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#1High #1Low #1Lesson #1Goal

1High 1Low 1Lesson 1Goal

2014 was a difficult year for me but it was a productive year in many aspects.

One of the most important things that I can be grateful for was summed up by my partner Petrus: I didn’t have to spend a single day in hospitals this Christmas just to be with my Family.

Last Christmas both my Dad and Sister were in Hospital. My Sister had an emotional breakdown as a result of an abusive relationship, this Christmas we spent Christmas together at our family home. This time my Sister was with somebody who appreciated her and looked so well after her. I went to visit my Dad, who had a massive stroke now a year ago, at a home where he’s being cared for. It is difficult to see my Dad as he is still paralyzed and still can’t speak. Hopefully 2015 will give more opportunities for my Dad to improve his quality of life.

#1High

Some of my unforgettable memories for this year was with Joburg People’s Pride. After months of stress, many hours of work and getting a few servings of Drama the 2nd annual People’s Pride March happened. At the after March event despite having started to rain halfway through Moonchild’s performance Pride-goers joined her dancing in the rain. After having to worry that the rest of my make-up wasn’t going to melt off and hoping the sound was going to be ok I managed to join everyone for a minute in the rain. This moment was symbolic to me as it meant that despite obstacles and Drama everything would work out fine.

While standing watching the crowd of people from the sound booth my Friend Fino said: “Look at all these people, if it wasn’t for you it wouldn’t have happened”. Well, I couldn’t have done it without her help as well as the hard work and dedication of a lot of other people who were there behind the scenes. Shall I call them the “Ally Cats”? We managed to pull it off by hook or by crook.

#1Low

While thinking about any real low moments I had this year they were in fact few. I had moments of anger, despair and frustration but they were eventually resolved. I had some issues at work but one thing I learned from my day job is that a person is placed somewhere by the Universe for a reason and that you should have patience especially if at that point in time you can’t go anywhere else.

#1Lesson

One of my Biggest lessons for this year I learned was the following: No single goal no matter how big or small is easily achieved. Even if I was fooling myself that something was going to be easy to achieve I quickly came to understand that it would still take some hard work.

Another thing I had to admit to myself was that I wasn’t ready for full-time activism work yet. Activism is hard work in fact it is gut wrenching hard work, as proven when helping to organise People’s Pride, but the rewards are endless as you find yourself influencing a consciousness positively and constantly reevaluating and improving yourself.

At this stage I’m a career womyn who navigates through the perils of Capitalism. I find myself either constantly battling with patriarchs or educating them in my rather unapologetic ways. Although my radical activist friends might critique me for my compromise with capitalism I find the resources created by this compromise pretty useful in my activism work. Only time will tell if I’ll be able to take the big leap into a far more radical sphere of life.

#1Goal
Ok, let me admit, I have a few goals for 2015.
One goal I have is to have more experiences that make me the human that I am. For many years now I have been a workaholic seeing people live their lives, seeing life pass me by. I need to get out more and experience more things. Finish en Klaar!

I also want to read more. I read a lot of news and articles but it is books I’m after.
I read far too little books and I often feel light years behind my brainy friends who read quite a lot.

The Carla at the beginning of 2014 wanted to leave some sort of legacy behind. Now at the end of 2014 when my intended legacy has been left I realise that there is far more that I can do. Once again I know that I shouldn’t compare my own life to other people’s as I had different circumstances. I’m a late bloomer and I’ve learned that even that is Ok.

I’ve made an agreement with myself that each year I’ll either be busy with a long-term course or short course or at the very least learn a new skill. My Mom gave me the priceless advice when I was younger that a person should be a lifelong student.

To be prepared. I live by my Diary, to-do-lists and Wishlists. My Diary helps me to plan ahead and my Wishlists set goals for me and even though I cannot achieve them in the short-term I know that I am guiding myself towards them. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
Especially this year I have seen goals materialise that I have been planning and visualising for a few years so the key is patience and sometimes lots of it! LOL

When it comes to big goals I know that I need to plan the baby steps to get to them. One doesn’t just wake up one day having  achieved something big. It always takes months, even years of planning and preparation.

So many people have asked me what kind of feel I have for 2015. Well, one thing I realised is that no year in the history of humankind has been easy, don’t expect 2015 to be any different.

Secondly create stability in an unstable future. With all the conflict happening in the world at the moment it is best to create not just a stable environment at say home or at work but also stability within oneself.

Thirdly seek out time with family and friends constantly reconnecting for there comes a time in one’s life that family and friends become memories, hopefully good memories!

What do I take away from this?
Although I’ve planned for 2015 I know that I should plan for the unexpected as well. Things don’t always work out 100% as planned but it is best to have some sort of strategy in place so that eventually some goals can be achieved.

To you reading this may 2015 be one step closer to the light. May it be a blessed year  with strength during times of tribulation but may you still live life to the fullest.

What is your #1High  #1Low  #1Lesson for 2014 and your #1Goal for 2015? Let me know!

Have a great year!

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Queer & Trans (Art)iculations: Collaborative Art for Social Change

PHOTOS BY GERMAINE DE LARCH

Queer and Trans Art-iculations Collaborative Art for Social Change Zanele Muholi & Gabrielle le Roux

I have been visiting the Wits Art Museum (WAM) on a number of occasions now for events linked to Gabrielle Le Roux and Zanele Muholi’s joint Exhibition, Queer & Trans (Art)iculations: Collaborative Art for Social Change. I definitely think I could tell more about this experience. Zanele’s part of the Exhibition is called ‘Mo(u)rning‘ and Gabrielle’s is called ‘Proudly African & Transgender and Proudly Trans in Turkey’.

This exhibition is presented in partnership with the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies and Inkanyiso:

wits art museumWits Centre for Diversity Studies logo

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GABRIELLE LE ROUX

Gabrielle’s exhibition features Portraits and video material of especially Transgender and Intersex Activists from Africa and Turkey. Gabrielle told me that not enough awareness and advocacy is being done about Transgender and specifically Intersex issues and it is more sexual orientation that gains a lot of support. Transgender and Intersex concerns tend to be neglected. It is good to know that an artist out there is exploring this very sensitive topic with such a high degree of Love and Compassion.

With all the social media and internet in the world there is still something about an art exhibition which touches a person on a different level altogether. I think It is the mark of the artist and the person’s story which gets told that manifests itself in a far more physical way than what electronic means can accomplish.

One thing that I realised about Gabrielle’s exhibition was that you need to spend quality time with her works by reading the artistic statements that come with each Portrait. The reason for this is that Each Portrait tells a small biography of the person who has been drawn. So guess what? I, Miss De Bouchet, read each and every artistic statement of every portrait! I was reading even when Gabrielle came to say Hi. I was reading when my man came to ask me how long we would be at the gallery. I was reading when Germaine De Larch and her partner Ang Lloyd were almost about to politely drag me away from the Portraits. LOL

Gabrielle took one defining statement from each person she drew and incorporated it into the portrait. A Necklace of Words of Sorts I would think. This contributed to the overall beauty of the Portraits and told a story even if you didn’t have chance to read the artistic Statements.

Proudly African and Transgender 

The portraits in this series tell  stories of People from different parts of Africa many of whom are asylum seekers, who have even come to South Africa to flee the Violence and Murder in their own countries. It is unfortunate that these LGBTI Asylum seekers face xenophobia in South Africa and there is often very little support for these individuals to survive unless they get into contact with NGO’s which deal with such cases. Each person tells how they have overcome many different obstacles in their journeys. When a person sees what these people have achieved regardless of circumstances you realise a sense of resilience in their lives. I would think that after experiencing the kind of Violence, Hatred and Discrimination that these people have faced I am not surprised that a lot of them have become activists. I always say that if something affects you more directly then you are prone to address it with more enthusiasm.

The more I read stories like these the more I realise that the very existence and visibility of LGBTI people is an act of resistance and a form of activism. So even if a lot of LGBTI people don’t like getting involved with activism or even political education their visibility is a form of passive activism. This however doesn’t give anybody an excuse to not get involved with the LGBTI Struggle. I now realise how fortunate I am that I experience a level of safety in South Africa as the laws here protect me despite not being implemented properly. I also see that Race plays a part in this ‘Safety’ I experience. Black Bodies do not experience the same kind of safety that I enjoy and are often vulnerable to all forms of attack, whether emotional, physical or psychological especially in the townships where these spaces are not as well policed as the Suburbs.

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SALLY GROSS

Sally Gross Portrait by Gabrielle Le Roux

Sally Gross Portrait by Gabrielle Le Roux

If it wasn’t for Gabrielle’s exhibition I would not have discovered the tireless activist and unsung heroine (no, not the drug) for Intersex rights, Sally Gross. Although Sally’s portrait was the First of Gabrielle’s works I viewed I kept going back to it. There was something about this Human being that spoke to me. Sally was the Founder and Director for the organisation Intersex South Africa.

In the Artistic Statement for Sally’s Portrait she mentioned that she had deteriorating personal health and that her time on this Earth was limited. Sally had relied on the kindness of her friends to support her whether emotionally or financially with her medical bills. She had been in a wheelchair for a while.

Little did I know that Sally’s time was really up. Sally Passed away on Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2014.

Sally’s “It Gets Better” Campaign Video:

Gabrielle told me that the Spotlight which had shone onto Sally Gross’ portrait kept going out during the course of the exhibition. This I find to be profound as it may have been a sign from the Universe that Sally’s candle was about to be snuffed out. Her light though, would shine on for any other Intersex activists who would follow in her footsteps.

Inscribed on the wall next to Sally Gross’ Portrait were the following words:

“We have all been raised to believe that humanity is made up only of men and women who can be neatly categorised by their genitals at birth. Fierce policing of this myth means that people whose bodies and lives prove that gender and sex are multiple, richer and more complex than we are ever told, are faced with many forms of violence and discrimination.”

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I have never even met Sally Gross but her story touched me long before her death. Although I’m not Intersex, I could relate to her. For quite some time she was fighting against a intersexphobic system. She died a lonely death in her flat in Cape Town. As an Activist I am mindful of that loneliness at times where it seems the entire world and even my LGBTI brothers and sisters are against what I have learnt and unlearnt.

A Memorial will be held for the Late Sally Gross on Saturday 29 March, 12:30 pm at the Wits Art Museum. You can join the Facebook event Here for more info.

If you would like to read up more about Sally and her remarkable Story you can see Maureen Isaacson’s Article in the Daily Maverick Here or an earlier story published about her by The Witness Here.

Proudly Trans in Turkey

When reading through the artistic statements of the activists in Turkey I discovered many interesting things regarding stigma. The overwhelming majority of the people from Turkey who Gabrielle Drew are in fact sex workers. Some became sex workers as they couldn’t find a job due to Societal Stigma but there are some who had chosen sex work as a career. My first reaction was, these poor people being forced to do something which they don’t want to do and defiling their bodies like that. Well Gabrielle said that we shouldn’t “patronise” these people for the work they do. Due to much stigma still surrounding sex work a lot of people may laugh at me when I say Sex Work is a valid career and profession. Many People who choose to do sex work are often good at what they do and they enjoy doing it. So the question stands, why should society still have a problem with Sex workers? Shouldn’t they have rights as well and why hasn’t it been decriminalised in a ‘progressive’ country like SA? SA is not as progressive in practice as what some people may think despite all our pretty policies and laws.

Two quotes from the Portraits of the Trans activists from Turkey that Spoke to me a lot:

Esmeray, Istanbul: “The LGBT movement should not limit itself to the problems of LGBT people only. We are living in a patriarchal system and the only way to stand against this system is feminism.”

“How can a person dare to kill a trans individual and then boast about this murder on TV? How can it be that simple and normal?”

Killings and violence towards Transgender People in Turkey seem to be normalised by their mainstream media.  Turkish Transgender people face discrimination with something as basic as their Identity books.
You either get a pink or a blue ID book, there’s nothing with a neutral colour like Green. There it looks like the government chooses what gender you are and if you identify your gender differently then that’s your Ndaba (Story). Much work needs to be done there regarding Gender issues and just like in South Africa such issues may have to be resolved in Court or even better a Gender Revolution.

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Mo(u)rning
ZANELE MUHOLI
I have not really had the privilege to spend some quality time with Zanele and I hope that with any future projects I will get the opportunity.

When I went to visit the exhibition with Germaine De Larch, Germaine’s partner Ang Lloyd and my Man Petrus for my second time we received a delightful walkabout-talkabout of Zanele’s exhibition with Thekwane ‘Bongi’ Mpisholo who works at Inkanyiso. Inkanyiso is an LGBTI education and advocacy organisation which documents the lives of especially Black Lesbian, Gay and Transgender People in South Africa and often takes their work overseas taking local stories onto a international platform.

Zanele’s Exhibition is quite interactive with a diverse range of textures, sounds and images to experience. Just like with any other exhibition a person needs to spend quality time with her works to understand the bigger picture. The bigger picture of Homophobia, Lesbiphobia,  violence, Murder, Rape and discrimination in especially SA townships is pieced together one art piece at a time.

When a person walks into Zanele’s exhibition the first objects which greet you are miniature graves of unnamed victims and this sets the atmosphere for the exhibition: Sombre.

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There isn’t just doom and Gloom, despite the murder the uniqueness of different LGBTI people is celebrated.

A large part of Zanele’s exhibit has black and white photo portraits of Transgender, Gender non-conforming, Lesbian and Gay people. Bongi explained to us that Zanele is aiming to document as many LGBTI people as possible to have an extensive collection of photo portraits. Each LGBTI person has a unique story to tell and thus I can understand why Zanele would want an extensive collection: it’s so interesting and beautiful. Apparently Zanele’s Portrait Collection has well over 600 LGBTI individuals who have been documented and it is growing still. Among the myriad of different photo portraits one notices a few gaps. I didn’t make much of it but then Bongi explained that LGBTI people who had been murdered had their portraits removed out of respect for their families. Makes Sense. They left a gap which could never again be filled.

Rosaries
Four Giant Rosaries dangle from a double volume ceiling. The beads made from tennis balls and the crosses made from knives. The Four rosaries are symbolic of four hate Crime victims who had been murdered recently. The Tennis Balls, well they were the only thing big enough to look like a giant bead!
Bongi explained to us that the reason why Zanele chose the rosaries is that she is Catholic and some of the recent victims of Hate Crime Murders were Catholic. The knives represent the fact that the four victims had been stabbed to death. Zanele’s use of not just knives but other kitchen utensils like egg-lifters and Carving forks makes me think of these victims being seen as “meat” by their murderers. A misogynistic saying springs to mind when thinking of this imagery: “meat is meat and a man must eat”. I can still remember saying to myself how religion could have been symbolically used as a weapon to kill these victims. Chilling.

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Zanele doesn’t just do photographic work, one of her other passions is to do video documentation of LGBTI people’s lives. Zanele and her team travel to different parts of the country to capture unique moments from Pride Marches to Beauty Pageants.

Thapelo Makhutle Funeral
At Zanele’s exhibition a person walks into a Cubicle which somehow gives a person the feel of a church with small wooden benches. On the floor in front of the “pews” a long colourful wreath perfect for a casket. A leopard print blanket. A video projected of the funeral of Thapelo Makhutle, a Gay person from Kuruman, a victim of Hate Crime who was murdered.

The Mural Wall
Outside the “funeral box” was a mural wall with quotes of Victims of Hate Crimes, of Violence and Murder who had been interviewed.
When reading these quotes one cannot feel anything but despair, sadness and even anger for what these human beings have gone through. While reading the quotes myself I could see a few people becoming very emotional while reading them as well.

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In one secluded corner of the WAM exhibition Space is a feedback wall where visitors can share their experiences and responses. I found this to be quite handy as this makes a visitor sit and reflect on what sights, sounds, thoughts and emotions have been experienced.

What I take away from This:
*I am incredibly Privileged, even as a white Transgender person. I don’t face even close to the amount of hatred, stigma, discrimination and violence that my African LGBTI friends face in the Townships and yes even Trans individuals in Turkey.

* Laugh all we want but Sex Work is a valid profession and Sex Workers need to be given the same rights as any other person to have adequate access to Healthcare, HIV prevention, protection from violence, rape (yes sex workers do get raped!) and adequate access to legal protection under the Law. Amen.

* More awareness and advocacy needs to be done about Transgender and Intersex Issues. As a transgender being I cannot wait for the next person to get involved. I need to get down and dirty myself as well.

* If there is one area I can focus on for my future Art Projects, it can be with Intersex and Transgender issues.

If you would like to visit this thought-provoking exhibition there is still some time left:

The Wits Art Museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 16:00.                  Corner Bertha (extension of Jan Smuts Avenue) and Jorissen Streets, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.                                                           

The Exhibition Runs until 30 March 2014.

For More info on the Exhibition and other events being held there you can go to WAM’s site Here.

For Photo’s of the Exhibition opening you can click here to visit Inkanyiso.

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Launch of the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies

Wits Centre for Diversity Studies logowits art museum

On 20 February I attended the Launch of the Wits Centre for Diversity studies (WiCDS) held at the Wits Art Museum (WAM) in Braamfontein Johannesburg. The visual activist Gabrielle Le Roux had invited me along to her joint exhibition with Zanele Muholi called “Queer and Trans Art-iculations: Collaborative Art for Social Change” which was also running at the same time.

We were an hour late and I told my partner Petrus that hopefully we just missed the boring Speakers. LOL

When we arrived I was met with Gabriel Khan and Zazi Dlamini who were standing outside WAM to escape what would seem like hot air either from the speakers or the air-conditioning that was not up to scratch. I guess it was the air-conditioning.

Gabriel was smartly dressed with his rather tailored looking jacket and cocktail-sipping-pose while having a glass of wine. I told Gabriel that both Petrus and I felt a bit overdressed. Gabriel was dressed smart as apparently he is “notoriously single”.

We strolled into one of the atriums of WAM which was usually occupied by a restaurant type setup but which had been converted into a make-shift jazz bar with a podium, minus the smoke and dim lights of course. Galleries like their clinical lighting. Spare the Drama, the art pieces should possess such.

One of the things that I realised was that the atmosphere was very informal. It was basically a bunch of intellectuals, artists, academics, activists, students, artists etc huddled around a podium and people were casually having low volume conversations while somebody was rambling the Thank You’s. I actually found this to be weird. I thought that it would be a hushed space where people would attentively be listening to the speaker while keeping their mouths shut. I found their disregard of the speaker to be disrespectful.

Nomboniso Gasa tvsa.co.za

Nomboniso Gasa – Source tvsa.co.za

Social activist, Speaker, Researcher (gulps for air) and analyst Nomboniso Gasa came up next to speak. The first thing she asked is why as a black woman she is not listened to and that she is told to shut up. She reprimanded the audience for being disrespectful and demanded that everybody listen as SHE was talking. I was immediately amused by this. Here we had a woman, no a Black woman demanding respect and not making any excuses or being apologetic about it. I loved it!

Nomboniso wondered why in a country like SA we only have a certain way of looking at Culture, at religion, gender and sexual orientation. Each person’s interpretation of being is subjective but it does not mean that it is always wrong. When a man rapes a woman the Man might see himself as having taken advantage of a woman but the woman sees it as rape. She mentioned the racism incident at Free State University and criticised it’s rector and management for enforcing their views and their world of thought on affected parties without looking at respective interpretations and looking at evidence. Duh. We have all seen the headlines of the two white students who allegedly drove over a black student after attempting to plough into three other black female students. Let us not even begin with the adverts that were placed for “non-affirmative action” student accommodation!

In a country like South Africa we have the tendency these days to avoid or side-step the ugly issue of racism. We gloss over it with our Rainbow Flag and 11 official languages but underneath it all the stench of inequality and discrimination still prevails. In Afrikaans we always say “blink kant bo, stink kant onder” (shiny side up, stinky side under)

Culturally, Nomboniso wondered why a black woman from Rural Eastern Cape would be required to act a certain way, speak a certain way when in fact each person has their own way of interpreting their culture. It is their bodies after all. Then there was that moment when Nomboniso said that she is tired of whiteness and she is tired of studying it. I so wished my friends Kwezilomso or Sekoetlane were there to hear that one!

Nomboniso critiqued Helen Zille for saying with the whole Agang party Saga that Mamphela Ramphele has once again demonstrated that she cannot be trusted. Yesterday we had Zille and Ramphele kissing yet today we have a white person implying that a black woman could not be trusted to begin with. “If that’s not racist then I don’t know.” Said Nomboniso.

Nomboniso strongly criticised President Zuma for his views on what being an African is and nevermind what it is to be South African. After a group of Black Female intellectuals had told him that his views are very neo-colonialist he dismissed their arguments and called them ‘Clever Blacks’. We know how dangerous ‘Clever Blacks’ are to an oppressive government that bows to the whims of Neo-colonialists!

Nomboniso paid homage to Sally Gross and how this tireless activist for transgender and especially intersex rights had a very lonely journey and struggle. (You can read a great story on Sally Gross Written by Maureen Isaacson here) Nomboniso mentioned an incident on Facebook where Sally had been confronted with a highly transphobic person who said she must remove herself from the person’s page. Sally responded that she has killed herself repeatedly from pages, from people’s lives. She said that she was here to stay and if this person wanted her to go off his page this person knew which buttons to click.

Sally Gross Portrait by Gabrielle Le Roux

Sally Gross Portrait by Gabrielle Le Roux

Sally Gross very much had a Lonely Struggle, let's support each other as activists as the battle is long and hard.

Sally Gross very much had a Lonely Struggle, let’s support each other as activists as the battle is long and hard.

What made me laugh the most about Nomboniso was that she said that WiCDS Prof Melissa Steyn and entourage were mad for starting a centre like this. She knew that she would publish commentary sooner or later saying that they didn’t know what they were doing. LOL talk about being blunt! Nomboniso said that there would be people in this country who would be uncomfortable with such a centre. The centre is opened at a difficult time with the Father of Multiculturalism Stuart Hall having passed away. Stuart Hall had spoken about a certain Queasiness, about being uncomfortable when dealing with Racism and multiculturalism. Sooner or later when one wants to change things you’d have to get uncomfortable.

Meeting Gillian Schutte
I had seen Gillian Schutte at Joburg People’s Pride in 2013 and I was so busy prancing around in my sculptural technicolour Dress that I didn’t have time to meet Gillian Properly who was documenting the event.

Gillianschutte.co.za

Gillian Schutte – Source Gillianschutte.co.za

While listening to speakers I noticed Gillian and when I had the chance I tapped her on the shoulder asking “how’s the chicken farmer doing?”
Now that would be a insane thing to ask someone especially when meeting them for the first time but let me explain.

Gillian has quite a diverse career history whether from banking to being a writer; film-maker; waitress and yes Gillian was also a chicken farmer. Gillian said that this career diversity usually ran parallel with her choice in Partners or Lovers. This I knew long before meeting Gillian thanks to Facebook but we all know it just doesn’t beat meeting someone face to face.

Even when I had arrived at WAM I already had the feeling that I needed a drink especially after battling the roads to avoid e-Tolls. Gillian asked a bunch of students if they knew a good watering hole close by and they suggested the Great Dane. So off we went with my man and Gillian’s friend Sue Kemp in the back of the bakkie and Gillian and I chatting away all the way down 2 or three blocks. An issue with not paying our cover charge with our bank Cards changed our course and we ended up in Kitchener’s Bar.
Kitchener’s is a very interesting Space where Colonial themes of the past are the backdrop of a joint with very much an African vibe and great African Music.

My first impression of Gillian was that she is very down-to-earth in fact if she was more down-to-earth she’d probably be a pancake. At WAM Gillian and I had started talking about the victims of the Marikana Massacre, their families as well as other communities negatively affected by mining activities. Working in the Mining industry Gillian and I could relate with each other’s stories.

Gillian still couldn’t believe that I’m a transgender person working in a very masculine industry. In an industry where women have only recently been included, talk of having inclusivity of Transgender people is unheard of.
I must admit that I was lucky in getting my job and that I battle and resist patriarchy on a daily basis. Even my boss who is a Black woman says: “It’s a man’s world” I say Fuck That.

Amongst Gillian’s many talents she is actually quite a good palm reader. She looked intensely at my palm and said that up until the age of 7 I was my Full self, true. I have two lives but one of them is slowly fading away, true. I will travel somewhat but not as much as others, better than nothing I guess? There is a place that has to do with my ancestors that I will return to at a later stage in my life, hmmm interesting. Lastly that I am a highly artistic and sensual person, definitely! Gillian Gave me a beautiful  “African Renaissance” Deck (No it’s Deck) of Cards where instead of Kings, Queens and Jacks there were four Southern African Cultures on them namely the Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi People. Instead of Diamonds; Clubs; Spades and Hearts the cards had Clay Pots, Beads, Shields and Huts on them. It’s quite thoughtful when somebody gifts you with something special when meeting you for the first time.

After an interesting night of meeting friends for the first time, fortune-telling, Dancing to Reggae and getting a crash course on respect it was time to go home. I honestly don’t know why I’m not living in Joburg, maybe it’s because living in a small town grounds me and makes me vigilant of the struggles other’s face daily.

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2014 I’m Ready For You

2014 Im Ready for You copy

How weird to be doing my first Blog post for 2014 about 2013, it might not make sense but this is how I reflect on the year that has passed in a blogging kind of way.

I had started the year off with many projects and aspirations but it seems that a few have crashed and burned but one thing I have learned is that like a phoenix one can rise from the ashes and start again.

I had started a Drag Show Group called Drogue and even had a very professional photo shoot done with all the bells and whistles one could wish for. I must say that without the great help of Photographer Shaun Smith Make-up Artist Extraordinaire Starr Fawker, Irish (Rishana) Palo for his/her energy, Jodian van Aarde for his choreography and even my Partner Petrus for his support this would not have been made possible. We had our first show at the beginning of April and despite some glitches (including a very embarrassing underwear malfunction I only realised months later), a lot of stress and a few temper tantrums from me the show went off quite well. As long as people enjoyed themselves it was all that counted for me. Never a Dull Moment with the De Bouchet’s and their fabulous friends I would say! Unfortunately things got very busy and somewhat dramatic from here and thus for the rest of the year Drag Shows had to be put on the back burner.

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At the end of April I was invited by Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) From Wits University to help host a Citizen Journalism workshop at Kwena Lodge outside Potchefstroom. Apart from meeting and learning from new people I was blessed with the rather coincidental opportunity to show with two of the Fabulous Paper Dolls namely Tina Labelle and Harper Lockheart. I must say that that show had my fuel tank full of tequila and I danced quite well in heels with a height I would normally not wear.

In April Johannesburg Pride had been dissolved and it was up to the LGBTI Public to carry the legacy forward where two Pride groups had emerged with the new Johannesburg Pride (which would ultimately end up being called “Sandton Pride”) and the second group being the revolutionary People’s Pride which I have very much grown part and fond of.

A pivotal moment for me was when I had attended a Community workshop which was collaborated on by a number of organisations and activists. It was here that I realised what true activism was and that Joburg Pride was a Space which had to be reclaimed to become what it had been in the beginning: Political, non-Racist and non-Capitalist.

