News24

Mr Gay World in Africa

2012-04-08 18:28

Johannesburg - After Mr Gay Ethiopia entered the Mr Gay World contest, his father cut off all communications. Mr Gay Zimbabwe withdrew, fearing the publicity was making life difficult for his mother.

But Mr Gay Namibia's family accompanied him to the airport for a warm send-off when he left for the competition, which culminates for him and 21 other men late on Sunday in the finals at a Johannesburg casino.

"Bring the trophy home," Namibia's Wendelinus Hamutenya said his mother told him.

Hamutenya said his experience shows that Africans and Africa can change. On the continent, gay rights activists have been vilified, threatened and killed. Laws in dozens of African countries ban homosexual acts.

Prominent African politicians ridicule gays and minor politicians grab headlines by proposing even tougher anti-gay laws.

"I hope and I believe that Namibia will be the second country in Africa to recognise the rights" of gays, Hamutenya said in an interview.

The first country is South Africa, also the first African country to host Mr Gay World, which debuted in 2009 in Canada.

The bill of rights adopted after apartheid ended in South Africa in 1994 explicitly bans discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Same-sex couples can marry and adopt children in South Africa.

Teboha Maitse, acting chair of South Africa's Commission for Gender Equality, said she fought white racist rule alongside openly gay comrades, and that experience made her and others aware of the need to enact legal protections for gays. But she said when she travels farther north, "people say, 'You South Africans, you don't behave like Africans'."

Maitse, whose government-appointed commission regularly speaks out in support of gay and lesbian rights, acknowledged in an interview that even in South Africa gays, lesbians and others who don't fit a traditional definition of the sexual norm do face discrimination and worse.

Of particular concern in recent years have been attacks on lesbians sometimes called "corrective rapes".

Maitse said gay men often suffer in silence, sometimes committing suicide to escape taunts. She said poor, black gays and lesbians are particularly vulnerable because the communities in which they live are conservative.

South Africa's Mr Gay World contestant, Lance Weyer, is white.

Weyer, a psychologist, said gays like him have the education and money to fight back when their rights are violated. That makes it all the more important, he said, for successful gays and lesbians to speak out, both to be role models for others and to shake up conservative attitudes.

Not just African

The problem isn't just African. The Chinese contestant was unable to come to Johannesburg because of anti-gay pressure there, organisers said. Representation was thin from Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East - all regions where gay rights are under threat.

In the United States, projects like It Gets Better reach out to young homosexual to help them cope with harassment, a reminder that even in the West, gays are vulnerable.

The American Mr Gay World contestant, Kevin Scott Power, is an elementary school teacher who said even young children experience anti-gay bullying.

Power said he was not nervous at coming to Africa, despite its homophobic reputation.

"We're all representing the people that don't have the power to stand up," he told reporters in Johannesburg.

Coenie Kukkuk, Africa's director for Mr Gay World said the contest produces a spokesman and role model for gays, particularly in Africa. Previous winners of the contest have gone to schools and universities to speak out about human rights. Prizes include $25 000 in travel vouchers to enable the winner to spread his message around the world.

Kukkuk said he has struggled to get more black South African and other African contestants. M. Namibia's story helps illustrate why that has been difficult, but also gives reason for hope.

Hamutenya, who herded cows as a young boy in remote northern Namibian, realised when he was in his teens that he was attracted to men. He confided to his father when he was 16. His father called the police and had them take his son to a mental hospital.

Hamutenya escaped from the institution and lived with friends. Eventually, he and his father reconciled. Hamutenya went on to study nursing in South Africa, and returned to work as a midwife in his home region.

Hamutenya said villagers respect him because of his work, and because his family is prominent and known for its piety. Hamutenya himself once considered becoming a priest.

Since becoming Mr Gay Namibia, Hamutenya has lobbied for a repeal of his country's anti-sodomy law. And he says politicians have been receptive to his arguments.

Hamutenya was badly beaten in Windhoek, Namibia's capital, after winning the Mr Gay Namibia contest last year. He believes the attack was a mugging, not a hate crime.

Organiser Kukkuk insisted that Mr Gay World is not a beauty pageant.

