behavior, depression and suicide.

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Single and Easy (But not that kind of easy)

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By Bruce J. Little

Not sure if it’s me getting older and more set in my ways, or just wishful thinking, but I am finding it so much easier to be single this time around. I know, I know… When someone goes on about how “happy” they are to be single, it’s usually a case of trying to convince others to try and convince yourself. But this time it really isn’t all that bad! In fact, it has its awesome moments. It only took me five minutes back on the “Grind” as a new singleton to see how many people in open relationships there are in Jozi alone. Plench! And I’ve come to realise that relationships and how we define them are rapidly mutating and changing to meet our needs. It’s exciting to think that I can define the boundaries of my next relationship to suit my needs as well as those of my partner. We won’t have to conform to anybody else’s standards. But I’m in no rush for that to happen because my current singular status has its benefits. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being someone’s boyfriend. I loved the nesting and cuddling and Netflix and chilling, but I’m also really enjoying being able to watch whatever I feel like watching now. I have a lot of freedom at the moment and can do whatever I feel like whenever I feel like doing it, and it’s quite rad. Being a considerate person, I find myself regularly considering the person I am in a relationship with. But at present I can be selfish and consider myself. I’m taking it easy and it’s great. I’m taking care of myself, working on improving and building myself up. I’m giving myself TLC and I’ve come to realise that it’s something that I do very well. I’ve always known that I have a lot of love to give, and now I’m enjoying reflecting some of that good stuff back at myself.Leathercouch

There are so many options open to me. I can go on dates, or I can stay at home in my PJs watching series and eating almond butter out of the jar, if that’s what I want to do. Because I like to keep having options, I always ensure that I have condoms and water-based lube somewhere on hand or in my car’s cubbyhole, just in case “summin summin” should come up. I also make sure I replace them regularly and don’t let them expire. I’m not really big on one-night-stands anymore. I can be as frigid as a Friar or represent the “hoe is life” philosophy and embrace “Hoeism” if taken by the spirit at a later stage, and what’s more? I can change these states of mind from day to day as it suits me.

If I eventually do start to lean more towards the “Hoeism” side of the spectrum I could also consider the possibility of going on PrEP. I have choices. I have a lot of power to decide these things for myself and it feels good being able to exercise these choices. No man is an island, but at this stage of my journey I am finding that being just one is a load of fun.

Bruce J. Little is a contributing writer for Anova Health Institute. These are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova and its affiliates.

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