It is here where I had learnt a lot of things from my mentors about issues around Class, Race, Colonialism, the influence of our Apartheid past, Imperialism and gosh even the struggle of Palestinians in territories occupied by Israel in other words Israeli Apartheid but that’s a blog post all by itself…! These mentors of mine are activists, academics, volunteers from a staggering collaboration of LGBTIAQ and Women’s Rights organisations and a diverse spectrum of LGBTIAQ people from across our beautiful country. Inside me I had undergone a journey of transformation where I developed a much deeper sense of compassion for the poor and their struggles as well as developing a passion in wanting to fight the factors which aggravate poverty like Inequality, Racism, LGBTIAQ Discrimination, Landlesness, Skills Shortages, Gender Based Violence, Little opportunities etc etc etc.

I must say that I have faced much criticism from the community in which I was basically “Born” as a Drag Queen as I was starting to unpack some very uncomfortable issues around Classism and Racism which have possibly been ignored for years now in many circles in the LGBTI Public . I had lost some friends but gained a lot more but I ultimately realised that I do not always need validation from other people for what I believe to be right.

After months of attending meetings the Launch of People’s Pride Finally Came. A Few more meetings and a series of events were held including Panel Discussions as well as a very interactive art Exhibition held at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG). It is here where I discussed my Art Project: People’s Pride Dress which was a performance and fashion art piece which would be a collective expression of all those being part of People’s Pride. The People’s Pride Dress had it’s own set of wardrobe malfunctions but at the final Pride March after a series of “test runs” it finally worked out without having the Dress’ guts or “Derms” trailing all over the place!

My Partner Petrus and I Graced Soweto Pride with our Presence (LOL ok we went there) and this time around we didn’t miss the March although my heels were killing me after the first few kilometers. Thank God for the Mammas from the Red Cross who gave me a lift on the last stretch otherwise I would have needed a wheel chair. Soweto Pride had many more visitors than last year and I happened to meet artist Zanele Muholi for the first time apart from the dazzling array of other colour blocked and beautiful people there.

It was decided that People’s Pride would be held on Saturday 05 October which would (according to recent tradition of the first Saturday of October) be a way of reclaiming the day Joburg Pride would have been held. It was a glorious day and although the march saw about 500 people marching through the streets of Hillbrow and Braamfontein the after march event held at Constitution Hill was attended by over 5500 people and the celebration of Reclaiming Joburg’s streets went into the night. The event was a roaring success and I couldn’t have been more proud to be part of such a historic event.

Peoples Pride March 2013

People's Pride 2013 Launch

The Flag Boys from Gay Flag South Africa attended People’s Pride with a Giant Flag and involved Pride Goers and Volunteers with a very creative project. People were asked to make hand-prints on a smaller version of the Gay SA Flag as an artistic token of solidarity with People’s Pride. I even got my hands red to add my hand-print to the Flag.

2013 also saw me reaching a new milestone. For over two years I have been doing nails part-time but didn’t have the papers behind my name or on the wall. So I decided “this is it” and enrolled for a nail technology course. So  2014 will see me as a qualified nail technologist and continuing work I really enjoy doing.

December was probably one of the toughest months I had in a very long time. It all started on a Thursday Morning with my Sister phoning me saying my Dad had not pitched at the Matric (Grade 12 for International Readers) Final Exam Marking Centre. My Dad, to save money on accommodation, decided he was going camping at a Camping place close to the Marking Centre BUT he had not told any of us including my Stepmother which place it was. My Sister, my Uncle and I went on a bit of a frantic search on the internet for possible places and kept phoning around until both my Uncle and I had phoned a place Called “Country Park” where the people either put down their phones or just didn’t answer them. My Uncle who eventually managed to come through was told by someone working at the camping place that they were tending to an emergency and put the phone down. When my Uncle Phoned back he asked them not to put down but to tell him if it was my Dad, the details were correct.

A few Hours later I arrived at Wilgeheuwel Hospital in Roodepoort where my Dad was in ICU after having had a massive stroke. My Dad must’ve had a stroke during the night as he had not woken up to stop his alarm on his phone and his neighbours at the camping place called for help when there was no movement from my Dad’s Campsite.
My Dad came out of ICU and over the past few weeks he had improved but here is where the painful realisation seeped in: According to my Dad’s Doctor the stroke paralysed his whole right side from his face down to his baby toe which means he couldn’t walk and he couldn’t use his right arm or hand (his hand he writes with) but the worst was that he couldn’t speak.

The Following Morning I woke up with my Facebook on Fire with people having changed their Profile Pictures and messages of condolences streaming in that Nelson Mandela had died at nine o’clock the previous night.  This was now a double whammy of tragedy as for one it was Madiba who represented a time in my Childhood which was beautiful and now that my Dad had a stroke I was in a way mourning aspects of my Dad that might no longer be there. As Always I was hopeful but for the rest of December I had a permanent knot made of tears in my throat which just didn’t want to come out through my eyes.

Mandela Quote 1

When December could not get any worse my Sister had a nervous Breakdown and a fit of rage upon which she was taken to hospital. It would seem that my Sister had not dealt with a lot of issues in the past and it was ultimately the Stress from my Dad’s Stroke that was the last straw.
Christmas was very emotional for me as both my Sister and Father were still in Hospital. It was the first time in my life that I went to visit my Sister in Hospital when we were supposed to be having our Traditional Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve.

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Both my Sister and especially my Father are now on a journey of recovery. Luckily my Dad’s out of hospital and at home where he will need special care. Despite seeing letters from the doctor saying my Dad has suffered permanent damage I always have that glimmer of hope that he will recover somehow. We all wish that for any family member who suffers such a loss, don’t we?

What I take away from 2013:
* Change is one of the Languages of the Universe
* Now that I have actually looked back at 2013 it wasn’t such a bad year after all and despite not having done certain things I wanted to do there were other, rather unexpected things I achieved.
 *Like my Partner Petrus says: “2013 was actually a good Year but it just ended Bad.”
 *Good things don’t come easy and take a lot of work.                              
* I am not scared to re-think my opinion or even beliefs based on new things I have learnt.
* 2014 might just be another year but one more year in contributing to my vision and goals.

ALL I CAN SAY NOW IS 2014 I’M READY FOR YOU!

Happy 2014 copy

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Steve Williams: No longer Deputy

In June this Year the reigning Mr Gay South Africa, Jason Rogers, made a shock announcement that he would be stepping down due to his Work and Study Commitments. Soon after it was announced that Runner Up Mr GSA, Steve Williams, would take his place.

I had interviewed Steve when he was still a Finalist for Mr GSA and decided to do an interview with him after all of the Drama had unfolded to see how he was doing:

In life things happen for a reason. In your life do you think that only becoming Mr. GSA at a later stage had it’s own purpose or reason? What do think that purpose or reason was? What lessons have you learned from that process?

“At the end of last year I was selected for a management development programme at my company. This year I am studying through GIBS, which means attending classes, doing assignments, writing exams and supporting a charity. This is currently taking up a lot of my time. And I thought that I would not have time for any duties of Mr GSA.

But after a few months at GIBS, I realised that I have been able to manage so far. So when I became Mr GSA, I knew that I can manage and cope with all the responsibilities that came with the title. I know that I can make a success of everything I do if I put my mind to it!

So I have learned that everything in life happens for a reason and at the right time.”

At the time of the interview Steve Williams was making preparations for Mr Gay World which would be held in Antwerp, Belgium as part of a series of events including the World OUTGames, at the beginning of August 2013.

Apart from going to the gym and having a good diet what other preparations need to be made for you to be able to compete in Mr Gay World that people out there wouldn’t think of?

“We will be scored in various categories during the Mr Gay World competition. There will be a panel interview with the judges, as well as a written test – for this you need a thorough general knowledge of LGBTI and world events. Therefore I have been reading up on LGBTI history, as well as current events.

We also have to do an art project with the theme “Looking through pink glasses” – we will have a short time to finish the project in Belgium and therefore I have worked on the separate components of the art piece. I need to finish the project in Belgium and hopefully the piece will turn out the way I want it to.

The judges will also be looking for a confident person, with great leadership qualities. Hopefully I have the qualities that they are looking for!”

How Supportive has your family and Partner been in this hurricane of events?

“I could not have asked for more support from my family and partner. All of my family live in Cape Town, so I have been talking to them for morale support. Manny has been absolutely amazing! He has calmed me when I was stressed and he believes in me, which gives me confidence.”

What did Your Mom say when she found out that you became Mr GSA?

“She was very excited and so proud! When I told her that I was Mr GSA and that I will be going to Belgium, she said: “Go show them what you can do!”

A "Behind the Scenes" Look at a Photo shoot recently

A “Behind the Scenes” Look at a Photo shoot recently

I know that Steve is a very clever guy so I thought I would pick his brains with, what I thought would be, a tough question:

If someone came up to you and said that beauty contests create a specific misconception of the LGBTIAQ People and of what beauty really is. What would you say to that Person?

“I guess my initial reaction would be to laugh! If people had an idea about what a Mr GSA contestant looks like, I am probably the opposite. I am much older and I guess more muscular than most of the previous contestants. There were even some people that recently posted comments on the internet about me, amongst other things, not “having the look” of the title holder.

But is that not a good thing? We have a diverse community and we need a variety of contestants to compete for the title of Mr GSA. In that way we will be able to break down stereotypes. And that is exactly the reason I entered in the first place!

During the competition, I received the most votes from the public and I achieved the highest score in the written test in the history of the Mr GSA competition. So hopefully I have shown that anyone can enter. And hopefully I will continue to break down stereotypes through my interactions with others.”

The Previous Mr GSA Lance Weyer was very much an advocate and activist and provided quite a lot of political commentary on Social Networks and on his Blog: Begging to Differ. This commentary often landed him in hot water especially with the vicious Media but it made us as LGBTIAQ people in South Africa think about our place in the society we live in as well as the progress that still needs to be made. In Steve’s reign it would be interesting to see what he has to bring to the table as I believe he has a unique contribution to make despite his limited time.

In your work as Mr GSA where would you like to make an impact? Charity Work? Activism? Awareness? Any projects you have thought about working on?

“I would like to make a difference with everything I am involved in.

I am still involved in my charity – CANSA. I am involved in fund raising for the organisation that does a lot of good for all people of South Africa.

I am also trying my best to use social media to create awareness of and also be an activist with issues related to the LGBTI community, as well as human rights in general. I will try my best to be involved in any human rights related issue, as I don’t want society to view gay people to care only about LGBTI issues.”

Now some people might think why I haven’t further explored the issue around his age. Well, to put it simple I don’t give a Flying F**k how old he is.  There have been some members of the Queer Public, although few, who have made some really nasty comments about Steve’s age, despite not having met him or knowing him in person. I have met Steve and to me he is a fabulous and refined person. It just shows me how judgemental some people can be.  I personally think that he has a level of maturity which will give him some sort of edge at the Mr Gay World Contest.

I would just like to thank Steve for having given me the opportunity to interview him despite all the preparations he had to make for Mr Gay World and I wish him the best of luck in Antwerp! Bring that Sash Home Hunny!

What I have learned From Steve:

* That it is important to stay or become grounded in everything that you do and to be sure of who and what you are.

* That People judge someone because of his/her age but forget quite quickly the experience this person has received over time.

*  Stereotypes need to be broken down as we are all our own unique individuals, we need to have our individuality     recognised not just as Queers but as human beings.

For More on Mr Gay World and on How to Vote for Your Favorite Mr Gay World Delegate you can follow the links below:

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Queer Culture at Kwena

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Here are my “Diary” Entries for the Queer Speak Out Workshop I attended at Kwena Lodge just outside Potchefstroom on the weekends of 26-28 April and 04-05 May. This Workshop was hosted by GALA (Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action) and my friends John Marnell and Gabriel Hoosain Khan were the facilitators.

On Day 1                                                                                                 Friday, 26 April 2013
In typical Drag Queen Fashion I was horrendously late even after waking up at 5 in the morning just to do my Make-up. I still had to drive from Carletonville to go pick-up workshop participants in Ikageng Township. When finally reaching Ikageng stadium I saw a cluster of Lesbians waiting patiently for me. I think they were surprised to see a Drag Queen or Transgender Woman or whoever come pick them up as the look on their faces was a combination of shock and amusement.

On the way to Kwena Lodge, where the workshop would be held, Gabriel Khan from GALA phoned me to say his car had died. So the “Dreg Kween” came to the rescue doing a U-turn and speeding down the highway to find her friends. Luckily I had a huge tank for a bottle of water for Gabe’s car (Hunny Drag Queens always come prepared) which was busy overheating and we slowly drove to Kwena.

We opened the workshop with an intro group “game” just to introduce ourselves and to break the ice.

After Dropping everyone off at Kwena Lodge, Gabe had his car towed to a motor repair place and needed a lift to get back from Town. The tow truck guy was Afrikaans and was blushing from ear to ear when meeting Carla the Drag Queen. When we stopped at the car repair place the motor mechanics were dubiously surprised that a woman was looking under the car with a flashlight and asking them many “uncomfortable” questions to find out exactly what’s wrong. Just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I am helpless when it comes to fixing cars! LOL Girl Power!

When we came back from town the workshop was in full swing and I had to catch up with what makes a good story and the topics in the LGBTI community that are not really being written about or neglected in the Media.

One of the First Writing Exercises we did was to write a short piece of anything that would tell the reader more about ourselves on the back of a Postcard. Each person had to read somebody else’s postcard and the results were quite interesting. Some people decided to open up their lives to a very personal degree.

Lunch was Lasagne and here one of the girls made such a fuss over having her favourite food that it is here where everybody gave her the nickname “Lasagne”.

After Lunch we played a few games which made us think about Gender and sexual diversity as well as inequalities in our society. One of the most profound moments we had was when the group was asked to stand in a line and either move backwards or forwards depending on the questions that would be asked. Questions were asked like: “if you are a female, move backwards”; “if you are white take a step forward”; “if you are transgender take a step backwards”; “If you own a car step forward”; “have you ever been discriminated against”; “if you have a computer at home, move forward”. Question after Question, some people kept moving backwards and one or two kept moving forward. The end result was shocking but when thinking about it a reality. John, our facilitator, who is a white male from Australia, was right in front with Godfrey, a black male a little behind him. At the back though were gender non-conforming black Lesbians. In the middle was me, a transgender woman together with some Lesbians. My throat was in a ball of a knot and I was fighting the tears damming up behind my Mascara. Despite biologically being a white male I was still as disadvantaged as my Lesbian sisters for being transgender. A not-so-pleasant reality “klap” (slap). Gabe asked us how we felt about the arrangement and I said I was quite depressed.

We also learnt about the inverted pyramid structure which basically teaches any writer to prioritise the most important information which establishes the Who; What; When; Where; How; Why etc. then the important details and then some background information. John explained that in the old days at Newspapers articles were physically chopped with a pair of scissors to make them shorter and that is where the term “ending up on the newsroom floor” probably came from. It’s because of this that journo’s would write the most important or juiciest information first.

Day 2                                                                                                       Saturday, 27 April 2013 (Freedom Day)

I was once again dressed like a real Madam. I heard that there would be a Drag Show that night hosted by Harper Lockheart and Tina LaBelle so I was quite curious and excited the whole day in anticipation of the Drag Show, in Potch of all places! The workshop dealt with the kind of angle one could follow with an article or a story. The question was would we be writing about people, Places, The Past, Activism, Figures and statistics? We played an interesting game where we were given an “Angle Cube” by John and threw it like a dice. Each person had a turn and with a given picture slide had to explain how they would go about writing a story from a certain angle.

Workshoppers also had a chance to show off their acting skills when they had to act out 2 scenarios. The one scenario was a Young Lesbian Girl who was coming out to her mother and the other a Nurse who refused to give a lesbian an HIV test believing that Lesbians do not get HIV. I must say that the most hilarious act was that of “Nurse Rose” AKA Thabang who told the Lesbian wanting to come for an HIV test: “Go to Hell and get tested there”. At that moment we were in tears with laughter but in real life there are actually Nurses and other healthcare professionals out there who believe Lesbians do not get HIV. One of the questions I posed to the Nurse character was “How would you react if you found out that months later this lady had died?” Her Answer: “She could get tested somewhere else” Often community clinics are one of the few places LGBTI people can go to when facing such a Dilemma.

We learnt about News leads and how the First Sentence of any Article was most critical to lead a reader’s attention and interest to the rest of the Article or story.

Show time had finally arrived. We were of course some of the First People to arrive after a group of Afrikaans Moffies and their Fag Hags who we later found out to be more Drag Hags. Harper Lockheart and another Diva came tapping into the “Lapa” (Thatch Roof /House) with their sky high stiletto heels. They both looked gorgeous and it would actually be the first official time that I would see them show as a Diva Duo. Harper was very glad to see me and introduced me to Tina LaBelle, a very refined African Queen with a very articulate manner about her and a Big Personality. Although she didn’t have the big hair to go with the big personality I was already beginning to like her. The girls needed at least two extra numbers to be performed with their show and so they asked me to Perform. I offered to do two items and impromptu work is where I perform best because anything goes and although I only had the one outfit I had to make it work.

Trickle by Trickle Couples of Lesbians came dripping in and soon the place was filled to near capacity. Earlier in the day while inspecting the Lapa to see what’s inside I saw a beautiful silver pair of rather high stiletto heels encrusted with bling. After thinking that Harper had left the heels there from her last show I was informed by her that they were left there by someone who was at a lesbian wedding two weeks prior. I thought that whoever’s heels this was surely wouldn’t mind me borrowing them for the show as I was wearing my glitter pumps and my other, rather uncomfortable, black heels were lying in the Car.

The show started and both Tina and Harper belted out the Diva Ballads one by one.  Harper sang Cher’s “Woman’s World” and asked all the Ladies to come to in front of the stage to dance a bit during the song. Tina gave a Stunning Performance of Proud Mary (Rollin on the River) and it is at that Point that I knew there are few Queens who can do Tina like Tina LaBelle. Harper performed the ultimate Ballad from Celine Dion, none other than “my heart will go on” from Titanic. With all the Diva-ing the audience was quite shocked to see me as this sexy vixen who unexpectedly stood up from the audience to take a shot of tequila from the bar, strip her heavy winter coat off and render Madonna’s “Girl Gone Wild” while making Love to an unsuspecting Chair and swinging around the Lapa’s poles. I later saw my wrists were grazed. The tequila took all sorts of pain away I guess. While taking a seat a shortish lady with Glasses came up to me and asked me: “Can I please have my heels back”. She was talking about the heels I borrowed! LOL How embarrassing but I quickly pulled myself together and asked her to borrow them for just one more performance and then she would get them back. No Problem.

Day 3                                                                                                       Sunday, 28 April 2013

A certain group of people who had of course stayed behind to watch the Drag Show were badly hung-over, quiet and very sensitive to sunlight, in fact any kind of light. I wasn’t dressed up at all, just in comfort mode wrapped up in my Zebra Crossing Scarf. No Heels, No Bling, No Make-up. It was a Sunday after all. There is a chapel at Kwena lodge so a local LGBTI church group was having service. I realised that Kwena was actually a hub for many different events in Potch for the local LGBTI community. Workshops to learn, Drag Shows and “Sokkies” (Dances) to Party and Church to keep everyone on the “straight” and narrow.

We were given the opportunity to take some photos with either a camera or a camera phone just to practice our thoughts and ideas visually. Here’s one of mine:

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Lunch was Hamburgers. One of the rather eager guys, Godfrey AKA Sean was quite happy to feast on 3 Hamburgers and was seen disappearing to the Kitchen on a number of occasions to, ahem “resample” his food. It is here that I gave him the nickname “burger king”. It seems that some people in the workshop had now been given food nicknames. “Lasagne”, “Burger King”, “Muffin Queen” (Vuyo who clearly liked the Breakfast Muffins) and Burger Butch. Godfrey was in tears, laughing, when hearing about “Burger Butch”.

We had quite an intensive discussion on photos in Journalism. Images and videos are a way of expression and activism and can many times bring a message home which can be even more effective than just an article. One of the most powerful examples of activism was a campaign by the South African organisation POWA (People Opposing Woman Abuse): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW30WslahMc

Day 4                                                                                                        Saturday, 04 May 2013

A week had gone by and I actually started missing the crowd from the workshop. I bumped into Chris, one of the owners of Kwena Lodge. I found out that Chris comes from the same home Town as I.  Chris told me that he went to Wonderfontein High School and I asked him if he knew my Dad who taught maths and science there? Chris asked me if my Dad was short with Dark hair and said that my Dad was incredibly intelligent. Yep, that’s my Dad. What Chris forgot to mention though was that my Dad was and still is Sport Crazy.

At the end of the Day everyone decided to go home, no more staying for any partying. Gabriel, who calls himself an “Afrikanerphile”, wanted to get something to eat in town. We went to “Die Bult” and I tried to explain to Gabriel and John what exactly a “Bult” is. A hill of sorts, the opposite of a Dip, a raised area? I just couldn’t get a good enough explanation in English. After walking up and down we settled for “Die Akker” (The Acorn). The menus were in Afrikaans so it took some time to translate everything. If one wants a crash course in Afrikaans I guess taking someone to an Afrikaans restaurant might be a good start. The waiter was quite a hot “boerseun” (Farmer boy? LOL) and I had a feeling this guy was into Rugby but didn’t want to make it too obvious.

After Ordering Bobotie, a Cape Malay Inspired Traditional Afrikaans Dish, Gabriel and I started talking about his beard and one of my past lives as an industrial design student. John told me about how restaurants in some countries he visited were automated and how one could choose food off a touch screen and the waiters would just bring it when ready. Gosh I need to Travel. John is a vegetarian by the way and it was through him that I realised what a Carnivorous country we actually live in.  Black people just can’t understand John’s “tendency” to not like meat. To not like a nice “Chisa Nyama” (Barbeque) with that Pap and Gravy in a Country like South Africa is just unthinkable. It seems that as some sort of interesting consolation poor old John had been stuffed with lots and lots of Cheese. John told me that since a child he always had a dislike for meat and together with the knowledge of certain rather cruel farming Practices he just couldn’t have his McDonalds anymore thinking that at one point it did moo.

There was no Bobotie and the Chicken Pie that was ordered ended up a glorified sandwich with chunks of Chicken. Not the “Boerekos” (Traditional Afrikaans Food) one would expect at such a joint. Disappointing. Somehow we ended up talking about vegetarian options for “Boerekos” and how many dishes actually contained copious amounts of sugar like Sweet Quince, Sweet Carrots, Sweet Pumpkin and Pumpkin Cookies with their own Syrupy sauce drizzled over them.

We paid a visit to the “Mystic Boer” which is based in one of the oldest houses in Potch where quite a lot of Students hang out. Then there was Midknights, quite a culture shift from a predominantly Afrikaans setup to a more Afro House Setup. I liked the music here and I was even being chatted up by a guy who is originally from my home town.

Day 5                                                                                                       Sunday, 05 May 2013

As Sundays go most of us were incredibly “Babbelas” (Hung-over) and tired but we came to the workshop to lick our Partying wounds. We started the day where we had to take one of our stories that we had written and make a short Facebook and twitter ad as a way of creating interest in our articles so that people would want to read more.

When we had finished writing our “adverts” we were divided up into groups and asked to share our ads. One of the members in my group had written a piece before of the physical experiences she has as a Lesbian and gosh things got quite steamy especially when mentioning that she doesn’t like D*** but P****. While I was laughing like crazy all of a sudden Thabang and Thato jumped up threatening each other and getting physical to the point where heavy wrought iron chairs went flying. The two rowdy lesbians were taken outside to finish what they had started.

The rest of us sitting in shock had gone quiet. Almost immediately Gabe started asking us questions on what happened. Although everyone was unresponsive and rather asking each other what the hell happened we answered question upon question until the full Who; What; When; Where; How; was established. Before Thabang and Thato were brought back into the Workshop venue something told me that this was all an act and despite telling everyone else that especially Thabang is a good actress they didn’t believe me.

We were told to ask Thato and Thabang questions as to what exactly happened and despite trying to keep their act they showed hints of smiles. It was an act. This exercise had taught us that it is actually quite difficult to ask people the right questions in an interview for a news article to get the right, never mind juicy, information out of them. Considering that a good interview should have only 4 Questions, these questions need to be good ones.

It was the end of the Workshop and I took a moment to stand outside and just take everything in for one last time. I knew that I shouldn’t get too sad at the end of an event in my life as great moments turn into great memories.

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What I took away from this experience:

In the Closing Game of the Workshop we were asked what we appreciated the most about the workshop.

  • I appreciated the fact that I could learn more about other people’s experiences and backgrounds.
  • I appreciated the fact that we had a safe environment to work in.
  • I appreciated the fact that we could open up about our lives without any judgements.
  • I appreciated this platform and opportunity to be able to write about the things I like. You.

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Reclaiming Joburg Pride

Gay Barbed Fence

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This Blog was to be released earlier but I had to attend follow-up discussions to see a bigger picture and hear out different perspectives:

On 3 April 2013 Joburg Pride released the following announcement:

“The board of Joburg Gay Pride Festival Company (JGPFC) has voted to wind up the Section 21 (not-for-profit) company that has produced Joburg Pride over the past seven years. JGPFC was voluntarily wound up by unanimous resolution at a board meeting held on Wednesday, 13 March 2013. As such, the Joburg Gay Pride Festival Company will cease operation from 26 April 2013.”

Just like with the 1in9 Campaign Pride incident last year; Facebook, Twitter and other social media were set ablaze with people’s comments of sadness and just plain outrage. Soon after a “concerned Citizen” by the name of Kevin Van Zyl started a facebook page called “JHB Pride – Let’s get organised” which as the page’s description states:

“A Community based consolidated page, creating a single point of contact while a new Pride Board is elected.”

I was quite mystified as to who the other individuals were who were behind this and it soon emerged that the socialite Monique Walker was one of them. Quite hefty debates happened on the above page where I tried to explain that one cannot just look at the organising aspect of Pride but also the message it conveys and how inclusive Pride really will be at the end of the day.

A community meeting was organised by the people who had launched the above page and was held in Melville, Joburg on the 6th of April which was apparently interrupted by participants who were later found to be 1in9 and Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) members. Their argument was that this meeting had to be postponed and held only after the workshop they were hosting the following weekend so that people could discuss issues and challenges properly before even considering appointing a Pride Board. People were already being asked here by “Let’s get Organised” whether they would volunteer to be on the next Pride Board and it is here where activists (not-so) eloquently put on the brakes!

Thank goodness it took too long for me to do my make-up that Sunday otherwise I would’ve wasted my Petrol Driving all the way from Carletonville to Joburg only to find out that the meeting was disbanded. So instead I went in full regalia to KFC and made a Church lady so Jealous as she gave me such a dirty look. Hunny It wasn’t my plan to outshine anybody, I only wanted to get a Choc Avalanche and a Family Pack and get the hell out of there!

