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.
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, http://youngheroes.co.za 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.
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.
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 mambaonline.com)
By Lawrence Mashiyane
It is February and, for those who care for such things as Valentine's Day, it is the month of Love. Some scurried throughout January to get someone 'special' and others are getting on the love train before the 14th. At the end of search, many will be on dates on the 14th and many will be having sex; others will probably be watching TV, but we are not interested in them for now (and clearly love isn't either). The interest is in the ones who will be on dates and/or having a shag. The interest is in what happens after Valentine's Day. After Valentine's Day, how long until the romance fizzles out and turns into a memory or worse, a one night stand? You're probably thinking not long and if you are then it means you know about the cloud that hovers over the gay community; our relationships do not last. Of course this stereotype or stigma does not apply to everyone in the gay community but, as I always say, stereotypes do not come from out of nowhere. They are not made up. Stereotypes are that big cloud of black smoke that let every one know there's a fire. It does not mean an entire building is burning, but it does mean a floor or two could be.
For any relationship to last, one thing is important and that one thing comes before love, trust and commitment/faithfulness. That one thing is compatibility. The problem with the gay community is that compatibility has been cut down to two simple things; sex role and behaviour/gender expression. "Are you top, bottom or versatile?" They ask. "Are you 'straight' acting or feminine?" Once those two questions are asked and the answers are the desired, everything is good to go! But truth is, it is not good to go. Not at all! I am not saying that those things are not important (although how greatly important is up for debate), I am saying that there is more to find out beyond those two. There is a lack of compatibility in Gay relationships and it is usually because people have two things in mind: Society and Sex.
Whether a guy is effeminate or not is usually a concern with society; especially if one is in the closet. Sometimes it is preference but also, some people prefer to be with more masculine or 'straight acting' guys because it is a lot less obvious and covert. When two guys walk down the street, looking all heterosexual, no one really thinks "oh look, there goes a gay couple" but the concern is if a guy walks with another guy who has a twist in his hips, a twang in his voice and speaks with swinging hands; it all looks too obvious. The feminine guy draws too much attention, the two guys walking together now stick out like a sore thumb. Even if some guys are 'open' and out of the closet, the still remain (if I can say) conservative. They do not want to put society on edge, draw the attention of homophobes and they believe that their sexuality is no body's business. A fear for being judged for being gay still exists.
The second concern is Sex. The "are you top, bottom or versatile question?" simply put is, "are we going to be able to fuck or not?" I reject any other interpretation, it simply amounts to that.
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.
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.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are South Africa’s most at risk population for HIV acquisition and transmission. For this reason ‘WeTheBrave’, a sexual health campaign, has been launched with MSM in mind. This will be the first large scale campaign ever in this country to specifically address gay men and other men who have sex with men.
The launch event took place in Newtown, Johannesburg on Thursday 25 June with a who’s who of LGBT and HIV activists in attendance. They were entertained by a performance by Odidi Mfenyana and heard messages from Sir Elton John, Professor James McIntyre, and others.
Spearheaded by the Anova Health Institute, and funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the WeTheBrave.co.za campaign will address both prevention and treatment issues in an affirming, non-judgemental and sex positive way, which will be entertaining and engaging.
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