On 13 April my Partner Petrus and I attended the much talked about community meeting slash workshop hosted by what seemed to be various activists, the 1in9 Campaign, Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) and the Coalition for African Lesbians. Everyone was welcome and people from different backgrounds, Races, Genders, Orientations came together to talk about what they felt about Joburg Pride. Ground-breaking Stuff.

The workshop started at 11 am but participants first had their go at some struggle songs, some against Zuma. Let’s not forget that 1in9 were the people who had been protesting at Jacob Zuma’s Rape Trial back in the day and knowing this, one can understand why these feminists can get quite vicious if  addressed in a Patriarchal way. Think 10 Ladies protesting rape at a trial where there were thousands of Zuma Supporters!

My man and I went to look for a seat and decided to go sit second row from the front. Felt like I was going to church where the so-called “biggest believers” were sitting in the front and the ones still suffering from ‘Babbalas’ (Hangover) at the back. Quite interesting to note that the biggest skeptics of supporting Joburg Pride (failing quite bismally trying to hide this) were in fact sitting in their factions at the back. There was no shame when a member of 1in9 or FEW was introduced with happy-Clappy fanfare and Struggle Song.

The meeting started with a video of the Late Activist Simon Nkoli as well as another lesbian Activist stating the collective will of the SA LGBTI  community at the time of the very First Joburg Pride. A very slim woman with funky half shaven haircut came to sit right in front of me, a little voice inside told me: ‘that’s Carrie Shelver.’ Carrie Shelver is an activist who herself has served on the Joburg Pride Board in the Past and who has become quite an avid supporter of the 1in9 Campaign. The emotion on Carrie’s face of sheer bliss was what I was beginning to feel when watching this Vid. The Activist Bev Ditse could not make the meeting due to work commitments but had made a video interview to explain her viewpoint on the whole Pride debacle.

We were divided up into groups and asked to firstly discuss:

Problems (let’s be PC) or challenges we found with Joburg Pride

* First and Foremost, the Pride Parade needs to be specifically referred to as a March. The very first Joburg Pride that was held was originally a Protest March on Queer Rights and issues. Although everybody did agree that we shouldn’t neglect a celebration, this celebration should not overpower opportunities and platforms for true activism.

Much debate went around whether the March should be a Pure protest March with people holding banners, placards and singing struggle songs and whether we should include floats and costumes as well. It was also noted that white-centred businesses and organisations had overpowered the floats when it came to the March but I personally think this can be due to income inequalities where businesses and organisations whose target market is people of colour do not have the funds to pay for such extravagant floats. What few people realise is it costs a lot of money just to hire the truck that moves a large float not to mention even more money to decorate a decent float.

* Joburg Pride just like many other events has been a representation of some of the inequalities we face in South Africa. Income, Gender, Race, Inequalities that need to be both addressed and accommodated. Comment was given whereby in south Africa there is heavily being focussed on celebration, we celebrate different Public Holidays but are these days truly used to address issues of inequalities in our country?

Gay Barbed Fence Red to Yellow

When looking at the fun aspect of Pride things seemed to be racialised and divided on the lines of Class:

* Entertainment on the Stage is not diversified enough. DJ’s, Performing Acts, Celebrities etc are “white” orientated and catered little for other Race groups. In my viewpoint a Pride Board that was mostly white had a frame of reference which was well, mostly white so it is no wonder that who appeared on the stage with Pride Day was mostly catering for the white crowd.

*There has been too much focus on entertainment and too little on education not just on the Stage but with most of the official events leading up to the Pride Day.

*Booze was too expensive! Many people who came to Pride just couldn’t afford the prices of Booze. I have to admit there have been a Pride or Two where I have smuggled booze in my Car boot (especially as a student) and snuck out to my “mobile bar” for a swig or two of something that could make me a little more intoxicated than overpriced water. Talking about water: many people ( once again including myself) developed the strategy of taking Squeedgy Bottles laced with clear alcohol into the Pride venue. The Pride Board probably got wind of this notion and soon people were not allowed to take water into the Pride festival venue at all and any water bottles were confiscated at the gate by security. So now people were forced to buy something as basic as water!

* The fence surrounding the Pride Festival Venue separates the Have’s from the Have nots. Many people especially Africans are forced to enjoy the Pride festivities outside the Pride venue as they cannot afford all the niceties on the inside. Outside in the Zoo Lake Picnic area they are faced with limited and not so clean ablution facilities and areas which are not as safe.

One of the Arguments with the separation of the have’s with the have-nots was that it was as a result of class inequalities as well as racism by both certain Pride Goers and organisers alike. Let’s face it many of my African Friends have complained to me how uncomfortable they were made to feel in certain clubs in Joburg and it seems that this sentiment has been echoed at the Pride Festival venue itself.

* Pink Money had not really been discussed. It serves to mention though that despite having pink coins left after Pride it was much safer to carry plastic tokens around than cash. The downside has been that queues were long just to purchase the tokens. Many people do not understand the issue with Pink money as Music Festivals and large events across the world use a similar system.

Location, Location, Location

* Rosebank is not Central enough. For years people have been complaining that to get to Pride they have to take 2-3 Taxis as they do not have their own transport. In a country like South Africa not everybody has their own car as it is quite expensive to buy and maintain one. Many people including myself take this (let’s call it what it is) privilege for granted and do not realise that others have to use a very unreliable public transport system.

* Rosebank is not Joburg. Although Rosebank tries to embody the culture of Joburg it mostly caters for the elite.

* The Pride March route is an important decision and needs to be a political and activism one as well as going back to historic Roots. Activists have approached the Pride Board before making the suggestion that Pride be moved to Soweto as it is still one of the places where the struggle against the oppression of LGBTI people is an ongoing battle. The Pride Board simply replied in the past that the townships are not a safe place to host a Pride event of such a scale. It is most likely one of the reasons why activists  and Organisations decided to start Soweto Pride anyway.

*Another issue was with Visibility. How much attention did Joburg Pride really get in a Place like Rosebank where most of the “Parade” route was lined with high suburban walls? Not much if you think about it. Pride is a way of showing the world that the Queer community cannot be silenced and have their place in society as well. The more exposure Pride gets the more exposure the Queer Community together with it’s issues gets.

The Joburg Pride Board

Another big question: how can seven people organise an event of such a magnitude and not get something wrong somewhere?  When I had written about Joburg Pride before I had said that the Pride board was responsible for making many what are actually critical decisions: Who gets a Stall; Who gets to have their float in the Parade, ahem, March; Which DJ’s play music; what music gets played etc etc. In my opinion the Joburg Pride Board had been focusing way too much on the Commercial and Party/Celebration aspect of Pride and very often neglected the activism side of things. Year on year the board, without much public input mind you, selected a theme which had a bit of a message to it but it ended more like a dress up theme than a proper campaign which could raise proper awareness on a issue like gender based violence, Rape, Discrimination, etc.

Sponsors

A term I heard before but did not get so friendly with was “Pink-Washing”. Basically it’s when a Corporate Sponsor Shows support of an LGBTI cause or event but behind the scenes may either be exploiting or oppressing LGBTI people. When a Corporate Sponsor gives money to an organisation it often wants something in return like advertising or Marketing Potential. Together with that comes a whole lot of other Wishes and requests which combined with those of other Sponsors seem to start to fiddle with what Pride should be. So instead of having a Pride that is according to what the people want you end up with a Pride that is what the Sponsors Want: Commercial. It’s like good music, has it’s own uniqueness but when it goes commercial it all goes down the drain. Could it not be possible to find other ways of Sponsoring an event like Pride?

Gay Barbed Fence Green To Purple

Visions for Pride and Possible Avenues going forward:

* The worst case scenario would be that Joburg Pride remains cancelled and that other Prides like Soweto pride be strengthened and supported better. Many people including myself would not want to see this happen BUT there is a concern amongst many activists and individuals that if we do not take the time and properly interrogate the issues that have been making people unhappy that the organising Process as well as Pride itself will fall back into the old way of doing things like the old Pride Board did.

* It has been suggested that Joburg Pride be moved back to the Johannesburg CBD to the historic Route it followed back in the 90’s. Last year I had strongly contested this as there was an issue of safety for me. Now here is an interesting spin on the matter of Location. If Joburg Pride were to be held in the city Centre there could not be a more visible place to give Pride the best exposure both to the general public and to the media. Where do most of the big civil rights entities like the ANC Women’s League and the Coalition of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) make the boldest statements? Right in the heart of the city.

Secondly activism is not always about comfort Zones. When one addresses issues on race, gender, income and sexuality adequately you are often not in a comfort zone. Sure many people have noted in the past where objects had been thrown from high-rise buildings injuring pride goers but what had that meant? That the Queer community had made other people think, made them properly aware that as a community we are defiant. Defiance was what Simon Nkoli and his fellow Queers were showing with the very First Pride. Defiance against Homophobia and inequality.

* Joburg Pride could possibly rotate on a yearly basis to a different venue or ultimately that joburg pride becomes a bigger umbrella event where different Prides are held simultaneously or as part of the run up to the main Pride in Joburg.

* The fence surrounding the Joburg Pride venue needed to be removed but at the same time a fence would still be needed to protect everyone. So obviously a bigger fence would be needed, Duh. What I think is that the Joburg Pride event had become too big for even the Zoo lake venue to handle and that this issue had to be addressed long ago.

* Why could Joburg Pride not be a week long event with the Big March culminating on the Saturday? Many events could be held which would include educational events like Public debates, Seminars etc. running together with fun events like Parties and get-togethers.

*The Joburg Pride event needs to launch an all inclusive campaign where everybody whether, sponsors, Pride Goers, Activists, Government, Local Businesses and organisations can take part in. With the March even people need to do something in unison which is highly creative to make a collective bold statement on the theme or a specific issue which needs to be addressed. I made quite an interesting example while debating this same issue on Facebook:  Last year, hundreds of Pink Umbrellas were sold to the public and the only functions it seems they served were to obviously protect the Crowd from the elements and to make pretty Photos. What if for instance the umbrellas had a special message attached to them which elaborated on issues like Rape, income inequality, Abuse and exploitation of Queer People? What if people were asked to give these umbrellas away to especially “straight” people? Would that not have served as a creative means of activism?

* Instead of Glossing over our differences or trying to romanticise inequalities with a more “Friendlier” term like “Diversity” we should all actively engage in and debate over our differences. Pride is a melting pot where many different people come together and such an opportunity to possibly be able to learn something from other people who are different to ourselves cannot be wasted. By exploring our differences we learn and grow more and in the end be able to understand each other better.

It would be quite easy for some to criticise FEW or 1in9 for trying to hi-jack Joburg Pride or saying that they would rather see Pride remain disbanded and have all resources, support and of course visitors to JHB Pride redirected to Soweto, Kwa-Thema or other Prides. Let’s face it, Soweto Pride even last year was not as well attended as any activist or organiser would’ve wished. If one were to look at the 20000 visitors to JHb pride Last year then it would seem ‘natural’ for Soweto or other Pride organisers to want a hefty slice of that Joburg pride Visitors Cake. There is however a difference here: FEW and 1in9 had started a long overdue conversation on the things that bother people about Pride, where things can improve and where not just Pride but the Queer Community as a whole could Grow. The Previous Pride Board had ignored such discussions and look what has happened.

Middle Ground

As one of the Activists had put it at the Workshop:

* If there are people who don’t want to have pride this year, then let them be.

*  If there are people who want to carry on organising Pride even though there is not much time left, let them.

* If there are people who want to sort out the issues that have been affecting Pride for Years and only have Pride next year, then let them be.

What I take away from this:

* Joburg Pride is more than a Parade, Celebration or Party, it is supposed to also be a platform for everyone to raise awareness on serious issues which cannot be ignored but which need to be addressed.

* Organising Joburg Pride is a matter of balance.  I cannot focus on certain aspects of Pride and ignore others because I am in my own comfort zone.

* There is nothing wrong with celebrating my Queer identity but I need to be mindful of my Brothers and Sisters who are not as fortunate as I am.

* Pride, as well as the Queer Community need to grow and with growth comes change. Change is not always comfortable but there is the saying: “if you aren’t hurting, you aren’t growing” it’s a tough process but when that growing is done with we can always have a party to celebrate real achievements.

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Dramatic Poses with Photographer Shaun Smith

Shaun Smith StudioSki Photography

AfriHost728x90After having the photo shoot for GLIBIT’s show group DroGue I wanted to know more about our Photographer Shaun Smith who I met through Starr Fawker.

Shaun is actually a sweety and has some great creative ideas of his own which he didn’t mind sharing with us which made our shoot even more of a success!

I caught up with Shaun and asked him what it takes to be a Great Photographer:

For how long have you been a Photographer?

“More than 13 years.”

What is the most challenging or interesting subject matter you have had to photograph?

“I have done many different and challenging shoots but one that stands out is an accident scene I had to cover when I was still starting out as a freelance newspaper photographer. On my way back from an accident scene in the former Transkei, a huge rock hit my petrol tank and I almost ran out of fuel at night in the middle of no-where.”

I see that you have shot a lot of famous celebrities and influential people, could you name me a few?

“I don’t keep record of celebs and political leaders that I’ve shot but the ones that come to mind is: Nelson Mandela, Ryk Neethling, Natalie du Toit, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, Sonja Haroldt, Hannon Bothma, Iman, David Tlale, Kelly Khumalo, Sello Maake Ka-Ncube, Pabi Moloi, Sophie Ndaba, Debora Patta, Ian von Memerty, Mark Boucher, etc.”

To be quite honest when one goes and looks at Shaun’s Portfolio, the list of glitterati he has photographed is actually Staggering!

Here is a selection of only some of the fantastic work he does:

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Shaun does quite a Diverse range of  Photography work, from Fashion, Editorial for Articles, Magazine Covers, Model Portfolios, Family Portraits, Weddings, Baby and Toddler, Food, Commercial and Corporate, Arty Farty, YOU NAME IT!

How would you react if a Celebrity is like such a Diva and is giving you a hard time during a shoot?

“Touch wood, I’ve never had problems in the past. I handle them with care. Diva-like-celebs want all the attention and everything needs to be about them, so I bite the bullet, make them feel as comfortable as possible and shoot to finish.”

What advice would you give to someone who would just like to do a photo shoot for fun?

“Visit my website [www.studioski.co.za], see if you like my work, make a booking, bring extra wardrobe (if you want) and let’s shoot.”

Briefly, What kind of Preparation usually needs to go into a professional shoot?

“99,9% of the time I’m prepared. Batteries need to be fully charged and memory cards need to be clean. My equipment usually travels with me. If the studio or location, make-up artist and stylists have been arranged and I’ve been briefed, we’re ready to go!”

Shaun, you seem to be very well-connected in the Magazine and Fashion industry, what advice can you give an aspiring photographer in building up a good name?

“You must be a nice person to work with, think out of the box, build a great portfolio and your work must improve every time you shoot.”

Just for Curiosity, Has anybody ever asked you to slip in some “naughty” Pics of themselves with their Shoot? What did you do?

“Yes. If the client pays for the shoot, I have no problem what happens in front of camera, as long as they don’t involve me and keep it professional.”

If I was a photographer I don’t know how I would react if I had to do a nude shoot with a client. Probably with a lot of Booze, Vodka, Yes, LOTS of Vodka!

It was such a pleasure working with Shaun and I can’t wait for the work I’ll be doing with him in Future . A glamour Portfolio should definitely be in the pipeline somewhere!

Here is DroGue’s Class of 2013 Photo:

DroGue Class of 2013 and Beyond! Back: Irish Palo, AKA Rishana, Jodian Van Aarde Middle: Drikus Knoetze, Harper Lockheart, Carla De Bouchet, Petrus Beets Front (Sitting): Starr Fawker, Shaun Smith

DroGue Class of 2013 and Beyond!
Back: Irish Palo, AKA Rishana, Jodian Van Aarde
Middle: Drikus Knoetze, Harper Lockheart, Carla De Bouchet, Petrus Beets
Front (Sitting): Starr Fawker, Shaun Smith

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Behind the Scenes of GLIBIT Show Group: Smoke, Drag and Action!

All Photos and Pic Collage compliments of Jodian Van Aarde

On 10 February, GLIBIT the Advocacy and Awareness Network held it’s first photo shoot for a show group it will be launching soon.

Among the participants were Harper Lockheart and her Dancer friend Drikus Knoetze both from the Paper Dolls, Starr Fawker, myself, Jodian Van Aarde , my Partner Petrus, my new PA Moira Grant as well as my good friend Irish. Our Photographer was Shaun Smith owner of Studióski but you will get to hear more about this guy in my next blog.

Irish

Irish is one of my good friends from my Home Town of Carletonville who recently moved to Joburg. Irish is quite the socialite. We needed a ‘Beyonce’ for our show group who can bring in some African sexiness into the mix so that’s why Irish was asked to be both a male dancer and a Queen for the Group. The only problem was that we had to now find a Drag name for Irish. After much brainstorming the answer was actually quite simple. Irish loves Rihanna, no hold on, Idolises Rihanna. He is in fact  like an admiral in Rihanna’s navy. So I thought, if Irish and Rihanna had to have a Baby, what would the baby’s name be? Rishana. Okay, okay not as original but Rishana likes it.

Rishana

And here we see the Birth of a Drag Diva! (Although she was one long before she put the dress on) Irish might kill me for this one but he loves his friend too much! LOL

Harper Lockheart

Harper hails from the famous Paper Dolls Show group whose main show residence is at Amuse Cafe in Linden, Johannesburg.

Harper may look like a shy girl however she is everything but. She says that when she started out with Drag she was almost like the “Sharon Needles” of the South African Drag scene with her very dominatrix look. In corporate attire with a pencil skirt Harper looks like a naughty school teacher who won’t just stick to rulers but may discipline any naughty boys with a whip! Her Favourite song artists are Celine and Cher although she may have a stint with GaGa

Drikus Knoetze

Drikus is a final year BA Communication and Psychology Student at North West University in Potchefstroom. I finally had the privilege to meet him, a tall quiet kind of guy but who Harper told me has the heart and determination to give it his all during the show. Even when the whip gets cracked during rehearsals he doesn’t mind practicing until it gets done perfectly 10 times over. Something we as a show group need of course.

Starr Fawker

Starr is recently famous for taking on a well-known Drag Queen in the “Sondag” newspaper for this Queen’s abuse and judgement of other Drag Queens in the LGBTI community. Starr was our Make-up Artist for the Shoot and did a fantastic job transforming us into people who look like they come straight from Hollywood.

Jodian

Jodian Van Aarde is as coloured as they can get. He is one of the Choreographers of the Show group who brings his Voguing, Funky Dance routines as well as his hilarious personality. Jodian was one of the top 5 finalists for Mr. Gay South Africa 2012/2013.  Jodian is  actually very serious about his dancimg so this group has given him the opportunity to do what he really loves.

photo (1)

En kyk die meisie nou! Spy those Calves! From the Start Jodian wanted to perform his dance routines in heels. A new challenge he found is murder on the feet ! LOL

photo (11)

The Look on Jodian’s Face says: why can’t I wear these GaGa Heels? 😉

Petrus

My loving partner for more than 2 years now asked to be in the show group as he wanted to help out where he could even if we would use him as a tree or a prop on stage, just kidding! Although Petrus was a bit stressed on the day he did some amazing poses under the guidance of Jodian.

Moira

I recently decided to get myself a Personal Assistant to help me with all of the aspects of the De Bouchet Empire and to get creative entrepeneurial projects off the ground. I recognised Moira as someone who was in need of a job and who is a hard working individual. Harper had thought that Moira was a family member or someone’s Mom who was willing and kind-hearted enough to give a hand but found out that Moira was actually getting paid for everytime I needed a safety pin, my curls sprayed with Hairspray or my accessories handed to me at lightning speed.

Comfort Zones

I think that we all were taken out of our Comfort Zones for a day.  From Queens wearing completely different make-up to what they have ever done before to guys shaving their legs to exposing their bodies just a little bit more than what they would in public!

One of the biggest challenges for me was having my eyebrows shaved. I did not have chance to have my brows properly sculpted before the shoot as I was incredibly busy both at work and sorting everybody else out for the shoot so Starr shaved them to be much (much)shorter. After trying a small clipper she had to, as she said, use something more ‘industrial’! LOL Although I have to now paint my eyebrows in for the next two weeks my Make-up looked super stunning.

Our Day Started at 09:00 with Make-up for all the Queens and then the Guys had theirs done at the studio.

Everybody got to bond a little and get to know each other a little better. Jodian’s place was changed into a Make-up Studio, Chill Lounge and gigantic walk in closet with all the myriad of shoes and different outfits that were tried on to get the final look for everyone.

Tannie Carla en haar Curlers!

While everybody’s make-up was getting done we had some time to sit and chat, and of course do nails, Yes I was wearing Curlers Dolls! All that was missing was the gown and slippers LOL

The Shoot itself was at Sundowner Studio in Wendywood Sandton where a lot of major Magazines also do their shoots. A very larney studio with all the facilities one would need. A very tall infinity curve backdrop is the highlight of the venue which gives the feel that it can extract quite intriguing results with photos. The shoot went quite fast with everyone striking their poses and delivering gorgeous photos. Everyone was shot individually and would be put together at a later stage. My poses were okay but I realised they missed a sense of typical Drag Queen Drama. Rishana who was first up to get shot, was an absolute natural and flowed so well with her poses. after finishing my shot sets she came and suggested some interesting poses and there and then she became the coach for posing. She had after all practiced the night before in front of the mirror! For the shoot I instantly renamed Rishana to our ‘Bonang’ as she really knew how to work it. Girl. Snap.

One of the most striking sets of photo’s Harper did was with her (in typical Paper Doll Fashion) Silver Full length evening gown in which she made some intriguing poses which developed a sense of mystery for us all.

Starr who had done everybody’s make-up was up last and we went overtime so that she could do her shots properly. Starr is an absolute perfectionist. Everything with her Drag is done very precisely with almost military accuracy. After doing quite a lot of shots Starr was only happy with one. Talk about Perfectionist!  That’s what I love about Starr, she is always trying something new, always finding ways of becoming more ‘polished’ as a Drag Queen. I learnt a lot from her as a Queen. May I add that she has a gorgeous smile! I forced Starr, in fact everyone, to smile during the shoot as we are in show business after all! Like Charlie Chaplin said in his song: “Smile thought your heart is aching”.

The Very Professional Starr Fawker who is quite a natural with her poses! Fierce Girlfriend! This photo is just to give a closer look of what was part of the photo shoot setup. Spy Petrus who was holding a Mirror up for Starr to see if her poses were Perrrrfect!

The Very Professional Starr Fawker who is quite a natural with her poses! Fierce Girlfriend! This photo is just to give a closer look of what was part of the photo shoot setup. Spy Petrus who was holding a Mirror up for Starr to see if her poses were Perrrrfect!

Time to Wrap UP

After a long day of Make-up sessions, skinner (gossip), Chilling, Posing, Laughing and the occasional wardrobe malfunctions or boobie alerts we wrapped up the day with our group photo which has been eloquently dubbed our “Class of 2013”. I was so grateful for everyone who came to the shoot and who helped out. Everyone had their role to play and did so with dedication. Although we may need some more time to bond I feel that our show group is busy developing into a family and family is what counts in whatever form one may find it.

We went to Melon Restaurant in Melville for some after shoot drinks, discussing all the happenings of the day and to meet up with the owner together with the manager Charl van Den Berg, Mr Gay South Africa 2009 and Mr Gay World 2010. I will be looking forward to doing a show with my new family at Melon. We really have something new and fresh to bring to the table.

What I took away from the shoot:

* That Make-up is an essential tool for a Drag Queen, cannot be neglected and needs to be practiced.

* You can never know enough about Drag, you always learn something new no matter how good you are.

* Yes I can do my own brows as I do know what I want after all.

* We all find our ‘family’ in the most interesting ways.

A Big Thank You To my Team for the fantastic Day we had!

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The Best and Worst of 2012 and My Date With My Diary

I’m back!

I Had quite a lovely holiday. Darlings I took a break from everything, even my blog is late because I needed some well deserved rest!

But here I am ready to take 2013 on!

2012 had been a very eventful year briefly, I would just like to mention some of the worst and best moments in the international and South African LGBTI community.:

Worst moments

(In no particular order)

The tragic Passing of Drag and Dance Sensation FoxyLopez Brown

FoxyLopez Brown

At the beginning of 2012 Pope Benedict XVI said that Gay marriage was one of several threats to the traditional family that undermined “the future of humanity itself”.
In his traditional Christmas speech he denounced Gay marriage which he said is destroying the very ‘essence of the human creature’.

Pope Benedict XVI

Utterances by Chief Patekile Holomisa and his attempt via the constitution review committee to have protections of sexual orientation in section 9 of the SA Constitution scrapped. This resulted in mass protests and uproar in the LGBTI community across South Africa where many Organisations and groups united under one cause to make their disgust against such blatant homophobia known.

Patekile Holomisa
Rapes and Killings of especially Lesbian members of the SA LGBTI community.

Cruising Gay men who ended up murdered which was at first thought to be the work of a Serial Killer but has been linked to homophobic Gangs.

Imprisonment of Punk Band Pussy Riot

USA, Georgia-based fried chicken chain Chick-fil-A donated more than $5 million to anti-gay groups. Company president Dan Cathy said he opposes marriage equality and operates his fast-food chain according to “biblical principles.”
Chick fil a Chow Down
A Drag group made a music video “endorsing” Chick-Fil-A but it ended up being anything but an endorsement!

Check out the video below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO-msplukrw

Best Moments
(Once again, In no particular order)

Legalising of Marijuana and same-sex marriage in 2 US states

The Gay Flag of SA being the first in the world to be recognised as a National Symbol.

Gay Flag of South Africa

Mr. Gay World being held in South Africa as well as Africa for the First Time

New Developments in combatting the HIV virus

Madonna Speaking out against Homophobia in Russia

Lady GaGa coming to South Africa for the First time giving stellar Performances with the Born This Way Ball Tour in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. Her Dancers, of Course, oh so Gay!

Lady GaGa

The Gay Flag of SA Tour throughout South Africa creating more awareness about LGBTI issues.

Then there were the “Dubious” moments:

Disruption of Joburg Pride
By a small group of LGBTI activists

The 1in9 Campaign Demonstration at Joburg Pride

Mayan Calendar 2013

Hey, it was (almost) the end of the world! There were even light forecasts of Brimstone and fire but just like the weather forecast goes it’s not always accurate.  Many News stories, Books, DVD’s later, which many people bought and only some people made lots of money from, December 21 came and went and yes we still had debts to pay and some may have had to deal with unwanted pregnancies!

My Date with my Diary
For the Past few years I have been buying a Diary for my Man and I so that we can plan our lives properly. As my partner has said countless times I have an obsession with planning.

I plan every trip we do together, every event we attend, every outfit I’m going to make. Some things get planned for months and every end of month budget gets planned a month in advance! LOL

Here are some of the best and worst moments by a few people as well as what they are planning for 2013:

Coenie Kukkuk

Coenie Kukkuk
“There have been so many great moments in 2012 – April being the busiest month of my life when we organised both Mr. Gay World 2012 and Pink Loerie three weeks apart – I am still not sure how we managed, but we did. Personally, receiving the Eric Butter Philanthropy Award was a personal highlight, as well as South Africa’s Lance Weyer being the first runner-up (I still think he should have won! 🙂 ). Mr. GSA 2012 was also very special – we had an exceptional group of finalists.

Worst moment? Well, I don’t like to dwell on those – but most stressful was when the MCs were waiting for the scores of Mr. GSA and we realised that the top two was so close that we had to recheck all the scores.

Not easy if each finalist was marked out of 4000 marks and we only had about 5 minutes! But we did and the scores were confirmed and Jason prevailed.  Looking back, 2012 was by far the busiest year of my life, both at the firm and with the community work.

As you probably know, I am leaving Mr. GSA to concentrate on my work, but I am still staying on for this year at Pink Loerie and Mr. Gay World (as Director Africa & Middle East). But it will also be my last year with these two, my firm and unfortunately my health demand my full time attention. I want to be free of other commitments at the end of the year.  My main goal now is to help make Pink Loerie 2013 the best ever, and in August for South Africa to do well at Mr. Gay World again – very well actually! 🙂 ”

Laura Viljoen

Laura Viljoen
“Worst – my husband’s traumatic amputation, my Best moment was the pride I felt in my son when I watched his year end concert & received his awesome report!!”

Something worth mentioning here:
My partner and I went to visit Laura and her Husband during the festive Season and she gave us some very true advice. Laura said that as individuals we work so hard throughout the year forgetting to reward ourselves for all our effort. Instead of buying extravagant gifts for others, why not take the time and money to spoil ourselves? So that’s what my man and I did. We shopped some things, that had been on our wishlist for ages, to reward ourselves and you know what? It felt GOOD!

Marco Potgieter

Marco Potgieter
“My worst moment in 2012 was when I was arrested for possession of narcotics and I spent 31 hours in jail. My best moment in 2012 was also when I got arrested because it helped me kick my drag habit that I have been stuck in for 6years and I am proud to say I have been clean and sober for over 180 days!  This was truly a life changing year for me and I wouldn’t change the experience for the world.”

Jason Rogers

Jason Rogers – Mr Gay South Africa
“Wow how do I choose, 2012 has been so full of both. The worst I suppose would be the first 3 months I guess. I had some intense studying to do after 2011 and had to fight the fatigue – to be ready for the Medical Technologists board exam, which I guess leads into one of my best moments: I passed my exam and became fully qualified after years of studying. Other great achievements would be moving out into my very own place, passed the first postgraduate qualification at the university, and winning Mr Gay South Africa 2012/2013 – but specifically the moment where my mom shed a tear as they announced me the winner.
2012 was a hectic year, a year I learned to find myself again, found love and was the year that hard work paid off.

My aim is to always remember the reasons for entering Mr Gay South Africa, to remind people to be proud of who they are, to be open not only about my sexuality but who I am. To show people no matter what age, that it is ok to be who you are, gay or straight, to encourage people to be who they are and to fight for equality. South Africa is privileged enough to have equality in our constitution but there is still so much to fight for. One of my main aims is for people struggling with their sexuality to have easier access to unbiased information and support during their journey but also for their families. I will be in attendance at the Pink Loerie at the beginning of May, Joburg Pride and of course Mr. GSA 2013. I have also been invited to attend some charity functions and am looking forward to those.

Also looking forward to my preparations for Mr Gay World in all my efforts to do my best to make South Africa proud 😉 ”

Lee Van Oostrum

Lee Van Oostrum
“I think the worst moment for me in 2012 was when I lost my cousin in a very bad accident. She was the same age as me and we were very close. She still had her whole life ahead of her and I think no parent should carry the sorrow of laying their child in the ground.

I had a few awesome moments in 2012 but I have limited space so I met new friends, reunited with old friends, I moved to JHB and picked up on my life this side. I started several new projects that will carry on in 2013. I just enjoy life, you only get one chance!

2013 is going to be a big year. I just bought a new business and I can’t wait to start working for myself. I am part of an awesome organisation called GLIBIT and I expect great things to happen in 2013 – watch this space – I am in the process of starting a new exclusive men’s fashion store that will be featuring high end fashion brought direct to your door (I’m very excited about this) It will give the opportunity for new and upcoming designers to get a foot in the fashion and retail world… I can’t give it all away now but it’s going to be huge!”

Irish Palo

Irish Keabetswe Palo
“My best moments were being on 3Talk as a guest and all the positive things that the Sand reader told me (Irish had his “fortune” told by a psychic sand reader) that I’m gonna grow financially and that I’m gonna have a great year actually happened 😀 plus my promotion at work.

My Worst, in November I was suppose to move to Bryanston and the rent was cheap and I moved in there and it turned out to be a scam and got evicted the same night, very traumatic and I was devastated and that’s how I landed in Newtown.”

What was Carla’s Worst and Best for 2012 and what am I planning?

My worst
When my Blackberry fell in my Coffee and I had to battle for months to get my phone sorted which made me quite a good friend of HelloPeter.com and maybe public enemy number one for a certain cellphone network! LOL

My Best
There are 3:
Finally getting to drive my car, LoLa (I usually give my cars Drag Queen Names) which had been in a car accident after spending so much time and money just getting the damn car fixed.
The other 2 would definitely be going to the Mr. Gay World contest and seeing Lady GaGa Live in concert making it one of the most unforgettable moments of my Life.

Plans?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   To firstly do Drag Shows to Raise funds for GLIBIT, the LGBTI organisation I work for and to go back and start studying things I enjoy doing like Beauty and Make-up! Also getting involved where possible in the South African and International community and of course to keep on writing on this blog. This Blog has actually meant a lot to me as I could express my thoughts and my writing talent like never before!

What do I take from this?
* That it’s never too late to start something new.
* I have a unique path to follow so I can’t compare my development with others.
* When facing a challenge things will eventually come right.
* My thoughts, Actions and even words are very powerful and they can manifest whether positive or negative.

To all my readers may you be blessed for this year and experience Love, Joy and abundance in all that is positive!

Much Love
Carla

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Mr. Gay South Africa™ 2012/13 Grand Finale

Mr Gay South Africa

globeflight

Official Mr. GSA Photography by Ryan Lourens.  Written by Wim Vorster. Producer:  Kosie Smit. Choreography by Gerrit Prinsloo

The Mr. Gay South Africa™ 2012/13 Grand Finale was held at the very Larney Atterbury Theatre, Lynnwood Bridge, Pretoria on Saturday 08 December 2012.

I felt like I was in Sandton.

Hosted by the hilarious and very talented Terence Bridgett and Cathy Specific this duo sure made the evening really entertaining with Terence being one heck of a mischievous character on stage.

Cathy

Terence Bridgett

As always the Mr. Gay South Africa™ evening opened with a bang! Strong shirtless finalists dressed and styled by Bone Wear and Jawy hair design danced  and modelled as Cathy Specific Sang (not lip Sync’d)  her way through an extravagant performance in a skin tight number with some diamond jewels literally covering…ahem…the “other” jewels?

Vogue Cathy SpecificMrGSA.GF.2012.Opening1jawy

Here is a Vid of the opening sequence:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Awdb559YbV0

The singer and Songwriter Freddy Van’Dango, a previous contestant from Idols also performed with his rather unique style.

Freddie Van'Dango

The Finalists were all introduced wearing Wonderguy Clubwear.

Mr GSA Wonderguy

wonderguy

So for the last time the finalists:

From Stellenbosch in the Western
Cape is Dijan Botha, aged 21, he supports Animal Welfare Stellenbosch.

From Nelspruit, Mpumalanga,
supporting the Belfast Children’s Home, is 22 year old Brian Clough.

From Welkom in the Free State with his chosen charity Claws, is twin brother Rodney Clough.

A 19 year old supporting the Highway Hospice Association, Aaron Blandin de Chalain from Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.

25 year old Martiens de Jager
From Somerset West in the Western Cape, for the Triangle Project.

From Cape Town, in the Western Cape, supporting Pride Shelter Trust, 23 year old Brandley Gallant.

From Johannesburg, Gauteng, 24 year old Tumelo Makgaora giving his support to Soweto Home for the Aged.

Another twin From Pretoria with his chosen charity Amadea Safe House for Kids, 28 year old Hendrik Kruger.

All the way from Gugulethu in the Western Cape is the 23 year old Wandile Mbunyuza with his charity Health for Men.

A 22 year old, from Centurion in Gauteng, with his charity The Pink Hearts, Jason Rogers.

From Randburg, Gauteng, 24 year old Jodian van Aarde, supporting Talitha Stimulation.

Schalk van der Merwe, a 28 year old from Wolseley in the Western Cape who’s charity is Cape Town Pride.

Steve Williams, 37, from Johannesburg and a great supporter of CANSA.

Terence went about the first round of interviews asking the finalists some interesting questions.

Some of the questions and answers that really stood out to me were:

Rodney Clough when asked who inspired him he said public figures like Lady Gaga and Brad Pitt, who are straight but who also fight for gay rights and gay marriage.

One of the funniest questions and answers was when Aaron Blandin de Chalain was asked how he would describe himself to a blind date.

Aaron answered: he would say that he had reached the finals of Mr Gay South Africa, had looks and personality, so would the date still be on?

Brandley Gallant dreams of destroying all tags and labels put on people for good.

Tumi Makgaora wants to be a role model for all gay people, but black Gays especially as there is still so much stigma attached by straight friends and family but his voice will be able to make a difference.

When Wandile Mbunyuza was asked how he feels about the way society has been treating him as a Gay Man. He said that a lot of people have scolded him for being ungodly and unnatural but said that he didn’t complete an application form for being Gay. (O’Snap!)

When Jodian van Aarde was asked why he entered Mr. GSA. He answered that when he told his mother he is Gay, her words were: “Be Safe”. Mr Gay South Africa would give him the platform to promote Safety, Acceptance and Love.

Schalk van der Merwe said that being Gay, although extensive, was only one part of who he is.

It was time to announce the winners of various prizes:
The Winner for Best Ticket and Ad Sales: Steve Williams! Winning a 3 day dinner, bed and breakfast stay at Nomndeni Celukhule Lodge in Nelspruit.

Best score for the Written Exam was achieved by: Steve Williams!
Winning ANOTHER Nomndeni Package. Wow!

nomndeni

Best Blog was awarded to Aaron Blandin de Chalain. Also winning a Nomndeni Package. Aaron had a great blog which he really put effort into and wrote such personal yet beautiful blogs on his life and his time being a finalist for Mr. GSA. You can take a look at his cute blog here: www.mrgsafinalist.co.za/aaron
I do think Jodian van Aarde was a strong contender with his hilarious (and also personal) blog:  www.mrgsafinalist.co.za/jodian
Both Aaron and Jodian told me that they will be continuing their respective journeys as a bloggers so watch out for their fabulous work in the near future!

Soulful singer Nell performed her song “Anderkant die stilte”. Nell who also hails from the female group “La-Diva” studied Jazz and is a vocal lecturer at Tshwane University.

Nell

The Judges were announced:
Simone Heradien
Radio Personality from Radio Today’s show “OUTspoken” fame, socialite and journalist.

CEO of the public Protector, Advocate Themba Mthethwa.

Miss Junior South Africa 2011 Danmari Bouwer.

Mr. Gay South Africa 2009 and Mr. Gay World 2010 Charl van den Berg.

There were performances by Eden Michelle with her song about bullying called “Shout!”. Did she “Shout and Scream”?

Well, just enough for a singer but she does look like a rocker chick!

eden michelle2

The active wear was up next with a very high powered modelling sequence. The Muscular (and oh, yes, shirtless) finalists paraded sexy jeanswear by      True Religion to a very excited audience.

True Religion Sequence

True Religion

Interval arrived and everyone had a chance to recharge their booze batteries and have a ‘piepie’.

Among the glitteratti to be seen attending Mr. Gay South Africa was the famous Britney and GaGa impersonator Derick Barry who recently visited SA doing a run of his ever popular show at Babylon the Club as well as the Bar and Andre Smuts, the proudly out Afrikaans singer. Some of the Drag Royalty to be seen was Claudette Lee Cooper as well as Megan Carreira in their gorgeous blinged up evening gowns.

After interval one of the clear favourite parts of the competition was up next: Bone Wear and the audience went  crazy even at the mere mention of these muscle bound hunks who would be strutting their stuff in a more bare medium. When one has the privilege to sit in the front row of a contest you get to really appreciate your seat when it comes to the Underwear section. This is especially so when you can see EVERY single detail and realise that the contestants were not hiding any tissues in their undies. *Raised Eyebrows*
The audience got a bit hot under the collar and if my boobs were wax they would’ve melted!

Even Terence had to crawl onto the stage as he just couldn’t handle the heat of those hot bods!

Terence Crawling after seeing Bonewear

BW

It was time for more prizes:
The Bone Wear Underwear Model of the Year and a year’s supply of Bone Wear was awarded to Jason Rogers! With a body and smouldering looks that even Daniel Craig would have a licence to kill for it came as no surprise.

Mr Popular for receiving the most SMS votes was: Steve Williams! Receiving his THIRD Nomndeni package! According to Coenie just on 5000 SMS votes were received for the popularity competition so this just goes to show the phenomenal support that came from the LGBTI community and greater SA public.

The Winner for Best YouTube Video went to Schalk Van Der Merwe! His clip was very well directed and conveyed his message as Mr. GSA finalist beautifully. Schalk also walked away with a Nomndeni Package.

Here is Schalk’s award winning YouTube Clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlLnkbulw4Y

Goodness all the packages that were at this contest were so much! Some were given away and others were on display! Eish so confusing LOL

The Mr. GSA directors and organisers namely Coenie Kukkuk, John-Louis O’Neil, Frank Malaba and Karin Sephton were thanked for their tireless work and many hours of self sacrifice to put up such a spectacular event. What many people do not realise is that this event was organised in their spare time and many sacrifices were made but as Coenie mentioned it was worth it.

Mr GSA Directors

The saddest part of the evening was the announcement by Coenie that both he and John-Louis O’Neil would be stepping down as Directors in their respective portfolio’s. Coenie will still remain Director for Africa for the Mr. Gay World Organisation.

Coenie Kukkuk said that when he was younger there were no such institutions like the Mr. GSA organisation. The LGBTI community needed “someone to give hope and who they could aspire to.” It has always been a dream of Coenie and the Mr GSA Organisation to host the Mr. Gay World Pageant here in South Africa and this year that Dream was realised. Another chapter in LGBTI history has closed but there is always another great one to be written.

Before Timothy Moloi began to sing a beautiful version of “Paradise Road” a slide show played on the big screen of everything and anything to do with our Beautiful South Africa with the Lyrics: “There are better days before us, there’s a burning bridge behind us…” Images played of the healing that took place in our country’s past.
The slide show ended with the names of members of the LGBTI community. It was a tribute to those who had lost their lives to preventable Deaths: Hate Crimes, Suicide and yes Car Accidents, my dear Foxylopez Brown’s name, who had just recently passed away, was on that screen and one couldn’t help but have a lump in the throat.

Timothy & Names

The final segment of the show was the evening wear sponsored by Top Hat Suit Co.

Top-Hat

Formal Wear Mr GSA

Each finalist was dressed in his own unique outfit. As Timothy sang his powerful rendition of Heather Small’s “Proud” with the lyrics “What have you done today to make me feel proud” trio’s of handsome and dashing men graced the stage. Amongst my Favourite’s were Aaron Blandin de Chalain’s Tuxedo, Jodian van Aarde’s Champagne suit, Martiens De Jager’s very corporate look and Dijan Botha’s smile.

The Mr. MichaelGamePlan title for Best Sportsman of 2012/13 award went to Brian Clough! According to Coenie, at the breakaway week before the contest Brian (and later his brother Rodney as well) fell down during the sport challenge but managed to pick himself up and get the top score.

Finalists at the Mr. GSA Breakaway Mpumalanga held at Kat-Man-Doo Gay Male Resort; Flycatcher Castle, Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve - photo by Ryan Nicolas Lourens

Finalists at the Mr. GSA Breakaway Mpumalanga held at Kat-Man-Doo Gay Male Resort; Flycatcher Castle, Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve – photo by Ryan Nicolas Lourens

MGP

Just to note some of the fantastic support from Sponsors, Tempest Car Hire sponsored ALL of the transport for the Mr. GSA finalists at Joburg Pride, the Breakaway week, the Grand finale itself, Mr. Gay World 2012 AND yes even the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival in Knysna this year. Phew that’s a lot of petrol!  I wonder who played taxi Driver? LOL

TEMPEST CAR HIRE

The Best Charity Work award was given to Jason Rogers for raising R13,000 for The Pink Hearts Animal Charity winning a College SA Study grant of R15000. Jason raised the funds by organising a charity “Bitchy Bingo” at the fabulous Beefcakes Restaurant in Illovo, Joburg who by the way won the Rosetta Award 2012 for Service Excellence from RASA (Restaurant Association of South Africa).

college-saBeefcakes

Mr Personality was awarded to: Jodian van Aarde, as Gay as a Jacaranda, he really deserved this prize and like “Miss Congeniality” this prize was decided by fellow finalists. He also won a Nomndeni package! Phew!

One of the biggest parts of the evening arrived with the announcement of the Top 5. This was as they say “Maak of breek” (Make or Break)

Drum Roll!

The Top 5 finalists for Mr. Gay South Africa™ 2012/13:
(Hopefully in no particular order?)

Brian Clough
Martiens De Jager
Jodian van Aarde
Jason Rogers
Steve Williams

MrGSA Top 5 high res

The Top 5 were then each asked the same question as the rest were soundproofed backstage from hearing the ‘questioned’ .

As with Mr. Gay World 2012 Terence had the pleasure of asking the question:

“If a young Gay Male/female approached you who is being bullied or abused what would you say to him/her?”

Some of the things that stood out with the top 5’s answers were:

Jodian
“Respect and stand up for yourself. You can become your own superhero”

Brian
“There are people out there who are willing to help and talk about it.”

Jason
“Love yourself, you are not alone, you are special, each person is there to find his purpose.”

Steve
“They should never doubt themselves. Step away from the bully. Make yourself the best person possible.”

Martiens
“Stay strong. He would support him/her all the way to have a better future.”

While the audience was anxiously waiting for the judges to make a final decision Freddie Van’Dango Performed next in you may have guessed it, a rather prudish looking dress, “deurmekaar bolla” (confused hair) and high rise Orange sneakers.

All that I could say was:

“Freddy in a Frock!”
Freddie sang his song: “I’d be your Supergirl” and despite the rather ‘avant garde’ choreography one realises that he actually has a great voice. I do not know if I would class his music in the right genre but it may be something in the line of Electro Pop however he may just be way out there!

The final moment arrived where the biggest announcement for the evening was to be made: Who would be the next Mr. Gay South Africa. To add to the suspense Coenie asked the audience to take a 10 minute break as scores were close, a mere 0.2% and over 4000 marks had to be calculated. This just goes to show that the Mr. GSA judging process is quite rigorous and the winner is carefully selected.

As we were waiting for the final score to be checked one of the other highlights of the evening was of course the free booze by Creation Wines. We had the privilege of tasting a 2012 Sauvignon Blanc called “whale POD” which is just a superb light white wine but which made my heels quite heavy after having to down the rest quite quickly before getting back to the show and almost falling my way down the stairs to our front row seats! LOL

It was time for the previous Mr. Gay South Africa, Lance Weyer, to hand over his reigning title. I actually shed a tear or two because he is the first Mr. GSA that I have come to know quite well and I will surely miss him. I mean I bought one of his Bone Wear undies (ok, technically swimming trunks) at the Mr. GSA Gala Dinner and Charity Auction! A slide show of Lance and all his adventures while Mr. Gay SA played showing all the events he attended as well as his travels all over the world, compliments of Club Travel Cape Quarter (The Lucky Fish!). One Could See that Lance was holding back his tears but he had said that 2012 was one of the busiest but best years of his life!

Lance Says Farewell

<-----See I bought those undies, ahem, swimming trunks. LOL

Drum Roll
Here Goes!
And the winners for Mr. Gay South Africa™ 2012/13:

Brian Clough 2nd runner up
Steve Williams 1st runner up and deputy to Mr. Gay South Africa™.

And the Winner of Mr. Gay South Africa™ 2012/2013 is:
Jason Rogers!

Mr. GSA Jason Rogers

Congratulations! Wishing Jason and his Deputy Steve all of the best in their new roles as representatives of the SA LGBTI community. Jason will be representing South Africa at the Mr. Gay World contest to be held together with the World OUTGames in Antwerp, Belgium in 2013.

Mr Gay SA Top 3

terence and Cathy

Congrats to the finalists, You all did so well and I’m sure you grew personally and gained a lot of great adventures and experience.

What I have learned from the Mr. GSA Grand Finale:
* Get a bloody GPS! Pretoria confuses the living daisies out of me!
* The most profound moment for me did not come from any of the finalists, or the hosts, nor the judges and not even Lance, Coenie or the Directors themselves! It came from Jodian van Aarde’s future Mother-in-Law.

She told me that she never knew a lot about the LGBTI community and didn’t quite understand us. That night she fully realised what our community was about: We are people just like everyone else (and beautiful too), we are proud and have our own dreams, aspirations and yes we can be good people too (duh!). If this contest could melt away the perceptions of one straight person I only know about, imagine the impact this contest has on a National level? It is truly profound.

For more photos on the Mr. GSA Grand Finale you can go to Mambaonline’s gallery here:  http://www.mambaonline.com/galleries_view.asp?gal_id=697

mambaONLINE

Not a single Finalist walked away empty-handed with this Competition.
Just take a look at the staggering Prizes that not just the winner, runners up and top 5 won but finalists as well! Check out the staggering list Below the Generous Sponsors:

1. From Rani Resorts:

1st. Winner: 3 nights at Medjumbe Private Island, Mozambique for 2 people sharing (for the Winner) including all food & drink worth R32000;

2nd: 3 nights at Indigo Bay Island Resort and Spa, Moz. for 2 people sharing including all food & drink worth R32000;

3rd: 3 nights at Matemo Island. Mozambique for 2 people sharing including all food & drink worth R27000;

4th: 3 nights at The Stanley and Livingstone at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe for 2 people sharing incl. breakfast & dinner worth R18500;

5th: 2 nights at The Stanley and Livingstone at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe for 2 people sharing incl. breakfast & dinner worth R12500. Total: R122000.00

2. a. To the winner: a study grant worth R15000 from College SA; a year’s supply of MichaelGamePlan; Chris Winspear jewellery worth R5000; Cut, colour & style for one year from Jawy; a hamper from House of James Douglas; two pairs of True Religion jeans worth R12000; Gay Pages subscription for one year and a year’s supply of Bone Wear;

b. Study bursary worth R7 500 from College SA for the rest of the top 5;

c. Dinner vouchers for the top 5 from Beefcakes;

d. A cut, colour & style for each finalist from Jawy;

3. To the Bone Wear Model of the Year – a year’s supply of Bone Wear;

4. Winner Best Ticket & Advertisement Sales – winning a 3-day dinner, bed & breakfast at Nomndeni Celukhule Lodge, Nelspruit;

5. Best Written Exam – also winning a Nomndeni package as above;

6. Best Charity Work – winner wins the title of Mr College SA and a study grant worth R15000 from College SA;

7. Mr Personality – winning a Nomndeni package as above;

8. Best Blog – winning a Nomndeni package as above.

9. Title of Mr. MichealGamePlan going to the Best Sportsman of 2012, winning a MGP hamper;

10. Winner of the Popular Vote – best SMS scores, winning a Nomndeni package as above;

11. Best Video – winning a Nomndeni package as above;

12. EACH finalist received Bone Wear worth R3000 for the break-away;

13. EACH finalist received a MGP hamper worth R1000 for the break-away;

14.EACH finalist received a T-shirt from Wonderguy;

15. EACH finalist received a T-shirt sponsored by Globeflight & Gay Pages;

16. All received wine from Creation, alcoholic beverages from Esnell and were hydrated by Glaceau Mineral Water

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Tribute to a Dancing Diva: Foxylopez Brown

Foxy

On Thursday 06 December I attended the memorial service of Foxylopez Brown. The service was held at the beautiful Heavensgate in Boksburg, a fitting place to have said our last goodbyes to a Diva.

Foxy tragically passed away in the hospital on Sunday morning 2 December after being involved in a car accident while coming back from a bachelorette’s party where she did a performance. As of yet the accident is shrouded in mystery and many people have speculated what had happened but these could just be rumours and not the full truth. I think everyone was and still is too shocked that Foxy is gone.

At the memorial service everyone was asked to wear Red and Black and in typical Queer community fashion everyone was dressed .
When I arrived (horribly casually late) at the Memorial everyone was sitting quietly as some of Foxy’s favourite songs like ‘Diamonds’ by Rihanna was playing as I eventually sat down. ‘Candy Man’ by Christina Aguilera played and one could almost laugh with the cheery song that was being played despite the very solemn atmosphere.

Selwyn Thomas also known as Charne Churchill opened the memorial service with a very emotional eulogy dedicated to Foxy. I can tell you now there wasn’t a dry eye in that service. I myself ruined my make-up countless times.

Many people from close Drag friends like Shannin Brown, Kitana Clittoris, Darren Malay, Nicole Zackey, knoxima Jackson and fellow dancers and choreographers who worked with Foxy dedicated eulogy’s to her.

When other people were asked if they wanted to dedicate anything to Foxy everyone was dead quiet but we all were just too shocked and bereaved to say a thing.

I should have stood up and said something but I thought I could say something now:

“Foxy, I never had the great privilege to get to know you as well as your other sisters did. We were always bumping into each other at clubs, Prides, shows and pageants but each time we went our separate ways something about you remained with me: Your laughter and smile was infectious. You never said a bad thing about anyone and if someone said something you would just laugh it off. You were a spectacular performer but never thought yourself better than others. Most importantly you were never shy to teach me something about being a Queen without judging me. I will never forget that night in the Ladies Bathrooms at Ramp Divas when you taught me how to walk and carry myself with a Drag Pageant. Even with the little precious time we spent together you left something special inside me and I am a better person because of you.”

I never thought that Foxy’s death would upset me this much but it is because a kind hearted person is no longer with us and I have to carry on my life path more alone now.

When the memorial was finished, everyone was asked to form a ‘guard of honour’ outside the entrance of Heavensgate reception hall. Slowly Foxy’s Casket came out and everyone put a rose on it as it went past. I didn’t have a rose but could get to touch the casket and give a last goodbye to Foxy.

Foxy was born Brian Jeffrey Mouton but when a Queen dies both her male and female ‘persona’s’ need to be recognised especially for a grieving family who knew both.

The last time I saw Foxy was at Soweto Pride when her and a show group performed. As always Foxy was performing and dancing her heart out. I had the chance to see her backstage together with her good friend Nicole Zackey and the singer Linda. I had even taken a photo of her sexy bum as a joke. Little did I know that it would be the last time I would see Foxy alive.

Foxy was one of the few Queens I know who could lift her foot past her head and split flat. (I can’t even split, nevermind get my foot past my waist!)
The most striking thing about foxy was that she was really beautiful, both as a boy and as a girl. When I showed my Colleagues at work a photo of Brian I said that face was too beautiful to be that of a Boy’s.

On the night of Foxy’s Memorial the fabulous show group: “Divas of Drag” performed a tribute show to Foxy which was well attended by friends. Proceeds from this show have been used to raise funds for transport for Foxy to be buried in her home town of Upington in the Northern Cape.

What I have learned from Foxy and yes even her death:
* As a Queen, never judge.
* Always try to smile like Foxy did.
* When I perform on a stage I need to give it my all, I need to perform my heart out.
* I need to reach out to other Drag Queens more because face it, we need each other’s help and support.

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Carla Goes GaGa!

Lady GaGa Born This Way Ball

Lady GaGa hits Johannesburg with a bang!

On 30 November Lady GaGa performed her world sell-out concert the ‘Born This Way Ball’ to a crowd of 60 000 fans at the FNB stadium in Nasrec, Jozi.

The atmosphere was electric but anxious as well as the crowd waited to get a glimpse of the music and Fashion Icon. To my great sadness I originally thought tickets were sold as the ticketing provider computicket had crashed when online sales went open and at that time I just didn’t have money. A small voice inside told me a day before the concert to check if any tickets were available and yes there were despite being bloody expensive! Small miracles do happen.

Lady Starlight, a friend of GaGa who is just as arty and “eccentric”, as well as The Darkness were the opening acts performing one of their most popular hits “I believe in a thing called Love”.

Lady Starlight

The Darkness

Lady GaGa had asked “Die Antwoord” to open her concert for her but they declined and subsequently released their music video “Fatty Boom Boom” which made hilarious fun of Lady GaGa in true South African Style. Lady GaGa retaliated to the hype on social networks though with the famous tweet:

“@ladygaga: i fink u freaky but you don’t have a hit. hundred thousand tIckets sold in SA. #thatmyshit”

Fatty Boom Boom

The crowd had to wait more than hour and a half after the opening act for GaGa and jokes started to fly around like “Maybe GaGa is defrosting her dress?” or “this is Soweto they would take GaGa and have a braai with her and her meat dress.” Classical music was playing while everybody waited and everyone was saying: “enough with the elevator music already!”

There were fans who had waited since 4AM to be the first to get into the stadium and they weren’t disappointed. The first 250 fans were allowed into the “monster pit” which was basically like a golden circle for staunch Lady GaGa supporters.

Eventually a mysterious billowing curtain on stage dropped down revealing a gothic castle with strangely shaped windows and a maize of stairs and platforms. The lighting alone was spectacular!

A procession appeared out of one of the archways with flag bearers and Lady GaGa wearing a bling encrusted outfit sitting on what appeared to be a very realistic horse (this was in fact a giant puppet controlled by people who were literally carrying GaGa on their shoulders!)

Born this Way Ball Castle

Lady Gaga 'Born This Way Ball Tour', Johannesburg, South Africa - 30 Nov 2012

The next moment the entire castle splits and folds open like a book and standing inside the windows of the unfolding castle, were the band members and DJ playing GaGa’s music!

Lady GaGa Born This Way
Inside the castle a giant belly and legs inflated forming part of GaGa as she was giving birth and next moment out pops GaGa through a Zip opening between the legs! Talk about making a statement but the birth of a “new race” has been one of GaGa’s themes in her work.

Hectic Face

A giant face, known as mother Goat suspended in a diamond, narrated a hectic story inbetween songs about the Government controlling some alien colony in outer space called South Africa. Lady GaGa later banished Mother Goat close to the end of the show but that face looked pretty strange with it’s rolling eyes!

GaGa introduced herself as not being a man, a woman, a creature or an alien, she said: “I Am You, and you are Me. I exist because of you.” She thanked everyone for buying a ticket and coming to watch her show.

GaGa asked the crowd if people talked shit about them, about their race, religion, orientation, culture and background would they give a f*ck? She asked all her dancers if they gave a f*ck? They didn’t. She even asked one of her performers known as ‘Black Jesus’ a very religious person wearing a crown of thorns and even he, according to her, didn’t have any f*cks to give. GaGa: “I’ll ask you South Africa, are you brave enough not to give a f*ck?” So in fact 60 000 people just didn’t give a f*ck! LOL
GaGa told the crowd that if there were those people who were not enjoying themselves then she “doesn’t give a f*ck” as well. She asked if there were any people working the next day, she didn’t give a f*ck about that either and said that everyone better have a hangover from drinking and throwing up all over their friends!

GaGa performed hit after hit:
Highway Unicorn
Government Hooker
Born This Way

Black Jesus Amen Fashion

GaGa the Ghost

Bloody Mary
GaGa Fashion

GaGa 1

Bad Romance
With this song GaGa was, as with the music video and her performance at the 53rd Grammy awards in Los Angeles in 2011, brought on stage in an egg.

Judas
GaGa mentioned how there were some people who did come to watch the show but who would go home afterwards and betray her. I told my man that I think a lot of people bought a ticket to come and see if what their preachers or pastors said about GaGa was true. #Sheep #Lies

Fashion of His Love
Just Dance
LoveGame
Telephone

GaGa rolled onto the stage on a motorbike with a sexy bikini clad dancer sitting on top of her bumping and grinding her so much that it would make most Lesbians blush, but wait a minute, GaGa wasn’t riding the motorbike, she WAS the motorbike!

GaGa is the motorbike!

Heavy Metal Lover
Bad Kids

GaGa Spiritual

Princess Die
GaGa had a very spiritual and philosophical moment on stage where she sang the Ballad version of “Born this Way” as well as some very personal songs she had written about herself. She sang a song about committing suicide and how she would like to be buried at her funeral with her favourite pearls and lipstick on as that is how she would like to be remembered.
She invited 5 people from the monster pit to come and sit with her on her motorbike which had ‘magically’ transformed into a keyboard. Those lucky Fishes!

She said that she had travelled the world and listened to stories from her “little monsters” about bullying. GaGa mentioned that there may be people who were treating you badly at school, at work or even at home where there wouldn’t be a place at the dinner table for you because of what you believed in or who you were but at her table there would always be a seat for you. GaGa knew that not everyone understood her but said that her creativity and expression was her way of dealing with the pain of her past.

GaGa said that at that moment she was wearing a lot of make-up, a very expensive wig and outfits but she was no different to anybody else.
She mentioned that over the years and as her music and concerts went on she noticed how her fans had grown out of emulating or copying her to creating their own unique style and she appreciated that.

One of Lady GaGa’s messages is about acceptance, not just acceptance from others but first and foremost accepting yourself.

Hair
You and I

 lady GaGa Electric Chapel

Electric Chapel
With this song there was a beautiful chapel scene with two crosses and the entire castle and stage was ablaze with every colour of the Gay Flag rainbow. Somehow one wonders if the theme was talking about same-sex Marriage, a hotly debated topic in the USA for years now. Maybe. We already know how GaGa is a fighter for Equality and LGBTI rights.

Talking about Pride, GaGa actually brought the South African Flag on stage with her motorbike and waved it around as she skipped about to the roar of the crowd. Pity she didn’t have the Gay SA Flag with her but I have a feeling she would whip it out in Cape Town!

GaGa and the SA Flag

Americano
Poker Face
The stage was transformed into a butchery in minutes with Carcasses hanging around the place and GaGa, wearing a form fitting dress made from (hopefully fake) meat, being brought in as one of the hanging meat items on display. GaGa told the crowd “So because I’m a woman am I a piece of meat to you?” Legs of female dancers were hanging out of giant meat mincers and later GaGa raised herself from below stage on a couch which looked like a giant piece of meat!

Lady GaGa Meat Dress

So often people misunderstand GaGa’s work as they do not know how to look at the artistic meaning behind it.
The day before the concert when my Man and I went to buy bread and milk at the shops and as always the cashier ladies asked us what our plans were for the weekend, we were not shy to mention that we were going to see GaGa. A rather conservative lady in front of us turned around and said: “do you know that she is a Satanist and Baths in Blood?!” I of course was livid and asked her: “so are ALL artistic types Satanists?”. If I had my pepper spray she would’ve been on the floor but that wouldn’t change her narrow and archaic view of things in any way.

Here is a video of some of the action that went down:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U14hHMF1i18

Alejandro
Lady GaGa dedicated this song to all the Gay people out there and proudly paraded her Male dancers, most of whom are Gay, to her fans. One of the crowd members had said one could easily play a game of “spot the Gay” at the concert and that was definitely true not to mention the very hot talent that came out to watch.

Paparazzi

Just before performing Scheibe GaGa said: “I can’t speak South African but I can if you want me to!”

Scheibe

What amazed me was how quickly GaGa could change into her next outfit. It sometimes felt as if she took only seconds to change plus the amount of fabulous outfits she wore was staggering! No wonder the press had reported that she had brought six vans full of outfits alone together with an entourage of 200 people!

In one of the most emotional moments of the show for me, GaGa told the crowd that when she was about 12 she did a show at a bar with only 3 people in the audience: her Mom, her Dad and the Bar Owner. Her Mother, who was already nervous about her young daughter being in a bar asked her daughter if she had practiced enough. GaGa answered that she had been practicing since the age of 4. Today she was doing a show in front of
60000 people! GaGa said that one must never stop dreaming and put everything on the line for what you really want and believe in .

GaGa is a unifying force. For probably one of the few times in my life and here in South Africa especially I have seen people from every religion, race, culture, sexual orientation and background coming together, putting all their shit aside and enjoying a show.
One just has to wonder why we can’t do that more often but people love to hold on to what divides them. It gives them a sense of security and a comfort zone. GaGa is definitely not living in a comfort zone.

When everyone thought the show was finished and people were screaming “we want more!” up pops GaGa to perform “The Edge of Glory” and “Marry the Night” with a beautiful dance performance. GaGa invited 10 more people from the famous monster pit and at that point There were mixed emotions whether tears or ecstatically happy people. Somewhere somehow GaGa disapeared again and we knew it was final when we stadium lights came on. Sadly it was the end.

GaGa invites more people from the monster pit

All in all it was truly a night to remember and it was worth every cent to go watch this show-stopper concert. If that means I have to cancel Christmas this year then so be it! LOL
My man, Petrus, told me on the way home that for one to really appreciate GaGa you need to go and watch one of her concerts. GaGa told the crowd that when she makes her next world tour she would never forget to make a stop in South Africa as she had learned and grew a lot from her visit here.

One of Lady GaGa’s tweets read:
“@ladygaga: Johannesburg was so wonderful, i can’t really put it into words. I’m so happy, I haven’t slept yet. Laying in bed dreaming of the next tour.”

What I have learned from GaGa:
*She told the crowd that 5 years ago she was a waitress in New York, working 3 jobs but she wrote and made music every day of her life.
This has stuck with me, I see in my own life where work and responsibilities are drowning out what I really want: To be a performer and activist.
* GaGa is not as bad as what Christians make her out to be. She may be artistic and weird, even outrageous, but she is a motivating person who preaches a message of genuine Love and acceptance. Something the church needs to take notes on!
* I want to be in the Monster pit when she comes to visit again.

So next time GaGa comes to SA you can bet on me going!

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Mr. Gay South Africa™ 2012/13 Finalist: Martiens de Jager

Martiens De JagerMartiens

Photography by Ryan Lourens

Fabulous Jeanswear by:

True Religion

Name: Martiens de Jager
Age: 25
What Work does he do?
Human Resource Director
Where does he live?
Somerset West, Western Cape

Martiens is a very passionate and enthusiastic person. He has a painful past but I think we can learn from his experiences and how he picked himself up from Rock Bottom. Many people can relate to his story whether from battling peer pressure and drug addiction to the pain of coming out when everyone was not as accepting.

In your coming out story you have mentioned having friends who were the same “calibre” as you. What does this mean to you? What advice would you give any LGBTI person when it comes to choosing your friends?

“As a young boy I was always doing just what I liked – whatever it was, keeping me busy with the usual – everyday things or my overall interests in life. I surrounded myself with people and places where I felt comfortable and happy. It doesn’t depend on the sexual orientation or even the Gay matter! It depends on the character, the life, the humanity and a thing called love. Not only in relationships, but also with the beloved ones! Advice derives from a matter of building character. What does shape you makes you original. What doesn’t make you original makes you un-alive! Anyone can choose, BUT… the true individual deserves it! Choose yourself, use your guidelines, live according to yourself, and the rest will be there!”

Martiens my Darling, what is up with the boxing gear you wear in your photos? Are you a boxer in your spare time as well? Do wish you could be a boxer in another life or do you want to look tough? Just asking! 😉 LOL

“A fight is a fight – whether it is physical or emotional. All of us have to fight! The image I want to express is the fact that I am sometimes fighting with myself, others or/and the world. What is fighting all about? It is all about existence. For me to live, to strive, to be a part of creation… a boxer is only an image of FIGHTING. Maybe it comes from deep inside of me; maybe it comes from shallow waters. Who knows? But Fight, I WILL FIGHT, for myself and the LGBTI community!!”

Martiens’ Short Story:
“One of my hardest challenges I faced was the ‘Acceptance phase’. I abused drugs and alcohol for the reason that I had to get the sad feeling out of sight and mind. It later went so far that it became an identification crisis. I did not know who I was and had to handle my circumstances and feelings. I disappointed my family and friends in many areas of my life. I overcame my alcohol and drug abuse through a psychiatrist to whom my employer at that staged referred me to. A lot was solved there and my life returned to a direction of “normality”. The ‘Acceptance phase’ was not from my side but more from family and friends. I had to learn that they had to learn to accept me for who I am.

A serious issue which I would like to mention is the blatant drug dealing which is going on in the streets and parking lots near nightclubs, pubs etc. It frightens me how openly available substances are to party-goers, not even to mention the robberies, murders and so on that takes place in these surroundings. I would like to see that the Government makes a full hands-on investigation into this matter for I would like to see that the younger generation of South Africa is not exposed to this.

On the brighter side – so much is happening in my life at the moment. My youngest brother and his wife are expecting a baby boy that will be born the same evening as the Finals for MR GSA 2012. I also received news that my older brother and his wife are also expecting their first born but we are not sure of the gender yet lol. Further on I am blessed with a great company, supportive family and friends and a great and happy lifestyle. I cannot ask for more! Thanks to our Heavenly Father.”

Since there is this great news of new family members on the way have you ever thought of having children yourself? If you ever were to have children would you adopt a child or have a surrogate mother carry your baby?

“First of all, I am focusing on my career and my advancement in it. I always used to say : ”I want to adopt two Chinese daughters.” I am a man, obviously I have the urge to provide, to give and to love. I hope to go through the process of finding a woman who will provide me with the blessing of having children of my own – as surrogate of course. Time will tell.”

Adopting children is one of the “battle fronts” we also seem to be lagging on in South Africa. The process can be very difficult especially if the social worker or authorities involved have homophobic perceptions causing the process to be too rigorous becoming almost impossible. Martiens would like to have a surrogate mother but unfortunately not everyone can go that route as it is very expensive especially for Gay couples. Maybe this issue can also be taken on by Mr. GSA?

In the LGBTI community drug and substance abuse is a major challenge we face today. I wanted to ask someone who has really been there and has released himself from the vicious circle.

In your past experience, can excessive drugs and booze genuinely take away a person’s pain or sadness? What can a person do instead of using drugs and booze to help cope better and deal with your problems?
Was your struggle for acceptance not also for accepting yourself as well?

“At a stage in my life, drugs and alcohol was always there. At that stage it was everything I needed. It is a trap, a desire that a lot of LGBTI people fall into or are attracted to. The fact that one cannot let go, is because it placates the “desire” of being a full person ….unknown that the real you is actually waiting to be himself. The more I used the less I ‘became’. It was a downward hill actually! It was also a matter of peer pressure. I never took any substances to define who I am, but rather to “fit in.” I think one has to be oneself and to face everyday situations as they come without resorting to the fake help from drugs.”

I like the fact that Martiens uses the word “fake”. Drugs do provide “fake help”. It is temporary. My Mom used to always say that any Drugs provide a false sense of power.

When someone says “I really want this”
how much enthusiasm, dedication and passion is needed to enter and go through with a Mr GSA contest? Is there a measure for this?

“It takes yourself, it takes care, it takes ambition, it takes fighting, it takes individuality, it takes a difference, it takes resemblance, it takes LIFE……! I do not think there is a measure for this but rather to have ambition to make a difference.

Thank you for the opportunity to have had an interview with you Carla.”

What Have I Learned from Martiens:
* You can choose to pick yourself up from the ground if you come to a fall in life or not. The choice is yours to make.
* Drugs provide fake help, it’s not real.
* Fight for what you believe in and take a stand for it.

You can read more about Martiens on his blog here: www.mrgsafinalist.co.za/martiens

Thanks to Martiens! Despite the pain of his past he has stood up from the ashes and can stand proudly today.

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Mr. Gay South Africa™ 2012/13 Finalist: Aaron Blandin de Chalain

AaronAaron 2

Name: Aaron Blandin de Chalain
Age: 19
What Work does he do?
2nd Year Hospitality Management Student
Where does he live?
Durban

Photography by Ryan Lourens

Jeanswear by:
True Religion

Aaron is a young person with so much energy and drive. He knows what he wants and how he wants to get it. Aaron has this creativity about him which he has reflected throughout his involvement with Mr. GSA. He represents a younger generation of LGBTI people with such honesty so I thought I’d ask him about the LGBTI Youth of today.

In South African society today the term “born-free” has been coined, what does this mean to you?  What kind of challenges do you think the LGBTI youth of today have that are different to older generations? What advice would you give to an LGBTI youth facing such challenges?

“I know no other way than “Born-free” – I have had the privilege of growing
up in a democratic SA where all people are awarded the opportunity to vote,
have equal access to all this country offers and every right to lead a life
they choose.

I think that the elder generations fought for acceptance and tolerance which could not have been an easy battle – they have my respect.  As the younger generation we have to deal with maintaining that level of respect that those before us fought to achieve and with so many more platforms to fight on with Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, internet, etc, it is a bigger boxing ring.

Any young LGBTI person of today needs to keep a level of dignity – actions speak louder than words so work harder, get that promotion, do that job well, prove you are capable, reach higher and eventually your opponents will be silenced without you having to stoop to their level.”

I have picked up from our younger generation of LGBTI people, especially from Teens, that there is more of a general willingness to work together despite there still being gaps in income and racial equality that still need to somehow be bridged. “Born Free” Youth know about the atrocities of our country’s past but somehow they seem to have less resentment  from it compared to the older generations.

Okey Dokey, I decided to have some fun! Aaron has a passion for Music so I thought I’d ask him to setup a list of songs for me, but not just any songs! LOL

If you had a song, any song, by any artist for each of your fellow Mr Gay SA Finalists, what would these songs be? (You can give the Artist as well if you wish)

“I thoroughly enjoyed receiving this question as I already had a song for a
few contestants in mind. I sometimes do have a habit of linking a song to
somebody I meet and so before I even received this question I had linked a
few of the contestants to songs already. I also ask that the contestants
don’t take offence at all to the songs I have linked to them as this is more
of a fun question than on a serious note. Just for laughs! :)… (Take note
of the contestants with ‘*’s next to their names as these are the few that I
have already linked before receiving this question, the rest I thought up of
for this question)

*Jodian– “Ass” by Niki and lil wayne

*Tumi– Any Adam Lambert song due to the surname similarities LOL.

Jason– “Pretty fly for a white guy”.

*Dijan– “Jy dink jy’s cooler as eke” by Jack Parrow =P.

Schalk– “The man who can’t be moved”

*Twins– Any rock song because when I met them, the way they were dressed and stanced themselves I immediately thought “Rockers” ;).

*Brandley– “Look at me now” by Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes (mainly
for the fact that I believe Brandley can talk at the speed equivalent to
Busta Rhymes rap LOL)

Hendrik– “Smile” by Justin Bieber because his smile is so contagious.

Oyama– “The Lonely Island” ft Rihanna- Shy Ronnie and Clyde

*Martiens– “Greece Lightning” because he looks like John Travolta in his
younger days.

Steve– “Greece Lightning” because I’m sure he was a part of John Travolta’s
younger days 😉 hehe.”

Aaron’s Short Story
“OK… I’m only nineteen years of age so as far as challenges in my life are
concerned…there haven’t been that many that have been unique or unlike any other young man trying to find his place in life.  Not trying to sound
flippant … just telling the truth.

I am the younger of two sons, my elder brother is a hottie with a stunning
girlfriend, designer flat, nice job and all the gadgets and toys of your
regular Jhb yuppie… love him to bits. My parents are Mario and Julie
… they’ve been together since school years – irritate the living daylights
out of each other (as per normal couples) but are still together and love
us more than anything else in the world.

I enjoyed school but was never the athletic sporty type (nor the academic
or cultural type come to think of it, EISH) –  enjoyed my friends and spent
weekends sneaking into clubs, drinking on the sly and fooling Mario & Julie
into thinking I was an obedient son (hehe).  I had/have an amazing set of
friends who are supportive of my lifestyle and are not judgemental …. but hey … if I’m paying for the drinks – what’s not to love??

On a serious note though …. my parents and immediate family have taught me the importance of family values and their love has given me the strength to be honest about my life choices. I see myself as a very respectful young man and have high moral values. My parents have taught me right from wrong and honesty is always the best policy. I honestly believe that I couldn’t have had a better upbringing as I am now very strong willed, independent and know what I want in life. I will forever stand up for what I believe is right, even if that means I’ll be standing alone. I am also very open-minded and love learning on people’s opinions. I am definitely an extrovert and love meeting new people and making new friends. I am always up for a good time but know that when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play.”

It’s important for young LGBTI people to still have dreams. As they say, Dreams are the time machines and realities of tommorrow. One of the biggest stresses a young person may face is what kind of job they want to have one day. As we all know finding the right one can be a confusing process and often the job that you want and the one you get are two different things. Yet still, we can dream. Dreams create hope for us, a sense of optimism.

Apart from the hospitality field what other kind of “Dream” Job have you thought of doing one day and why so?

“Club owner definitely!!! I know…that’s my youth talking but I have a deep
love for music and dancing and this would be the ideal way to incorporate
business with (my) pleasure! I would like a high-class establishment with no
tolerance for any fighting or drugs and I would work hard to achieve that. I
want to be known as a successful business man with a fun side and perhaps be
a positive influence to those entering my club.”

In what kind of situation do you think Mr. GSA would have to take a stand for what he believes in even if it appears as if he is standing alone?

“That’s a difficult one to answer – we have so many issues and challenges
facing us so it would be hard to pick only one but personally I would take a
stand if I felt that my integrity and belief in who I am was being
questioned.  I am proud of myself, my choices in life and what I have
achieved so far as do all proud Gay men – we do not need to justify our
place in society and we should not have to and I would face anyone/thing in order to bring that message home.”

To see more about Aaron and his cute blog, you can find it all here: www.mrgsafinalist.co.za/aaron

What I have Learned from Aaron:
* As a younger generation of LGBTI people we need to have respect for the older generation who fought so hard for our rights and yes we can learn a thing or two from them!
* There’s nothing wrong with having a bit of fun in all the “seriousness”!
* You can be honest about who and what you are then people will truly get to know you better.

Thank You to Aaron! He really has a very bright future ahead of him, best I put on my Lady GaGa Shades! (^^,)

1 Comment

Mr. Gay South Africa™ 2012/13 Finalist: Hendrik Kruger

Photography by Ryan Lourens.

    

Mr GSA Finalist 2012/13, SMS GSA5 to 40439 to vote for Hendrik to be Mr Gay South Africa 2012/2013. R2 per sms. Free minutes do not apply. Only 50 sms votes per phone allowed per day. T’s & C’s apply.

Jeanswear by:

I have 2 words for Hendrik: ‘Muscle’ & ‘ Mary’. In fact he is a whole nativity scene of muscle! Hendrik definitely Loves spending time in the gym but hey if you look great why not? In fact if I were to stand next to Hendrik one of the first things I would think of is that Gym card gathering dust in some forgotten corner of one of my Wardrobes.

Apart from going to the Gym what other activities do you enjoy doing in your spare time that might surprise someone?

“Apart from going to gym I love being in nature or spending time with my friends and family. Just a pity there is so little free time and when I have free time, the first place I go to is the gym. It’s just a place where I can have “me time” and then in that hour while I am in the gym, no one will be able to get hold of me as I don’t take my phone with me as that is my time! Then Sunday evenings if I have a few spare minutes I love to read all the news on mambaonline and Gay Pages whilst having soft music in the background lol. But I will always make time for my friends as they are the ones who are always there for me. When I still stayed in Uitenhage, in the Eastern Cape, on Sunday afternoons I would take my dog, Randy for a walk or if it’s a sunny and hot day I would take him to the beach. I really miss him. Oh and I love going to the movies!”

Recently the Mr. Gay SA organisation reached out and helped two of our LGBTI community members who were in real distress and in dire need of help.

A message sent by Johan Erasmus
“I would like to thank Coenie and the Mr. Gay S.A finalist for their support, assistance and caring hearts! Your care and love is heart felt and today I know that ther are still people and organizations that reach out a helping hand unconditionally! Thank from the bottom of our hearts! Johan & Patrick”

How do you know Johan and his partner Patrick? What did you do for them recently?

“I volunteered for this project and Coenie put me in charge of it. I started talking to Johan and he asked if I could help them with accommodation, so I contacted a few friends here in Pretoria to hear if they knew of any places that would be able to help them with accommodation. I got the number of a place called Homeless Solution in Arcadia, Pretoria. So the next day I fetched Johan and Patrick halfway from Krugersdorp after organising a place to stay at Homeless Solution and then took them to Arcadia to their new home. I am also selling tickets for a Barnyard show to raise money for them and for my charity organisation, Amadea Safe House for kids. I have also donated food to Homeless Solution which was sponsored to me by a special friend.”

As one can see from the above the Mr. GSA organisation is more than just a pageant and the public do not always see every selfless act that they do for our community. Although Johan and Patrick were just two people that were helped it was the Mr. GSA organisation that offered a helping hand when nobody else wanted to. True Story.

Hendrik’s Short Story:
“I am 28 years old, from Pretoria East and I am a Financial Advisor for a
big national company. I am also a twin – my ‘boeta’ and I are not identical
but we are very close and I love him to bits. He is straight and married to
a wonderful wife and we get along very well. They have also been really
good to me since I moved to Pretoria. He and his wife are both chartered
accountants. When I told my brother I am Gay (he was the first person I
told), his words were: “Boetie maak nie saak wie of wat jy is nie en al is
jy gay, ek is nogsteeds net so lief vir jou en jy sal altyd my boetie bly”.

I have faced a few difficult challenges since I came out of the closet. I
think first of all the most difficult was probably coming out to my
parents, because my dad is a reverend and is well known in my town where I
grew up and the last thing I wanted to do was to hurt my parents as I knew
how my dad would react when I would tell him.  But thank goodness 6 years later our relationship is better than ever,  as he made peace with the fact that his son is Queer (Gay).  A very special moment was when my dad and my mom said I must make them proud as a finalist in Mr. Gay South Africa 2012/13 and they even voted for me! Especially my mom always asks how it is going in the competition.

As for certain issues in the LGBTI community yes I would like to mention
one in particular and that is how we as LGBTI people discriminate against
each other, as if it is not bad enough that the straight people
discriminate against us as LGBTI people.  This is very sad and I really
hope we can stop doing that and rather learn to stand together – we
discussed this at a church function I attended. As a potential
Mr. Gay South Africa 2012/13 I want to change this in the LGBTI community.

People I would like to mention besides my parents there are two, the first
is someone I love very dearly and he is my best friend in Port Elizabeth,
Arnold. He has stood by me since the day I came out of the closet and we
have been friends for 6 years already and he is a real friend indeed. I really miss him a lot since I moved up to Pretoria.  Arnold thanks for 6 years of wonderful friendship. The other very special person is my ex and very good friend now, Stephan Muller.  He has also really always been there for me when I needed him just like Arnold.   Stephan and I dated for two and a half years.  But he is still a big part of me!  Stephan thank you for always being there and your advice when I needed it!”

Why do you think people within the LGBTI community are so judgemental towards each other by the way they look? What have you learnt about life when it comes to the way people look?

“Bad mouthing each other in the Gay community is a sad fact but it happens so much and it is something that needs to stop. As if we are not bullied enough by the straight people, we go and bad mouth people who are also part of the LGBTI, and it all comes down to jealousy. We have to learn to accept everyone for who they are. Every person is unique in his or her own way! Lets rather instead of bad mouthing each other see the good in each other instead of finding faults all the time. Let’s start to build up one another and stop with all the bad mouthing. And I have learned in life not to judge people by the way they look. There is a saying that goes never judge a book by its cover! We must remember that! Let’s learn to accept everyone as no one is perfect!”

In the LGBTI community breaking up with one’s ex is quite a messy Drama. Certain people go as far as bad mouthing each other on social networks and even their Darling pets get caught up in a “custody” battle. For instance poor old Fluffy gets to spend weekends with her one Dad as he is a workaholic and weekdays with her other Dad as he is a Party Animal.
Sad I know.

What did you do differently in order for you to keep a good relationship with your ex?

“Carla this a difficult question but I guess it all comes down to that we still loved each other when we broke up and we did not want to bad mouth each other and because we wanted to stay friends. Lol I also think it depends on the situation of the break up. But ja still today, Stephan is very close to my heart and we have a very good understanding and we will always be there for each other. The time we had together was just amazing and I am grateful that we remained such good friends. But it’s not always easy to remain friends with an ex. Stephan and I also promised each other that we will always be there for each other as friends.”

What Have I Learnt from Hendrik:
* It’s (sometimes) possible to have a good relationship with an ex.
* I need to get to a Gym or Yoga Class ASAP!
* Never judge someone by the way they look because you might be missing the opportunity to get to know a fantastic person.

You can look up Hendrik’s Blog here: http://mrgsafinalist.co.za/hendrik

Thank You to Hendrik! He is someone with so much Love to give this world.

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Mr. Gay South Africa™ 2012/13 Finalist: Schalk Van Der Merwe

Mr GSA Finalist 2012/13, SMS GSA10 to 40439 to vote for Schalk to be Mr Gay South Africa 2012/2013. R2 per sms. Free minutes do not apply. Only 50 sms votes per phone allowed per day. T’s & C’s apply.

Gorgeous Jeanswear by:

Name: Schalk Van Der Merwe
Age: 28
What Job does he do?
HR Manager at a large fruit and vegetable concern in Ceres.
Where does he live?
Wolseley near Tulbagh, Western Cape.

Schalk to me seems more like a Country boy. Despite having experienced city life as well he has a great Love for Nature.

Are you and your boyfriend the only “Queers in the Village” in Wolseley or is there some other decent talent?

“My boyfriend actually lives in Potchefstroom – long distance, I know!  We are definitely not the only Queers in the village!  Lol!  This is actually like a Gay Mecca!  We have lots of Gay and Lesbian friends.  I’m sure there is some decent talent!  And a lot of closet case farmers.  They should start a TV series:  “Boer soek ‘n ou” instead of “Boer soek ‘n vrou”!

Schalk got caught up in the recent violent wage dispute protests in the Western Cape and his Home Town of Wolseley didn’t escape the politically motivated unrest. Being an HR Manager Schalk was affected in more ways than one as he had to face disgruntled Farmworkers and negotiations with government. You can read more about the dramatic series of events that unfolded here on his blog:

www.mrgsafinalist.co.za/schalk

Briefly tell me about your Dog Daisy and what happened to her recently?

“Daisy is my eldest “child” and a mixed breed doggy.  She turned 5 this month and we treat her like a child.  She eats what I eat, and sleeps with me on my bed.  During the Wolseley riots last week, Daisy ran away.  She is very sensitive to sound, and the protestors were rioting in our street.  The Police shot rubber bullets, and that must have upset her very much.  My mom and I stayed home in order to wait for Daisy.  She only returned the next day.  It is very important to keep your doggies indoors in events like these.  A hard lesson I’ve learned through this drama.”

Schalk’s Doggie Daisy just moments after she came home to her Daddy!

I see you are an organist and pianist in the church. How is everyone towards you at your church? Are they ok with you being Gay?
In 2008 a music Lecturer at the arts academy of a church in Moreletapark, Pretoria sued his church for firing him because he was Gay. How do you think this Church should’ve reacted when they found out he was Gay?

“My church and community is fine with me being Gay.  I’ve never had an experience where someone made me feel uncomfortable in the church.  I love music and the people in the church appreciate me for being me.  Our church had a “meeting” years ago, where they discussed the issue of “homosexuals” in the church, and only three people objected to allowing Gay people in the church.  These three already left the church, so this isn’t an issue anymore.  I think for a small town like Wolseley, this is a big accomplishment.

I am aware of the situation at Moreletapark and I’m disgusted by their narrow-minded approach to homosexuality.  I actually approached them a year ago about their H2O project – Homosexuality to Overcome, and they couldn’t defend their viewpoint on this matter.  I think the church has to seriously reflect on this matter and allow homosexuals in the church and allow them to practice their profession irrespective of their sexual orientation.

The church should’ve embraced the fact that he is a member of their church and should’ve honoured him for setting such a good example in being actively involved in the church.  God doesn’t reject us for being Gay, how can a church do that?”

In probably one of your first posts on your blog I read the following phrase: “I am sorted in my personal life” and this has stuck with me. Briefly explain what “getting sorted” means to you and how you went about it in your own life.

“In order to be representative of the LGBTI community, you have to know
yourself and what you stand for in order to understand the complexity
of our society. With ‘sorted’ I mean that I know who I am and I am
proud of the fact that I am a Gay man. This isn’t an issue I struggle
with anymore. Many homosexual people cannot cope with their sexuality
and resort to suicide or substance abuse. I do not have issues with
my sexuality and function as a proud Gay male. I am not ashamed of
who I am.

I also know what I want out of life and do not place value on
materialistic things. I rather place value on my religion as
Christian, my family, friends and of course my doggies. Life is too
short to waste it on things that is not suppose to matter. I went
through a rather difficult financial period a while ago and learned
through that what matters most in life. I believe that good comes out
of any difficult situation and we should see a problem as an
opportunity for a solution.”

This I think is probably one of the most important things one has to do before taking on entering a contest with the kind of calibre of Mr. Gay SA. You need to get your finances sorted, your work life sorted, your spiritual life, physical life sorted and if you have that someone special in your life then that person needs to be taken into consideration when making a decision. Entering Mr. GSA takes a lot of Guts and determination!

Schalk’s Short Story
“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. I believe Forest Gump didn’t read the instructions when opening the box. Yes, life doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but certain situations can be avoided and handled with a bit of humour and a liberal and open perspective towards people’s approach to homosexuality.

I grew up on a farm close to a small town and I never even knew that something like homosexuality existed. I realised I was “different” from the normal boys from a young age when realising I was attracted to other boys. I tried to hide this being afraid of how other people might react when explaining to them how I felt. Struggling to align my sexuality with my religion as Christian was the biggest stumbling block I had to overcome. My parents were very conservative and set in their ways. Fortunately this changed gradually and is still improving.

My first encounter with other members of the LGBTI community was when I went to a Gay club at the age of 20 (believe it or not – this was the first time I met other Gay people). I was a bit shocked seeing that I’ve never been exposed to something like this ever, but I enjoyed it.

More about me? Well, I refer to myself as “plain Jane”. Not much baggage, enjoying life to the fullest, humble, love exercising, music and spending time with family and friends. I don’t take people too seriously and I don’t allow them to upset me. Life is too short to waste it on negativity. I also like reading, when I get the time and will always stay an “undercover” academic – I like to do research in my field of study (human resources) and entrepreneur (own two businesses apart from my day job). Yes, I am quite busy. Hehe! I also have numerous qualifications, two degrees and a few diplomas and am thus not an air bubble. Oh, before I forget, I have 3 doggy children, which I adore, love spending time in nature and with my boyfriend.”

Nowadays you get LGBTI Teens coming out of the closet as young as 16 and even younger. Do you perhaps wish you could’ve come out the closet sooner? Do you wish there was someone who could’ve educated you about the LGBTI community sooner?

“I am actually glad I didn’t come out sooner.  This is a big step in one’s life and I waited for the right time and place.  This shouldn’t be a forced effort and you should know yourself 100%.  At the age of 16 I still had a lot of insecurities, so if I came out then, I could’ve messed it up.  It would’ve helped if someone assisted me in the process though, seeing that I wasn’t exposed to homosexuality.”

What have I learnt from Schalk:
* Before making a major decision or taking the plunge, make sure your own life is sorted out first.
* Humour can be used as a way of overcoming a difficult situation and even difficult people.
* Christian Churches have a choice to be Homophobic or not, all it takes is a decision in the right direction.
* Living in the Countryside is what you make of it.

Thank You to Schalk! Was really awesome to get to know this down to Earth Guy.

At least there is hope for someone like me who also lives in the Countryside at the moment. LOL. Eish.

1 Comment

Mr. Gay South Africa™ 2012/13 Finalist: Jodian van Aarde

Mr GSA Finalist 2012/13, SMS GSA7 to 40439 in order to vote for Jodian to be Mr Gay South Africa 2012/2013. R2per sms. Free minutes do not apply. Only 50 sms votes per phone allowed per day. T’s & C’s apply

Name: Jodian Van Aarde
Age: 24
What Job does he do?
Banker by day and a Dancer by night.
Where does he live?
Randburg, Jozi

Jodian captures the Soul of a Coloured person quite beautifully and with no shame. I have had many moments reading jodian’s Blog posts where I would get all sorts of weird stares from other office staff as I was whipping out those LOL’s!

I of course Love your use of Coloured Language, it’s hilarious and downright witty! What would you say to a very conservative person who reads your blog and has objections to your use of Language?

“I go by the rule: ‘You do not have to accept another’s opinions, views or life, however you will respect it” positive connotations though, that being said I need to extend the same courtesy. Thus, if a problem arises because of the linguistics used in my blog then the choice remains that of the individual to stop reading. I profusely reiterate how proud I am of my heritage; the language used is to showcase reality and that I proudly embrace it. If any direct offence was taken, I humbly apologise for that. Writing has become a very evident part in my life, verbosity being the gremlin to everyone’s ear.”

Extract from Jodian’s Blog post “Chicken Livers en n’ Coloured Auntie”:

“I am an individual whom in this day and age still succumbs to the hardships of the real world – as a male of ethnicity and gay as a Jacaranda, baklei ek steeds vir my plek by die werk en gemeenskap. My loop, stem, glimlag en gedrag was altyd na tyd deur ‘n shredder machine gemoer. Thus I don’t deserve it more than anyone else or believe that I am entitled to it, rather that I will push as hard as possible staying true to myself, if that wins it for me then brilliant – it’s what got me as far as being a finalist.”

Jodian’s Struggle to find his place in his community and work reminds me of my own struggle. We all as part of the LGBTI community have our challenges, diverse though, for some it’s a struggle to survive and make ends meet. For others it’s a battle just to stay alive and safe and for some it is to get the same recognition of their rights as others.

Has the idea of keeping a blog well into the future stuck with you?
What do you think can be achieved with writing a blog?

“Continuing with the blog is a very real reality, and can either be a blessing or a curse and I choose the former. Constructive, informative and noted humour will be the continued building evolution blocks. I basically get to say whatever I want, a feeling of freedom I won’t even trade for a pair of designer Slip-On’s.”

Extract from Jodian’s Blog post, “The Good, The Bad and the seriously Coloured”
“My ma het regtig haar gat af gewerk om seker te maak ek shine ook in die straat, maar slegte gedrag het bedoel ek dra weer volgende maand klere van Ackermans af en nie Woolies nie. My pa was ‘n groot ding op hoërskool, en is nog steeds daai “old skool” toppie wat sy bottle Grants geniet en rustig regeer – maar ek wed jou, mors met hom en jy sal dit so regret.”

Jodian, your Partner, Mom and “future Mother in Law” (LOL) were sitting together with us at the Mr Gay SA 2012/13 Gala dinner and Auction. By the looks of it you seem to have a very special bond with your Mom.

How has your Mom contributed to or impacted on your development as a Gay Man?

“I, Jodian van Aarde am audaciously a “Mamma’s Boy”. I am a kaleidoscope of my mother, the sacrifices, blessings, prayers and constant support has become the mixture that is me. We are extremely comfortable with one another; I mean to this day she still asks me about everything happening in my life, even intimacy – that comfort builds trust and a sense of reliability. I love her so much, I know the blow was hard with me being gay – but she has fully supported me. That much love and acceptance builds character. I am a man in my own right, my own struggles and achievements; my parents, family and those close to me have seen me becoming the unique and quirky guy I am today. My mother has been my pillar and to her I am grateful and owe everything; she is the only one I truly want to make proud and my tenacity comes from her. Because she was and still is my superhero, I can stand as a man because of her.”

Beautiful! I think a lot of people in our community have that special bond with their Mothers. Our Mom’s have that unconditional love for us since the day we are born and that never leaves us even when we go jumping, crawling, hopping or skipping out the closet! That intuition of a Mother towards her child is so strong. Even before we told our Mom’s who we really are she already knew long, long ago. Here’s to our MOM’s!

Jodian’s Short Story
I have always seen most things I do and live through as a paradox and hyperbole, one long poem where positive and negative repetition build my story to where it is now.

Luckily for my parents I was an athlete, no interest in Spice Girl shoes or make-up. Growing up between Cape Town and Johannesburg, personal attachments became taboo; it ought to be expected when seven schools and two provinces played table tennis with me.
 I was physically very masculine but a nerd to the core, spent more time on the sport field and library than at home; yet I lived my life in constant avoidance of ridicule, ironic as I was well accepted once my bubble popped. Living on your own since teenage years means your exposed to the world faster, snickers and sneers from the wilfully ignorant, happy as a lark but the outside audience perceives it as being a flamboyant gay person – which is apparently a problem. Ever noticed how others in the LGBTI community judge and discriminate against you, much like those who feel being gay is a sin and this all because you live your life as yourself and not a visage of some imaginary gay super bitch. My problem in the LGBTI community, is that we don’t support one another enough but we expect acceptance from everyone else. I don’t walk around with a halo, had my moments but it really hurts being rejected.
Graduating and turning 21 were two intense times, as those close to me were profusely proud and wholesome acceptance became a reality – when you’re considered educated, an adult and not just the gay son.
Proudly a mommy’s boy I walk the title like Naomi Campbell at her best – she had done so much for me, no worries because super mom is there. My entourage: Best friend & Bro’s, Venda Princess, Indian Aunty, Kin Gee and tons more, no names mentioned but a pseudo for each of my loved ones.

Being gay should be your blessing, I lost part of my dreams due to fear of rejection – so follow your heart and live free. Poke, Deuces”

What does “Poke, Deuces” mean at the end of each of your posts?

“Poke = Get your attention, and Deuces= Respect. So it’s like saying: “Hey world, Work that respect.”

So this I think is Jodian’s signature of respect. He is expressing his individuality and showing the original being he is meant to be. In the “cookie-cutter” society we live in it is quite refreshing to know that there are people out there who want to show the world who and what they are and not be afraid to do it.

Jodian, I am now very curious, what dreams did you “lose” as a result of fearing rejection? What can you suggest be done about the lack of support towards each other in the LGBTI community? (I do tend to agree with you, not everyone is supportive)

“The arts, specifically dance was and remains deeply embedded. I say lose, because I felt I lost a part of myself by not full heartedly pursuing it from the start. I was afraid I would be perceived as gay, obstinate towards my parent’s goals for me and as naïve. The fear surmounted my time in the arts temporarily, but it also grew me, I achieved in the financial industry. I came to a point where I felt, enough! I actually left my growing corporate career and danced full-time, I went on to winning a Hip Hop championship, appearing in commercials and the Bok Jive music video – I still yearn to make it too a full stage production, all in due course.
I felt I deserved that opportunity and if the chance arose I would not change anything – because that would mean changing the person I am; forgetting principles learnt and I might not be the fuzzy ball of structured insanity those around me have come to know. Pessimism comes standard in life; those who rely on it only become a stepping stone for the achievers. I believe that; if I and those who share my sentiments continue to excel, respect and live not just survive, then those unsupportive and corrosive cliques and communities will end up placing admiration and support ahead of anything else.”

Most importantly what did you learn about yourself, Jodian, now in the time you have been involved with Mr. GSA?

“For one, I didn’t know I could actually write and people would be interested in what I had to say. My confidence levels shot through the roof couldn’t imagine my body being exposed for public interrogation as it has been – I can imagine my grandmothers face seeing me in revealing swimwear. Honestly, participating in Mr GSA has shown me how little I actually did for the LGBTI community; life is not always about you and your insecurities and battles. People are being bullied, hurt, murdered out there and I’m worrying about a pimple – I haven’t felt more selfish and helpless ever! There is so much to do and help with – I should be slapped with a cheap push-up bra for saying: “I’m bored.” However, the exposure, charity and everything else we partake in has evolved me so much that there is a visible difference. I love that those, who were very uneducated about the LGBTI community grew with me, even my father has started showing signs of ceasing gay ignorance hibernation. I am so much stronger and resilient than I thought I was, more confident, sentimental and ambitious. I have met amazing individuals who I would normally have passed in everyday life because I’m apprehensive of uncontrolled situations; I embrace it now.”

What I have learnt from Jodian:
* Never apologise for who you are especially when you are yourself.
* No matter who or what family is important.
* By being yourself you remain an original.
* If I want to pursue a dream then I mustn’t be too scared of the sacrifices I need to make for it.

If you want to know more about our “Gay as a Jacaranda” friend Jodian, you can take a look at his great blog here: www.mrgsafinalist.co.za/jodian

Thank You to Jodian! I seriously hope he keeps on writing as he creates some profoundly entertaining blogs!

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Mr. Gay South Africa™ 2012/13 Finalist: Steve Williams

Please vote for Steve to be Mr. Gay South Africa™ 2012/13
SMS the code GSA11 to 40439
Each sms costs R2. T’s & C’s apply, free minutes do not apply.

Name: Steve Williams
Age: 37
What work does he do?
Internal Audit Manager in the banking industry.
Where does he live?
Joburg but originally from Western Cape.

Asking the Questions for my Blog post for Steve has been a real roller-coaster ride of emotional ups and downs but it was worth it. Steve is from an older Generation of Gay men and has a lot of wisdom to share with us from his experiences as a Gay Man.

Do you think that being older than the other contestants and having more years in the LGBTI community provide you with a competitive edge?

“I hope so. I am 37. with the second oldest candidate being 28.
Being older, I have been through a lot in my life (personally and within the community) – I had my heart broken a few times; I went through my own coming out experience as well as friends’ experiences; I was retrenched and was unemployed for a few months; and I had deaths in the family, mostly due to cancer (that is one of the reasons why my charity is CANSA). I believe this provides me with the necessary understanding and knowledge of many situations people are faced with. By drawing from these experiences, I believe that I can help people and also be a role model – for people both inside and outside the LGBTI community. I am more mature and level-headed than I was many years ago, therefore I believe I am in the right space to take on the responsibilities of Mr. GSA.”

If you win the Mr Gay SA Contest is there a specific issue in the LGBTI community that you want to “tackle” which would need the kind of influence of the Mr. Gay SA title?

“Currently we still experience numerous cases of bullying, discrimination and homophobic hate crimes, such as corrective rape and murders. I believe that the root cause of this is the ignorance and lack of knowledge of what a gay person really is. This results in a general misconception and negative perception of what or who gay people are.

We are told by some people that being Gay is “unAfrican”. We are told that it is “unnatural” for a woman to love another woman, for a man to love another man. We are told that we can choose our sexual orientation and lifestyle. We are told that we can “fix” the “problem” by making a decision to change.

The reality is that no person has a choice about his or her sexual orientation, just like no one has a choice as to how tall one is or the colour of one’s eyes.

Unfortunately, ignorance and lack of knowledge manifests in the bullying of LGBTI members, various forms of discrimination and hate crimes against our community. In order for us to resolve these problems and issues, we need to address the root cause.

I believe that the title of Mr. GSA provides one with the necessary platform to be heard. When you stand up to speak, people will listen. Others will also learn from your actions and examples. I want to use this opportunity to educate others about our community.

This platform will allow me to break down the misconceptions; that gay people come in all shapes and sizes, in all attitudes and outlooks; in all characters. I want to show them that we have a diverse community and that we should not be stereo-typed. In other words Gay men and Lesbian women are just like the world in general. There is just one difference – only one difference. We have a different sexual preference.

This will change the way others react to our community and bring forth greater acceptance.”

I decided to Go really “Oprah” on Steve with what would seem like a very personal question but he took on the challenge quite well:

This might be a very uncomfortable question but how has being retrenched and losing loved ones to Cancer changed your outlook on life? How did it change you, if at all?

“It is very difficult to know yourself when all is going well. I believe that one gets to know yourself a lot better when you experience your darker moments. When you are retrenched and not able to find other employment, you start questioning yourself. You question your abilities. I was there. Once I got to the point where I was questioning and doubting myself, it was more difficult for me to do something about my circumstances. I just did not feel like looking for a way out, as I started believing that there was no way out. What made things worse for me, was the fact that I still had payments to make for my car and bond, I still had to buy food. For the first few moths it was not a big issue for me, but after a few months of not receiving a paycheck, this was another big issue pulling me down. After a while I did not go out anymore or even wanted to see my friends. I really closed myself off. I was heading straight for depression. There were days when I did not know how much more I was able to take.

My turning point was when I realised that I was not the problem, but that I was looking for a solution in the wrong place. I was living in Cape Town at the time (where I grew up) and thought I would never leave the city. I decided that I had to find a job elsewhere. I applied for a position in Johannesburg and was successful. I realised that the universe (and God) was pushing me in the direction and towards the place I needed to be. Since moving here, I have grown so much. What I have learned from this is that I am much stronger than I thought I was. It has made me realise, that no matter what our circumstances, we can do something about it – but it starts with a conscious decision to make the change. I have learned that doubt is the absence of trust – and that I should always trust, rather than doubt, myself and God.

It is never easy losing loved ones in any way. The problem with cancer is the lack of knowledge, causing very late detection. The earlier you detect the cancer, the greater the chances of survival. In all our cases it was detected late and my loved ones (grandparents and sister-in-law) were reduced to shells of the former people they were. It was very difficult to see them suffer, to see them shrink away. You also notice the physical changes due to the treatments – hair loss and swollen face to mention a few. It is not easy having to carry them around or feed them, as they are not capable of doing these things on their own. What broke my heart was that my nephew never really knew his mother, as he was 4 months old when she was diagnosed, and 3 years old when she passed away.

But through all of the sadness, we had to do our best to stay positive and hope for the best result. Not only for our dear ones that were ill, but also for each other. This was not always easy, as it is so easy to become despondent when things do not turn out the way you want to. In the end it was better to see them go, as I knew that their pain and suffering came to an end.

All of this has also taught me acceptance – knowing that no matter what, everything is and will be just fine!”

Steve’s answer really touched me to the core. Tears rolled down my face as I read it. Many people, myself included, can relate to his story about losing someone close and facing hardships.

Ok so Kleenex Aside, runny Mascara cleaned and powdered up again I thought let’s have some fun and ask Steve about age and looking good, I mean he really does look good and has the body to prove it!

How on Earth do you manage to look so good for your age? What’s the secret? Exercise, Eating healthy, having a great outlook, yeah I get that but please tell me something interesting about staying young?

“Like most things in life, it is really about your attitude. My attitude is to have a balanced life.

I do have a healthy diet and exercise regularly. But not only do I look after my body, I look after my spirit and my mind too. And I surround myself with positive people – as negative people and energy can break you down, mentally and eventually physically. And I try to laugh as much as possible!

See, by just having a positive outlook makes someone younger at heart even look younger.”

Talking about looking younger I decided to get really mischievous and ask Steve if he ever had “work” done on himself. You know, a nip here and a tuck there. Steve assured me that he has never had any plastic Surgery done on himself and is shocked when he sees young 20 somethings having their First Botox.

In any case having the chemical equivalent of a neurotoxin injected into your skin really loses it’s appeal once you find out what it does: It paralyses your face. Hence the reason why so many “older” Hollywood stars seem to be suffering from that “frozen Face” Syndrome.

In the LGBTI Community and even more so with Gay men out there the quest for staying young is an ever increasing dilemma. You get some people who have had so much Plastic Surgery that when they smile their toes wiggle. What do you think about ageing gracefully (in appearance)? Where do you think the line between age appropriate and staying young begins and ends? What would you for instance say to someone like a Bold and the Beautiful or Days of our Lives Soap Star who doesn’t look much older than when they started out 20 years ago?

“I agree that the community, especially gay men, are obsessed with perfection, youth and looking good. However, this is not limited or unique to our community. We find it everywhere.

When you page through fashion magazines, you will struggle to find a wrinkle or grey hair in any of the photos, as they are usually photo shopped to death. All the models have porcelain smooth skin, without any pores or imperfections. Even the models in fitness magazines train and plan specifically for the day of the photo shoot. They dehydrate their bodies in order to appear as trim and toned as possible. This unfortunately creates an incorrect image of what people look like every day.

This is why there are so many people suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, bulimia, anorexia and other disorders. They strive to look like the models in the magazines, without realising that many of the models, if not all of them, do not look exactly like they do in the magazines.

This is why we see so many people going for plastic surgery to improve themselves. We see men going for calf and pectoral implants, women having breast enhancement surgery and people going for face lift surgery as if they were going to the supermarket to buy milk.

I believe that this crazy search for perfection is the cause of so many people’s unhappiness and society’s superficiality. On a daily basis we are judged on our appearance and sometimes find it difficult to fit in with certain groups, as we do not look a certain way. That is why people look towards “fixing” or improving the exterior in an attempt to obtain other’s approval and to fit in.

But what they do not realise, is that no amount of surgery will ever be able to take away their insecurities that caused them to have the surgery in the first place. Because wherever we look, there will always be someone else that is younger, has bigger or more defined muscles or a better smile. This is why so many of them go back for multiple surgeries, as they continue to compare themselves to others and, according to their measures, fall short.

What people fail to realise, is that we should rather judge people by their values and what they stand for, rather than the exterior. In this way, people will be able to connect to one another on a more meaningful level and inter-personal relationships will be less superficial.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that plastic surgery serves a purpose. It can be used for example to correct instances where people are born with a cleft lip or to improve the lives of people suffering from burn wounds. It should however not be used to fuel the fire of vanity.

I also believe that when you look good, you feel better about yourself. I do however believe that looking and feeling good should rather be achieved by a balanced lifestyle. One should not only look after your body, but also your mind and spirit. It is only when those three aspects of your life are balanced, that you truly can be happy.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with ageing gracefully. When you take care of your body by exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, looking after your skin and making sure that you sleep enough, you can achieve this. Then there is also nothing wrong in taking pride with what you have received through hard work. The secret though, is to realise when your age has caught up with you and when your clothing for example does not suit you anymore. To see “mutton dressed as lamb” might be hilarious, but not when you are sheep on display.

To those soap stars that have not aged in 20 years I would say “get real”. No-one is fooled by the amount of plastic surgery that they have had. Nobody wants to be more plastic and artificial than human.

Everybody is meant to age, it is natural. “Our lines show that we’ve lived. If he doesn’t love you when you look like a map, tell him to hit the road!” (From the movie Connie and Carla)”

So there you have it Ladies and Queers! I agree with Steve it all boils down to being comfortable in your own skin.

What I learnt from Steve:
*  You learn the most about yourself when you go through the darkest times in your life.
*  Surround myself with positive people.
*  A positive attitude helps me to stay young.
*  If I want to do Plastic Surgery then it must be for the right reasons and not because I have insecurities about myself.
*  No matter what happens, everything will be okay, eventually.

You can Get To read more Wisdom on Steve’s Blog here:  http://mrgsafinalist.co.za/steve/

A big Thank You to Steve! I myself have learnt a lot from him. I really appreciate the fact that he was willing to open up his life with such honesty.

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Going Back to our Pride Roots

Going Back to our Pride Roots is an African affair.

As part of a younger generation of LGBTI people I have always
thought that Joburg Pride is more like a Party with a Parade. Wrong.

People Dress up in as most detailed, outrageous and colourful outfits
as possible or dress down into wearing barely a shoestring, even if
certain people have pimples on their bums from over shaving the night
before in an attempt to get that “silky smooth porn star” look. Razor 1
Moffie 0. Game Over!

Over the years and much to my Naïve amazement I have discovered that
LGBTI Pride is actually much much more a Protest March for our rights
and not just a celebration.

Some Joburg Pride History
Have you heard of a Guy by the name of Simon Nkoli? If it wasn’t for this Pride fiasco I would only have discovered this fantastic and brave person much later.

Simon Tseko Nkoli was an anti-apartheid, Gay rights and AIDS activist in South Africa.

Nkoli became a youth activist against apartheid, with the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) and with the then United Democratic Front.

1983 he joined the mainly white Gay Association of South Africa (GASA) and formed the Saturday Group, the first black Gay group in Africa.

1984 he was arrested and faced the death penalty for treason with twenty-one other political leaders in the Delmas Treason Trial. This group with the likes of Popo Molefe and Patrick “Terror” Lekota would become known as the Delmas 22. While in prison he came out to his fellow inmates in a heated discussion on Homosexuality. In so doing he helped change the attitude of the African National Congress (ANC) to gay rights. He was acquitted and released from prison in 1988.

After getting out of prison Simon founded the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand or GLOW in 1988 which was non-racial. It was activists from GLOW who organised the first Gay and Lesbian Pride MARCH in 1990 with only 800 brave people.

Nkoli died on the eve of World Aids Day in 1998 and only months after the Johannesburg High Court ruled that the common-law crimes of sodomy and “commission of an unnatural sexual act”, as well as Section 20A of the Sexual Offences Act, were unconstitutional.

It is reading about guys like the late Simon Nkoli that has reminded me to get off my @$$ and do something for our community even if it means having a blog and being part of a organisation.

What would Simon Nkoli say about Joburg Pride as it is now? Why do so many people not know about him?

In one of Simon’s Prison letters I Found in the Booklet “Till the time of Trial” published by GALA it read:

“…I will do whatever I can to improve the standard of communication between gays of all races…”

Profound. Isn’t this one of the challenges we sit with in our community?

I think Joburg Pride should be one of the events where activists and activism is nurtured. Although it is our own responsibility to do our homework into our Pink Heritage isn’t it also the Joburg Pride organisation’s duty to remind us of what we have achieved so far? Most importantly, what we still need to accomplish? Isn’t it also the duty of Joburg Pride to instil a culture of activism in us? Wits University’s Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) and a few other NGO’s can, with all due respect, only do so much. Joburg Pride reaches thousands of people in just one day compared to years of work done by a NGO to reach the same amount of people.

People like to forget the past because in SA it was an ugly one BUT we need to be reminded of where we come from so that we can know where we are going to. At Pride the next step only means going to the most talked about after-party. For the next year if I have to hear the word “VVVIP” coming out of someone’s mouth again, then my next Pride After Party will be at home with 2 Smirnoff Spins! LOL

So what is wrong with LGBTI Prides in SA?

– They are Too Commercialised i.e. a money making racket.

– The events are “depoliticised” and very little genuine activism is
engaged with.

– People who are new to Pride think it is just a Party and do not
realise the more serious side of the event.

– Lack of communication between organisers, NGO’s and the
greater public on all sides.

Don’t look now Honeys but we have been warned long ago about the
impending disaster that looms as a result of the “depoliticisation”
and commercialisation of LGBTI Pride. (Gosh that dictionary was not as
tasty as I thought no matter how much All Gold Tomato sauce you throw on it!)

Reigning Mr Gay South Africa, Lance Weyer, who himself is a politician and activist posted a blog on the website
www.queerlife.co.za at the beginning of 2012 and asked the question “WHY PRIDE?”

http://www.queerlife.co.za/test/iqueer-columns/lanceweyer/7461-why-pride.html

In a recent Debate on LGBTI Advocacy and awareness organisation
GLIBIT’s Facebook Group Lance commented:

“That said though, I do think 1 in 9 should have first approached the
JHB organisers, and then only if unsuccessful resort to “hi-jack” type
of tactics. All too often the SA LGBTI community fight with each other
and don’t work together. It’s very sad and has caused many LGBTI
activists to give up.”

This I can agree with 100%.
It has been said over and over, WE as the LGBTI people are our OWN worst enemy.

Security
Apparently Cars at Pride were smashed by Anti-LGBTI protesters. This
causes great concern for security.

Just one of the tweets I found:

“@musicflyG: Anti-gay protestors smashing up random cars @ #JHBPride
…seriously WTF!?!”

What one would like to see at Joburg Pride:

– Even Better Security

– Proper Crowd Management Especially on the Pride March and with the
Festival Venue itself.

Joburg Pride’s attendance number’s have increased hectically just over
the past few years and proper attention needs to be given to these
issues.

The Joburg Pride Petition
The Advocacy and Awareness Organisation GLIBIT has launched a petition, “Calling for Change at the Joburg Pride Organisation”

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Call_for_change_at_the_Joburg_Pride_Organisation/

By carefully watching people’s reactions to this petition It seems the LGBTI community have divided themselves along racial lines into factions or Camp “camps”. On the one side those supporting the Joburg Pride Board and the other side those who support the 1in9ers.

Even the student organisation “LoudEnuf” at the University of the Western Cape under the guidance of the Gender Equity Unit have announced that they support 1in9 in their efforts with the following statement:

“LoudEnuf UWC supports the One in Nine Campaign

A Campaign that sought to disrupt the 2012 Joburg Pride parade to demand one minute of silence to remember those members of the LGBTI community who have been murdered because of their sexual orientation and gender expression.

Aluta Continua! Let the struggle continue!”

So it seems that whoever signs the petition are in support of the 1in9 Campaign although some people were against the way 1in9 had conducted their Protest.

Like I have said to Alan Edwards, Honourable Secretary of the ECGLA, this petition is more like an experiment. If many people sign the petition then it means that they support the fact that the Joburg Pride organisation and it’s Board needs better representation and that the actions of those board members involved with the 1in9 incident were uncalled for.

If few people signed the petition, well then that means that the Pride Board is fine as it is and that it was okay for Pride Board members to push their Black sisters around like they did (nnnot!).

Few people can deny being against 1in9 as the amount of people who have signed the petition has proven this point. In a recent report from Avaaz 625 people had viewed the petition and only 75 people had signed it. I rest my case (almost).

Some people would maybe go as far as saying that the petition comes out of the 1in9 Camp. Sorry, Wrong. It was my idea. What people don’t know is that 1in9 campaigners are not even talking to me. Pumla Gqola who is a staunch 1in9 campaign supporter subsequently blocked me on twitter after attempting a ‘twitterview’ with her in which I had mentioned Race as a factor which may have created more support for 1in9. Ouch.

Might People who are identified as having signed the petition just piss the Pride Board off? Nobody would mess with the Pride board by signing a petition which might cause possible inconvenience for them now would they? I mean the Pride Board decides who performs on the main stages, they decide who gets to sell what at the stalls in the community village or even to have a stall in the first place, they get to decide who can have a float at the Pride March. Every major LGBTI organisation, business, entertainers etc want a piece of that Pride Pie even if it’s just for advertising purposes. Decisions all made by a small group of 7 people? Wow, so much….Power.

Power given to them by the LGBTI community. Why must people be so scared of the Pride board? This small group is supposed to represent each and every one of us. Despite Joburg Pride being a registered organisation
Do they own the Queer community? No.
One more question, if people weren’t unhappy about not having their concerns represented then why did a group like 1in9 have to take such brave and extreme measures in the first place?

The Pink Rand
Big Sponsors obviously do not say much about this issue as they have been cashing in on lucrative advertising and marketing deals. The Pink Rand seems to be the one with the biggest voice here.
In fact the biggest role players in the Queer community are also mostly silent. Are they scared that they too may not have their spot on the Pride Stage next year? Silence is Golden or in this case, little pink Plastic tokens!

In my previous blog post I had written about the racial divide. It seems that on one side the whiteys support the Pride Board as they are mostly white and with 1in9 Campaigners black people support them because well, they are mostly Black or Coloured. So is this what it also boils down to? Support our same-colour brothers and sisters instead of the cause?

It gets complicated
Once again let’s call up the Joburg Pride Board Members AKA “The Magnificent Seven” who have recently received a baptism of Media fire:

Tanya Harford (Chairperson)
Fulvio de Stefanis
Samantha Durkin
Thami Kotlolo
Kerry McMaster
Jenni Green
Josef Talotta

By now, you must have realised something here? Most of the Joburg Pride Board
Members are White. No wonder 1in9 is accusing the Pride organisation
of being racist because it’s leadership doesn’t represent the
diversity of our Rainbow LGBTI Nation. Also You can’t just have the L and G
of LGBTI represented here.

Don’t you think it’s time the Pride Board got a little bit more
inclusive with more representation through transformation?

There is a much deeper level to this whole saga though:
If people do change their minds and decide to sign the petition then maybe they think the current pride board will be dissolved. That is NOT the intention of the Pride petition.

1in9 campaigners have made it no secret that they would like to take Joburg Pride Back to the City Centre where it was originally held. The current Pride Board has prevented this from happening.

According to feedback I’ve received from the Queer public the perception is that if Joburg pride is Run by activists then the Pride event may turn out a flop and that there may even be huge security concerns as Pride may once again be held in the city center which is far more dodgy now than in 1990.

So if people say activists aren’t necessarily good event organisers then in the same breath are event organisers good activists? Does an event organiser know how to properly highlight a concern or issue in the public eye like an activist can do? So what is needed here is balance, a bit of both. Professional event organising and proper, genuine activism.

So What is the whole deal with the petition then?

The petition serves to highlight concerns to the Joburg Pride Board to bring about the necessary changes so that activists are more involved and that there is better representation.
Although some may disagree, the intention of the petition was also to improve matters for the Pride Board’s activism dilemma and hopefully relieve underlying tensions in especially the Black LGBTI community.

Why must as many people as possible sign the petition?

If many people sign the petition then it obviously means that many people want change. Duh.

A possible solution
In my Opinion when comparing Joburg Pride with Soweto Pride there
needs to be a balance between activism and celebration, Parade and
March, Party and Protest Gathering.

For 1in9 to call for a full boycott of Joburg Pride is just silly and
will serve to sabotage an already successful event.

NGO involvement
Samantha Durkin:
“Every year we get tons of people who say they could do it better and
when we get together to organise it again, all these people disappear
and we don’t hear from them again. NGO’s are free to get in touch with
us, to engage, to get involved. Very few do…”

I do not think it’s just the responsibility of NGO’s to contact Joburg
Pride but also Joburg Pride who needs to contact NGO’s and focus on
building better partnerships with all NGO’s. By building better
partnerships Joburg Pride will be able to recognise concerns better.
An Annual General Meeting alone just doesn’t cut it anymore.

After the petition has been signed what can then be proposed?:

PLAN A – That the Pride Board expands to include more members and specifically that these members are activists and representatives from various organisations. Because the Pride Board cannot be too big, activists can be rotated each year to give other organisations a chance and most importantly to have a voice. To make each activist’s contribution to the Board even more valuable they must have previous experience of event organising or any aspect of event organising as such.

PLAN B – A committee of activists who work together with the Pride board could help but then there could be too much ‘apartheid’ and suspicion of each other’s activities. Nah, go with Plan A!

The activist Mark Heywood, who is the Executive Director of SECTION27 and an Executive member of the Treatment Action Campaign, wrote in his article in the DailyMaverick.co.za that “we need to demonstrate solidarity with the poor. But we also need solidarity within the gay community – as diverse as it may be.”

Link to the article:
http://dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2012-10-23-go-back-to-the-townships-the-shame-of-gay-south-africa

What do I take away from this?
At the next Joburg Pride I am going to be a proper activist and throw that racial division box away. Soweto Pride will be getting far more support from me! The townships are our new frontier in the struggle to have our rights recognised.

Regardless of whether any more people sign the petition, for now I would just like to sit and reflect on these matters as a new friend of mine has advised me, although not for long. Sooner or later change is required, Homophobes fear it, why must we fear it?

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Joburg Pride 2012. No Winners here.

On 06 October 2012 a small group of Lesbians and Gender Non-conforming people from the Campaign “1in9” brought 20 000 Pride-goers to an
abrupt halt (sort of) in what will go down in SA LGBTI history as the group who “disrupted” the 22nd annual Joburg Pride.

I thought I could add my 5c and also get onto the Bandwagon for the whole 1in9 Campaign fiasco that happened.

Let me state CLEARLY from the beginning of this blog post that I choose nobody’s side as I think that both parties were at fault.

I am not going to try to describe exactly what happened as there are many sides to a story and then there is the TRUTH.

In any case this incident has created a storm on Social Networks; Radio; Print and gosh even on TV! All for the wrong reasons and this has caused much
embarrassment for the SA LGBTI community.

Below, however is a unedited video of what happened:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ugK3yazLwQ
and the E-News coverage – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYjp-xbdFS0

So now we have two sides of this whole Joburg Pride incident, both who may think they were right to do what they did.

Watching these two groups perform is like being at a Boxing Match.  Hope you brought your Popcorn and 3D glasses! :

Lesbians, Drags and Gentleboys in the one corner we have “The 1in9 Campaigners”!

So who exactly are these people from the 1in9 Campaign?

Statement from 1in9 Campaign’s Website

www.oneinnine.org.za

“The One in Nine Campaign was
established in February 2006 at the start of the rape trial of Jacob
Zuma, to ensure the expression of solidarity with the woman in that
trial as well as other women who speak out about rape and sexual
violence. The Medical Research Council (MRC) study on sexual violence
(2002) indicated that only one out of every nine rape survivors report
the attack to the police. This statistic prompted the name: “One In
Nine”.

“Over the past five years the
Campaign has grown as a coalition now comprising of 25 organisations
and individual members around South Africa. The Campaign uses multiple
entry points to advocate social change and maintains a strong, united
focus of putting women’s rights as a priority on the national
political agenda. ”

Below is a statement on Facebook for 1in9 Campaign by Ishtar
Lakhani on what they thought was going on:
https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10151060982411430

It seems to me that 1in9 tried to attempt exactly the same moment of silence for our fallen LGBTI People held at Soweto Pride a week earlier (mostly organised by FEW empowerment, a women’s rights advocacy organisation working with Lesbian and Transgender people).

The difference between the attempt at a moment of silence at Soweto Pride and the attempt at Joburg Pride is that everybody knew what would happen and what to expect at Soweto Pride.

1in9 Campaigners have argued on Radio that they were very visible with their Purple T-shirts and Banners and “did not jump out from behind the buildings” as was accused of them.  Thing is, very few people knew who they were except for maybe the odd seasoned feminist activist. 1in9 Campaign members think themselves to be so well-known that everybody would know at Pride who they were.

Sorry, assumptions are the Mother of all F-ups.

I must admit that I didn’t really know a lot about the 1in9 campaign as I am also an activist who is still learning and growing into her activism role.

One Question:

How can one hold a “impromptu” moment of silence when 20000 people are in front of you and trying to push forward with the Pride
March? Plus having a banner with the dubious slogan: “No Cause for Celebration” as well as T-shirts that do not really mention the LGBTI cause specifically just adds fuel to the confusion fire.

According to the Buzz on Twitter, Pride goers thought that 1in9 activists were Anti-LGBTI protesters and were trying to stop the march!

“@Ed_theHead: @LindiweMl @NathanAdams1 @GayMenSA you will always get
the frakking homophobes who will never accept and will disrupt”

“@LindiweMl @NathanAdams1 The attempt of pride still going ahead in
spite of those ante gay shits makes it a success”

(Tweets from @GayMenSA)

1in9 had made many attempts to further disrupt the Pride March but with very little success as confused Pride goers just kept on walking right past (in some cases right over) their demonstration. Even the poor old Dummies they brought along were in on the action! This is one of the main concerns: They had
pissed off way too many Pride-goers to properly get their message across.

1in9 wanted to highlight challenges faced not just by township people but all LGBTI people in South Africa. There is no problem with that
BUT it is the WAY things were done that led to the disaster. It seems that the pamphlets that 1in9 handed out were about the only clear indication of their purpose.

“Gay Pride is political” by DipikaNathon Thought leader: www.thoughtleader.co.za/dipikanath/2012/10/10/gay-pride/

1in9 could have utilised their moment of silence to the maximum by using simple Marketing to get their message out there.

Suggested Things that 1in9 could have done better:

– Communicate with Joburg Pride Board

– Market their “Moment of Silence” to the greater LGBTI Public

There is a Snag:

– The problem is that 1in9 is also campaigning against the Joburg Pride itself (if not all Prides) for losing its political edge and becoming way too commercial.

Now I think maybe 1in9 couldn’t exactly tell the Joburg Pride Board or the greater public what they were planning as they may have faced being banned from the March due to the nature of their cause. 1in9 is against Joburg Pride itself, what it has become and the organisers who stand behind it.

comments I found by “ethekwinigirl” *:

“The kind of protest that One in Nine do is precisely NOT to be a part
of the march or to “approach Pride”. They plan to shock. They are
activists. It is very easy to stop 20 000 people. I have been in much
bigger marches. All the organisers needed to do was to call for a
minute’s silence; to put their egos away and realise that there is
more to Pride than Party.”

So what if 1in9 had actually put something on their banners like this?:

“We are 1in9 Campaign for the LGBTI people, let’s have a minute of
silence for our fallen brothers and sisters.”

Hmmmm *Scratches head in thought*

So basically, regardless of when 1in9 decided to show up their message and intentions had to be communicated far more clearly. Finish en Klaar.

Joburg Pride Board has suggested that 1in9 could’ve announced their moment of silence from the Festival stage like the moment of silence
for victims of corrective rape held at the previous year’s Joburg Pride event. 1in9 refuses to accept such a notion, their “signature” move is to
disrupt. By disrupting they got maximum effect and as a result a lot of attention for it which makes their campaign quite effective. Let us not forget, NGO’s are big business in SA even if they do not run for a profit.  People working for NGO’s still have salaries that need to get paid so the more attention an organisation gets the more funding.

1in9 have pulled off similar “disruption” stunts at other protest events like the Women’s Day celebration March. Same Banners, same tactics.

This whole incident is however a blessing in disguise for 1in9 as they have received unprecedented media and public attention as well as
influence for their organisation. So one would think: wasn’t this a publicity stunt? I mean Paris and Mizz Kardashian make sex-tapes,
Britney swallows someone’s spunk and Lady GaGa wears fake meat.  Everybody’s doing something outrageous for attention. So why not stop
20 000 angry LGBTI people in their tracks?

When Violence had erupted between the Pride Board Members, 1in9ers and LGBTI community members, 1in9 was by no means innocent as they had
retaliated to violent advances and even tried to gang up on people. I thought that 1in9 was against violence?

When I told my one Work Colleague about the whole Pride incident she asked me something profound:

“Aren’t you guys supposed to stand together?”

My point exactly.
AAAND in the Other Corner we have “The Magnificent 7” from The Joburg Pride Board!

Joburg Pride’s response to the One in Nine protest:

http://www.queerlife.co.za/test/gay-opinions/31-opinions/8083-joburg-pride-responds-to-protest.html

Statement extract:
“..One in Nine Campaign, had not attempted any communication with
Joburg Pride prior to the parade. This organisation subsequently
admitted that they made no attempt to contact Joburg Pride and planned
for the first point of contact to be on the road.”

Let’s think for a minute about what the Pride Board members’ first thoughts could have been when they saw the unidentifiable activists
lying in the road blocking the Pride march: that they were homophobes.  We live in such a violent society and I am not surprised that both the
Pride Board members and activists reacted violently although in no way does it justify the use of violence.

The reactions of Pride Management and Pride goers themselves were unacceptable regardless as the Pride March was supposed to be a
peaceful one. What made things even more worse was the incident of a motorbike marshal head-butting one of the
protestors. Joburg Pride board has apologised profusely for this but the emotional and physical pain still remains for the protester who
got assaulted.

Shouldn’t Joburg Pride start a new tradition? To observe a minute’s silence at the start of the March for all the LGBTI people killed?
What if Tanya Harford had decided to lie down in solidarity with her African sisters?

It’s too late to answer those questions now.

The Racial Divide
This whole incident caused racial tensions as well and has actually served to divide the LGBTI community even further.

Samantha Durkin, one of the Joburg Pride Board members, has highlighted the fact that more than half of the Pride march was
non-white. What I have noted and probably a lot of other people as well is that there are many African people who
arrive at the Pride festivities AFTER the march and so this phenomenon has partly been responsible for the increasing numbers of people attending Joburg
Pride each year.

My questions are as follows:

Is every white person attending Pride a racist?
Will there ever be a Joburg Pride where there aren’t any racists at all?

One cannot expect Joburg Pride to always be Racist free like sugar free
or fat free. When you look at the “fine print” there is usually
somebody hiding something.

The Joburg Pride Board has rejected any claims that any of them had made racial slurs.  The Racist and very hurtful remarks made by certain Pride goers however were uncalled for and made the situation worse. Comments were made in the line of: “Can’t they just go back to the townships?” as if to say black people have no Place at LGBTI Pride.

1in9 Campaigners have gone as far as complaining on Facebook and Radio that the fence surrounding the festival area is a symbolic and
physical “racial barrier” which divides the black people in Zoo Lake picnic area from the whites in the festival venue. Hard to believe, we all know that everybody mingles with everyone at the Festival venue.

The Festival venue it seems is just becoming too small for everyone to get in.
Alright, get a bigger venue? What if we move Joburg Pride Back to the City Centre where it was originally held? The difference between then and now is that of Safety. Personally I myself wouldn’t mind having the March in the city centre but if you got your “street education” in Jozi you wouldn’t set foot in that dangerous place as it is a humdrum of criminal activity.

A very reliable source who calls himself the “Gay Observer” has revealed some interesting info regarding 1in9:

“The driving force behind the ’1 in 9′ campaign is a veteran activist
Carrie Shelver – who is white (it is her holding the bullhorn at some
stage in the video).

She is also a past chairperson of Pride herself – in the late 90s and
forced Pride through Hillbrow, and Jhb CBD when the majority of
attendees did not want to go that route, mainly due to safety
concerns. Shelver was also part of the Pride organising committees of
the late nineties and early 2000s who left Pride with huge financial
losses. She is well-known for stirring up racial tensions. Since the
new Pride Board registered a non-profit company in 2007, Pride has
turned around, is financially sound, attended by many more non-whites
as ever before and in the words of Emily Craven in her Master’s thesis, and one of Shelver’s
supporters, “stable” for 6 years – something unknown before. Shelver
was also behind the protests to move the whole of Pride to Soweto.
From that Soweto Pride was born, which is not very well attended (less
than 1000 people).

She has a gripe with the success of the new Pride board and this is
the result thereof. ”

OUCH! So it seems 1in9 might have more than one chip on its shoulder.
I’m now very confused as to what colours the pot and the kettle are?
Maybe the one is Pink and the other Purple?

Was the protest also used by certain people to show the underlying “beef “ they might have with the Joburg Pride Board?

The Reason for Soweto Pride being so small is that it doesn’t nearly have the resources that Joburg Pride has and is a far more political March.

In the end nobody won this showdown. It seems that both parties have knocked each other out. “KO Game Over” like they say in PlayStation Games, but this is real life and far more dangerous.
Despite Joburg Pride Board stating that they fully support 1in9, both they and 1in9 need to get together to “kiss and make up” although that
might be complicated. So let them just make up and not make out! Hopefully both these groups will invite each other to talk things out and ACCEPT that invitation. These two groups need to properly understand and recognise each other’s struggle
and concerns to find the path to reconciliation together.

What I take away from this fiasco:
Black LGBT people are experiencing some of the worst forms of violence, hatred and aggression towards them especially in the
townships and even more so in Rural areas.
Despite White LGBTI people facing homophobia themselves they are in a bit of a comfort zone and need to recognise and support the plight of
our fellow African LGBTI people.
Our African Brothers and Sisters really need our support, protection, compassion, encouragement and most of all LOVE in all its forms.

Change needs to come to the Joburg Pride organisation as it has lost its activism ‘soul’.The 1in9 incident has the greater LGBTI community talking and debating about what Pride as a whole should stand for and who should represent our concerns for these events.

GLIBIT, the advocacy and awareness network for the SA LGBTI community has launched a petition regarding Joburg Pride, take a look here:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Call_for_change_at_the_Joburg_Pride_Organisation/?cLgZcdb

*Taken from Africa is a Country website http://africasacountry.com

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The Mr. Gay SA Gala Dinner, Charity Auction and the Announcement of 2012/13 Finalists!

Carla De Bouchet and Petrus Beets at Mr. Gay SA Auction.
Photos by Ryan Nicolas Lourens

The Mr. Gay South Africa organisation held its annual Gala Dinner & Auction on Friday 5 October at the very African Moyo Restaurant in Melrose Arch, the evening before Joburg Pride. Also happening on this evening was the big reveal of the 2012/13 finalists as they were announced for the very first time.

The charity auction raises the necessary funds to enable the Mr. Gay organisation to host the Grand Finale where the next Mr. Gay SA will be chosen.

Amongst the plethora of sponsors were Globeflight Travel; College SA; Wonderguy; True Religion; Mike Fisher from Michael Game Plan; Protea Hotels; Creation Wine Estate; Wonderguy; Bone Wear; Southern Sun’s Hyde Park Sandton and 54 on Bath; Club Travel; Tempest Car Hire; Nomndeni Lodges; Kat-Man-Doo Gay Male Resort; Top Hat Suit Co.; Jawy Hair Design; Chris Winspear Jewellers; David Gresham Records. So as you can see Mr. Gay SA has some serious sponsors.

Media partners: Gay Pages, Pink Tongue, Mambaonline. There were also
Representatives from SABC, RSG, Rapport and Sondag newspapers.

Mr Gay SA also announced on Facebook earlier: “It gives us great pleasure to announce that Pieter Rossouw of SaEvents.biz just confirmed that OLA and the Fireman’s Ball team will be attending the Mr.GSA Dinner on Friday night as our guests of honour.”
OLA is a DJ phenomenon who comes all the way from Sweden.

38 Lots of items were for sale and amongst the items that were auctioned off were:
weekends away, tickets to concerts, hampers, paintings, decor, hair- and make-up sessions, exotic island holidays, limited edition wines, CD collections, Designer accessories and clothing as well as Mr Gay SA collectors items varying in value from a mere 40 bucks to a whopping 25 000 bucks!

The auctioneer who calls himself “Rolo” Armer and the sweetest Real-Estate agent for Pink Estates is a Realtor for Sothebys International Realty who is both hilarious and very Gay!

My top 5 Auction lots at the Mr. Gay SA Auction:

5. One of the finalists sponsored a one on one dance lesson with him. This Closed at R550.
4. Lady Gaga (Cape Town) or Adam Lambert (CT & Jhb) tickets.
3. “My Wyn” assortment of wines by Jacoline Haasbroek. Just another wine? think again! Jacoline, a beautiful blonde lady who presses her grapes with her own feet and then makes exquisite saught after wines out of them. At a reserve price of R200 per bottle these are definitely no ordinary wines!
2. The most expensive item on auction sponsored by Rani Resorts via Anri Myburgh was a 5-star, 3 night stay for 2 people on Matemo Island off the coast of Pemba, Mozambique in a Luxury Beach chalet. Valued at R25000!
1. My absolute favourite item on auction was a pair of Bonewear undies worn by Lance Weyer to the Mr. Gay World 2012, beautifully framed and signed by Lance with a picture of himself, this was truly a collectors item for me.

Not exactly one of the most expensive items at the auction, it was reserved at R400 and to seal the deal my first ever item I bought at a auction closed for R500. Although I would probably have to eat mielie pap or dry bread and water for a month (just kidding), I felt that this collectors item was worth it as it reminded me of one of the most prolific icons in the SA LGBTI Community, Lance Weyer.

The Announcement of Mr. Gay SA 2012/2013 finalists:
All of the finalists were dressed in Wonderguy mens casualwear with blinged up and bold printed T-shirts and modelled Bone Wear as the other “Dessert” for the evening.

Each Mr. Gay SA contestant has a charity which he has chosen and would become one of the charities for which he would raise funds for if chosen as Mr. Gay SA.

As part of the intro to the new finalists each was given the task to produce a video to tell us more about himself, his work in the LGBTI community, personal philosophy and the charity he had chosen for Mr. Gay SA.

The Finallists in No particular order, of course, as well as some of the beautiful people who were seen!

Event Photos by Ryan Nicolas Lourens

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As part of the Contest the Mr. Gay SA finalists will be having a Breakaway week Safari for 4 days in Dullstroom, Flycatcher castle and the Kruger National Park.

Another one of the tasks assigned to the Mr. Gay SA finalists is the Selling of tickets to the Grand Finale which will be held at the brand new Atterbury Theatre in Lynnwood Bridge, Pretoria on 8 December.
Tickets are also available at Computicket or at the theatre.

This years finalists for the first time in history had a pair of identical twins, Rodney and Brandon, although they look the same these two dashing gentlemen each have something unique to bring to the Mr Gay SA competition, according to Coenie Kukkuk: “It is probably one of the 1st times in any country’s national Mr Gay competition that a pair of identical twins have both made it to the finals.”

You can join the Mr. Gay SA page on Facebook and follow the links posted there to each of the finalists’ blogs:
http://www.facebook.com/MrGSA or you can follow @MrGaySAfrica on Twitter.

People probably thought that I was being terribly rude for tapping away on my phone during the auction when in fact I was blogging the blue smoke out of my Blackberry as I didn’t have a pen to write with.

I decided that I was going to be very “journalisty” by interviewing some of the Mr Gay SA finalists. One moment I thought I was interviewing 3 guys and the next moment the boys had to go on stage to model their Bonewear. 13 hot and sexy finalists all of a sudden started to strip down to their undies. I of course conveniently forgot that I had a table to get back to and was basking in the beauty of such beautiful flesh!
I had asked one of the finalists if they were going to change into their undies but unfortunately they were already wearing them! LOL

Coenie Kukkuk had called out my name as being “A staunch supporter of Mr Gay SA”, as what is suppose to be good etiquette I had to stand up but couldn’t see myself as an equal of these other giants in the LGBTI community.

The most ironic part of this event was that for the first time I could meet both Coenie and Lance face-to-face. I went up to Lance after the auction and told him I was meeting him for the first time but had been fighting for him for months already after some blogging and facebook trolls had decided to attack both Lance and myself and obviously came second best. Moral of the story: do not mess with a Drag Queen especially one with a Aries Star sign.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the auction as I got to meet and chat with some of the members of our greater Pink Family. The food compliments of Moyo was great and as always one got to learn more about our community.

What I took away from this event:
That Mr. Gay SA is far more than just a beauty pageant, it is a force that brings us all together. It remains relevant to us as it is one of the few events that brings some Beauty and Glamour in an otherwise dull and unforgiving “straight” world.

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Soweto Pride 2012 and The Gay Flag of SA Team

Irish, Manika, Carla and Girlfriend!

Soweto Pride Poster and Some Soweto Royalty!

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TWO FRIENDS GETTING TO KNOW THE KASI

My friend Irish, a very good friend of mine came along to ‘cupparize’ me to the Pride festivities. He had never really been to Soweto and I was just getting the update on the place I was also still getting to know where my African Mother Mme Seipati lives in “Deep” Mapetla.

Soweto Pride’s theme for this year was “Enforcing Our Existence: Giving Homophobia the Red Card” and was held close to the Credo Mutwa Cultural Village in Soweto. Activists and Volunteers had been working feverishly to put up posters around Soweto to promote the event which took a lot of effort and determination.

This Pride which was started in 2004 by the NGO FEW (Forum for the Empowerment of Woman) from the onset had more the feel of a Political Protest March than anything else but isn’t that traditionally what Pride is all about? Giving the people out there a strong statement on your rights!

Some of the organisations that were there was the SA Red Cross Society(who have one of their branches in Soweto), FEW Empowerment, Love Life, Gay Flag SA, Passop, Limpopo Pride Organisation, Transgender and Intersex Africa and of course OUT LGBTI well-being.

The Team from Gay Flag of SA’s National tour arrived in their bus to entertain and make the Pride bigger and “Gayer” than even imagined with their colourful Gay SA flag inspired outfits and scattering the place with Gay SA Flags.
Some of the GFSA team members include Henry Bantjez and Eugene Brockman, both the founders of Gay Flag SA the Organisation and Eugene being the designer of the SA Gay Flag. Lola Fine, the Indian Goddess who is one of the most photographed Queens in South Africa. Genevieve Le Coq , now based in Joburg who is a beautiful Drag personality and activist in her own right where she and Monique Walker helped to arrange Joburg protests earlier this year against Homophobia. Other team Memebers were Ivo Leo and winners of the National competition for candidates to go on the tour Leon Erasmus, Odidiva, and Adonis.

Gay Flag of SA, sponsored by Budget Car Rental who are currently on a 5000 km National tour with their very Queer bus supported the March. With their theme “I am African” their. Campaign aims to reconcile Gay Rights with traditionalists.

Earlier this year Marches had been organised throughout SA to protest the Request by Chief Pathekile Holomisa from the traditionalist organisation CONTRALESA and chair of the Constitutional Review committee to have the clause on sexual orientation removed from the Constitution.

A memorandum was handed to parliament and Gay Flag SA took the matter further by arranging a meeting with the ruling ANC party’s Western Cape ANC secretary, Songezo Mjongile, to release a strong statement against Holomisa’s intentions, Homophobia and the recent murder, rape and attacks on our community.

In a statement released by Gay Flag of SA:
“It was the combined hopes of these two organizations that this message would shift public perceptions to mutual acceptance and make it clear that hate crimes and murders will no longer be tolerated
(Even though the ANC was not visible at the event).” So there was NO ANC presence at Soweto Pride.

Safety
One of the First questions Irish had asked me when I had invited him was “I hope we don’t get beat up hey, it’s a township we’re going to”. With a recent attack by a robber who wanted to stab both my man and I with a broken bottle still fresh in my mind I took that step of faith and well, there were no issues.

It seems that despite the Joburg metro Police Department being very inept to show their support for Soweto Pride, the SAPS had stepped in and there was a strong police presence to keep the peace.

Hundreds of people, watched over by the cops, Marched down Mputhi street carrying posters and Cards with slogans like: “Love is a Human Right” and “My Blood Speaks of the Horrors You’ve Done to Me.” A circle was formed in the middle of the road next to a Huge SA Gay Flag and a minute of silence was asked. In a emotional plea to end homophobia, Rape,Violence and discrimination and in dramatic protest fashion, dolls symbolising Lesbians who have been murdered were laid on the road. Gay Flag of SA: “It was an act of bravery and resistance, and a key moment for this community.”

The Pride march ended at the Openheimer park where the Post-Pride festivities started where you could bring your camping chair, picnic basket, booze and buy some food or go through all the stalls for the different LGBTI organisations. If you were about to pass out from clearing out your cooler box the Red Cross was handy to give you First Aid, CPR or some Disaster management if you broke a nail! LOL

Irish who is an absolute fan of RiRi (Rihanna) was thinking of getting a Tattoo just above his knee just like the ‘R’ Rihanna got for herself. Now because he is not one for pain he had to settle for a Henna Tattoo which he got by Raymond the “Henna guy” at one of the Pride Stalls. So if people want to try out a tattoo that is something less permanent and won’t cause embarrassment later, like a goldfish that might end up looking like a dolphin, the Henna tattoo guy will be available at Joburg Pride . In so doing you don’t have to go to a dodgy tattoo parlour where just looking at the tattoo needles could give you a exotic flesh eating disease!

One of the Gay Flag of SA’s entertainers “Electra Lux” (Thabo Gaobuse from Mafikeng ) who is a acapella singer and Dancer impressed the crowds with his awesome moves.
One of my favourite Queens, Foxy Lopez Brown together with her show group “The Dancing Queens” strutted their sexy stuff on stage and goodness can they Dance! Goodness I wish I can split as flat as her but I’m nowhere near as elastic. Foxy is a professional dancer who does corporates. Also to be seen with her Dancing group was Lande, a recording Artist who really knows how to handle her heels! The Lesbian Duo Spilled Pink could also be seen rocking the stage.

Sooo when Irish and I were just about to go home we decided to go and pay Jabulani Mall a visit. As usual peoples’ eyes were popping out their skulls. I discovered to my orgasmic pleasure all the SHOE shops and boy oh boy did we drool over all the reasonably priced colour blocked heels! So Christmas, Guess where I am going shoe shopping? LOL

Irish’s Rihanna Tattoo

Close to Jabulani Mall we happened to stumble into this:

The Soweto Theatre

The Soweto Theatre! I had seen the theatre in magazines but as a designer I was blown away to just be in the presence of a gem of gorgeous architecture! Ok, you’d maybe think: “big deal, pretty building so what?” Well both Irish and I could agree that Soweto is starting to look more like a upmarket town than a “Kasi” (township).

What did I take from this event?
That Soweto Pride needs just as much support and marketing as all the other Prides in SA. I was welcomed as a memeber of the Family with open arms. All Queer people have so much love to give, It’s really time to unlock that Love. Mwah Mwah

Other Links about Soweto Pride on the Web
Joburg Metro Police Accused of Discrimination
http://www.mambaonline.com/article.asp?artid=6900

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“Life in True Colour” Nelson Mandela Bay Pride and Queen of Pride 2012

(C)2012 Karl Schoemaker, all rights reserved — at Work at Play Photography.

(C)2012 Karl Schoemaker, all rights reserved — at Work at Play Photography. http://www.workatplay.net

 

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SLIDESHOW OF ALL THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE AT NMB PRIDE 2012!

Nelson Mandela Bay Pride:

Proudly Supported by GAYDAR Global Gay Dating, St George’s Axxess Park, Frontier Events, Above & Beyond, SAB, Red Bull and the community and Metro of Nelson Mandela Bay.

On Saturday 22 September 2012, Nelson Mandela Bay (A.K.A. Port Elizabeth A.K.A the Friendly City) hosted it’s second Gay Pride with the theme: “Life in True Colour”.
NMB pride invited our community in it’s campaign saying: “Join in the most colourful event of the year, dress up, or down and come show your true colours at the Nelson Mandela Bay Pride Parade. P.E. Pride is all about fun, charity and promoting tolerance of people with different sexual orientations.” The Very Colourful, Expressive and Diverse ‘Paint Fight’ Photography for this Campaign was done by Karl Schoemaker from Work at Play Photography ( www.workatplay.net). Despite the Weather being a bit homophobic NMB Pride had asked people to raid their stores for the brightest and most colourful umbrellas or even to make their own. Guess that would’ve made for one helluva Gay GLEE tribute to “Singing in the Rain”!!About 400 people kicked off the parade in Stanley Street and transformed the streets of Richmond Hill into rivers of colour.

Over 1000 people came together after the march at St. George’s Park Cricket stadium for the post pride fesival. Obviously there was no booze allowed into the festival venue (Damn, so no smuggling that ‘Papsak’ in your handbag!) as there was a Beer Tent, Wine & Champagne tent and Beer garden. Live music and DJ’s including international DJ D-VIANT created a dancing vibe of note to get people warmed up for the after-party.

The parade was FREE and Tickets for entry to the stadium were a mere 20 bucks to cover the venue & stage. Profits will go to NMB Pride 2013 & this year the official charity was Tru Colors, an organisation that offers schools a programme helping children to deal with awareness around sexual orientation and gender issues.
Will Jensen, one of the founders of Tru Colors:
“Pride went very well judged from a distance. Everyone had a good time!”Other acts Performing at NMB Pride
from 1pm until the closing was a Oh-so fabulous line-up which included:

New Afroteens

Little Poof
2Fierce
DJ Groovy Q
DJ Richard Saunders
Will Jensen (from Tru Colors)
DJ Bok                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     JD Mulder

Timone & Pumba
Danie Prinsloo                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Monique Walker                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Beyonce
And the Silver Screen singers: Riaan, Ewan, Leroy & Rita

The official NMB Pride After Party was held at club AQUA in the city’s North End.Our current Mr. Gay SA and Runner up Mr. Gay World whose ‘hood’ is in that Bay and who attended the Pride released a statement:

“The first NMB Pride last year was a phenomenal success and it was good to see that the organizers used that success to build a bigger and better event this year. The support from the “straight” community and media of PE was good to see and hopefully this event will go some way in uniting the LGBT community and creating tolerance and acceptance of LGBTs in general.”

NMB Queen of Pride:

The Queen of Pride pageant was held as part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Pride 2012 festivities. The pageant was held at the chic Hair Salon and Coffee shop ‘The B-Hive’.

Terry Tiger Victor, one of the local Drag Queens and owner of ‘The B-Hive’ was the organiser and hostess for this event which was held the Saturday before Pride. With a hefty number of Top Class Queens participating Terry said the event was a huge success.The judges for the pageant were very well-known Socialite and Model Monique Walker together with Photographer Thomas J Bekker and Hanro Manefeldt, Owner of Yello Lizard Design co. and one of the organisers of NMB Pride.

“Cooky Looky” also known as Jacques Claassens, when as a boy, won the pageant. The other two finalists or “Princesses” were Coco Caine and Rosie Climax.Cooky Looky and Mr. Gay SA were spotted together on a convertable at the Pride March.

Mark Olwagen and Keisha, the winners of Mr and Miss Aqua 2012 could also be seen at NMB Pride march.

Congratulations to the Winners of Miss Aqua 2012!
Miss Aqua 2012 – Keisha MyAss
1st Princess – Penny Tration
2nd Princess – CocoCaine

Mr NMB Pride was held on Friday & Saturday 24 and 25 August 2012.

For more Pictures on Mr and Miss Aqua as well as Mr NMB Pride,  you can go to:www.clubaqua.co.za

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Feedback and Lessons I Learned from the Colloquium on Challenging Homophobia and Transphobia in SA Schools

Was so Lovely to meet both Justice Edwin Cameron and Genevieve Le Coq, a beautiful Queen!

Was so Lovely to meet both Justice Edwin Cameron and Genevieve Le Coq, a beautiful Queen!

On 06 and 07 September 2012 I attended the Colloquium on Challenging Homophobia and Transphobia in South African Schools. It was hosted by GALA (Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action) with partners Cert (Centre for Education Rights and Transformation), UNESCO and SAIH (Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund)

As this is just my account of this event it by no means can mention everyone and everything that was said.

In typical Drag Queen Style I was horrendously fashionably late for both days but luckily improved my “record” by an hour on the second day. I happened to almost become fashion road kill when I fell over on my sky high “stripper” heels which I had bought shopping in Joburg while waiting for my bus.

Here are a few interesting lessons I learned, knowledge I gained and the people I learned it from:

Lesson#1 Dr Tiffany Jones
New England, Australia

Tiffany is a strikingly beautiful woman who is obviously very passionate about the LGBTI community. She asked me to watch a doccie called ‘Paris is Burning’ which is about a transgender Community in the 80’s and 90’s. (Need to still watch it so it should be good!)

I learned from Tiffany that our country needs policies dealing with LGBTI issues on Provincial and School Level and must specifically mention Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

In Australia research has shown that 1 in every 3 Teenagers have had a same-sex experience.

To say that Teenagers do not have sex and do not experiment reminds one of that whole 1960’s or 1930’s or whichever stone age era mindset that your child is not Gay or Lesbian and is just going through a “phase”.

This is a remarkable finding as it shows that Teenagers experiment with their sexuality and that it is very fluid at this stage. Although the word “fluid” might be like really TMI for a teenager or in fact any other Gay, Lesbian, Transgender etc person!

80% of Bullying and Teasing happens inside Australian school grounds. Maybe the other 20% happens on the way home? Let’s not forget that Social Networks like Twitter and Facebook are used to bully LGBTI youths.

The most disturbing and quite Emo statistic was a comparison between the states of Queensland and Victoria in Australia. The amount of students who had thought of suicide, committed self harm like cutting and even attempted or committed suicide in Victoria was HALF that of Teens in Queensland. The difference: better school policies on LGBTI issues. You’d think that given a name like Queensland, this state would fare much better.

Lesson #2 Michael Barron from Ireland, Director at BeLonGTo.

The youth of our country can be mobilized to bring about change. We so often look at our own LGBTI community but how about making “straight” allies to foster and bring about change?

Celebrities can be championed as the face of a Campaign to make the Campaign more effective. Collin Farrell was asked to be the champion of one of BeLonGTo’s campaigns but didn’t renew his commitments once the campaign ended. Maybe he feared being seen as Gay? Well us Queers would definitely not mind him joining the Family!

YouTube is an excellent platform to create awareness. A YouTube video made by BeLonGTo called “Stand Up” received 1 million hits and Ireland has roughly a population of close to 6 million people!

I so wanted to chat more with Michael as his work is very similar to mine: awareness, but time just didn’t allow it so now it’s up to the internet to network with him.

Lesson #3 Dalene Van Dyk, Out LGBTI Well-Being

Dalene introduced herself as a professional Dyke, hence her Surname Van Dyk. She also told us that holding a Fallic object like a mic close to her mouth made her actually very nervous. True Story.

From her we discovered that yes there is Training for teachers on LGBTI issues out there ( a big word called sensitisation) which had recently been sponsored by SADTU (South African Democratic Teachers Union) but there is a lack of funding to get it to enough teachers.

Lesson #4 Dr. Abraham Chupe Serote. Deputy Director of Social Cohesion and Equity in Education. Department of Basic Education

We all know by now that schools and the Department of Education do not really have policies on the whole LGBTI matter and Mr. Serote could at least admit that. Mr. Serote unfortunately had very little if not zero to bring to the table with his speech but what was promising was that he looked young and open to ideas. Before leaving he had asked for any material on the matter so that maybe a process of some sort could begin to create and implement policies and to try to change perceptions.

Lesson #5 Jillian Carman, Honorary Research Fellow, Wits School of Arts:

If you don’t really know Jillian (like I did) then you’d think she is a kind middle aged lady you’d have tea and polite conversations with. Well, I was slightly wrong, she would have tea and polite (yet astounding) conversations about the artist Stephen Cohen, anything but conservative!

Steven Cohen is a very prolific SA artist now living in France who has taken artistic concepts to the extreme.
He actually makes me jealous with those fabulous high heels he wears and that Chandelier he wore for one of his performances still makes me green!

His work has now been removed from public schools’ Art Subject Syllabus. So lets just call that State sponsored homophobic censorship. Private or independent schools still have his work in their syllabi. It is a pity as Cohen explores extremes with a vivid transgender theme underlying most of his work.

Lesson #6 Sibusiso Kheswa, Gender Dynamics

Sibusiso has the Gender Identity of a man and does a very good job of it! I had asked him if I should call him ‘Sisi’ (Sister) or ‘Buti’ (Brother), the answer was actually obvious! So this was a hands on experience in good ‘Traniquette’.
Often even in our Own communities we need to respect the gender identity that someone associates with.

#ThatAwkardMoment when you meet a Drag Queen with a moustache? Never, ever, EVER call her a he, him or his!!!!

Lesson #7 Themba Interactive Theatre Company, Directed by Warren Nebe.

A very powerful and interactive theatre production written by the young actors themselves.

It’s a story about a “skatane” Lesbian girl in a township who is in competition with a duo of very homophobic young men to see who has the best and most expensive clothes. (However two Sandton Moffies in Rosebank can turn out just as vicious!) One of these young men who goes by the nickname of “Casanova” rapes the girls girlfriend while it is being video-recorded by Casanova’s friend.

What makes this production interesting is that the audience could ask the characters (not the actors) questions. One of the most haunting questions and answers was when an audience member asked “Casanova”, (who had just raped the Lesbian girl) : “How did you feel after raping that girl?” where he answered: “Let me just correct you there, I did not rape this ntombazana, I did a Correctional service to my community.”

What adds to the shock is that the play’s narrator mentioned that when they took this production to a high school, the Grade 9 pupils were CHEERING on when the rape scene of the Lesbian girl was occurring.

Despite the rampant homophobia that these very brave actors have encountered in taking their story to the public one can see that Drama can definitely be used as a interactive tool to get the message out there.

Personally this small production had really brought the issue on Corrective Rape home, like waking up in a stranger’s bed. I had never seen or encountered a situation where someone was being raped so this story had really made me think hard about it.

Warren Nebe, the Director, had told the audience that there was a missing character who could bring the story together. I went to him after his talk and told him I thought who better a character than that of a teacher? I mean isn’t that one of the roles of an educator? “Pastoral” and counselling?

Lesson #8 Youth Workshop

Although there were 3 other workshops that one could attend, time only allowed everyone to choose one.

Why I chose the Workshop on Youth was because the South African Youth have a lot of energy that can be harnessed to make a powerful statement for change and this was the main theme of the workshop.

Issues in schools that came up were:

–      Taking a same-sex partner to a. Matric farewell.

–      having boys and girls bathrooms and making learners stand in two lines, one for boys and the other for girls.

–      Teasing and bullying often being fuelled by teachers.

–      School Uniform being biased according to gender.

–      Transgender learners being able to wear the clothing of their choice on civvies day.

Possible projects that could be brought about in schools:

–      Educating School Governing Body, Parents, School Management Team and teachers even before doing LGBTI awareness with Learners.

–      Having displays in school libraries or “public areas”

–      Campaigning for same-sex partners to be taken to matric farewells.

–      Utilising art in the form of murals, school courtyard art displays etc. to bring awareness into the everyday environment.

–      Doing small drama productions which create awareness.

To make our Workshop more interactive we did a small flash mob and play of scenarios on issues and then how these scenarios should have played out ideally.

With the scenario that I was in I played a nasty school principal with her reading glasses perched on the tip of her nose and a steely look of zero-compassion. It clashed terribly. A Drag Queen with Bitch-brille, heels and a very lady-GaGa like Pleather glove on one hand. Imagine Lady GaGa being principal of a school for a day? Sexy I think. LOL

Lesson #9 One of my personal highlights was meeting Justice Edwin Cameron from the SA Constitutional Court. Justice Cameron, a very unassuming and humble person gave such a powerful speech that really moved me.

Lesson #10 Matshidiso mofokeng and Manika, my new chomees of from FEW (Forum for the Empowerment of Women) and I almost started a Flash mob but I was drinking juice and my party engine wasn’t  started yet (fine, let’s not give the juice the fault!).

The Ladies from FEW told me about the relatively unknown news that they had taken a Soccer Team to the World Out Games and came 5th overall. Only after the Colloquium It dawned on me how SPORT can be used as a way of bringing all sorts of people together, both LGBTI and Straight.
I thought this would definitely be something to look into! I mean look at what the Paralympics did for the disabled? Smashing stigma to bits.

I really hope that there will be another Colloquium next year as it was an event that united our LGBTI community for the better. Myself included learnt a lot, so lets see if I can be there next year giving feedback on projects.

The next question is: What are you as the person out there going to do about LGBTI issues in schools? The Rape and Murder in our Communities?
You do not have to do something BIG, even the smallest acts of protection, support and kindness to a fellow LGBTI person could be what saves that person’s life.

Think about it. Mwah Mwah

Also got to meet one of the organisers of the Colloquium, Gabriel Hoosain Khan,such a gentle Person!

Also got to meet one of the organisers of the Colloquium, Gabriel Hoosain Khan,such a gentle Person!