Mr Gay World includes an essay test on the history of the gay rights movement. But the swim suit competition counts for more, according to the judges' handbook. The seven judges are from around the world and include journalists and an actor.

Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the New York-based International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, worries such glitzy contests feed stereotypes that could cement the view, often heard in Africa, that homosexuality is un-African.

"Most of us are of colour, poor, don't look like we go to the gym regularly," Johnson said in a telephone interview. "Class does matter. It is poor men who experience the most oppression."

He gave Mr Gay World credit for drawing attention to discrimination against gays, particularly in Africa.

But Johnson said that during a recent visit to Johannesburg, he was dismayed to find the advertising featured two white men - the South Africans who won Mr Gay World in 2011 and 2010.

"The one thing they ought to do is change that poster," Johnson said. "Have one black guy up there with no shirt on. Cater to a diverse audience."

Comments
  • Pixie86 - 2012-04-08 19:04

    why point out that south africa's contastant is white? He's south african, period.

      Riaan - 2012-04-08 20:00

      Just another stupid white liberal with white guilt. Next he will probably want quotas on the number of times a white participant can win.

  • Alaina - 2012-04-08 19:13

    Shame man. How sad how some families cannot accept their children for who they are. They're so selfish about their own feelings that they don't care about their childrens happiness. :-(

      rory.short1 - 2012-04-08 19:30

      I agree 100%

      veritas.odium.paret - 2012-04-08 19:41

      Alaina, Is it so wrong to just be conservative these days? To try and pass on the cultures, traditions and values that parents have been passing down to their children for generations? Or do parents now have to throw it all out the window because their kid has different views on life. Jeez, they brought you into the world, raised you and fed you, arent they entitled to atleast try to guide you in what they consider the right paths? My father always told me if I want things done MY way, best just get my own house. Frankly, I wish gay children came from gay parents, then we wouldnt have to hear all these whinings about parents not accepting their kids. Coz maybe it hurts them too when their children no longer want to live in ways they thought were proper and normal. Try to look at things from other's points of view before judging.

      Sam - 2012-04-08 19:58

      veritas, if we had always kept to our parents' views of the world there would be no interracial marriage and women wouldn't be allowed to vote.

      Riaan - 2012-04-08 20:08

      veritas.odium.paret Please don't comment on things you have absolutely no clue about. You just come across as a bigoted ignoranus. Children don't have to live the lives their parents want them to life. And why should a gay man/woman marry a women/man if they have no sexual attraction to her/him. This statement is equally laughable and doesn't even warrant a response: "Frankly, I wish gay children came from gay parents, then we wouldnt have to hear all these whinings about parents not accepting their kids"

      Alaina - 2012-04-08 20:14

      Veritas, what a lame comment. What you're saying is that gay people don't lead \normal\ lives? They can't have traditions, respect their cultures and families because they're gay? Gosh you obviously have no tolerance and no respect for people's rights to their sexual preferences.

      veritas.odium.paret - 2012-04-08 20:27

      Guyz, your parents probably let you do as you pleased in their houses and probably don't care much about preserving their heritage and passing it on. Dont expect all ours to be. And Riaan while you're as quick as you are to advise against commenting on things I dont know about, you failed to demonstrate what it is I don't know that you're obviously so clued up about meaning that I have absolutely no reason to listen to you at all.

      Jack - 2012-04-08 21:03

      Teboho, nobody is telling anyone to chuck out heritage. You seem to have a very limited understanding of what is being discussed here.

      mbossenger - 2012-04-08 21:15

      "Coz maybe it hurts them too when their children no longer want to live in ways they thought were proper and normal" - can you explain to me why being gay is not "proper or normal"?

      Consolata - 2012-04-08 21:33

      @ veritas. Who are gay people harming by being gay. If they were harming people then it would be a problem, but since no once else is harmed by the lifestyle that gay people choose to use then there is nothing wrong with it.

  • FabulousFranci - 2012-04-08 19:15

    a pitty this country isnt one of them banning the nonsense

      Jack - 2012-04-08 19:33

      It is a pity we have to share oxygen with you

      Phoenix - 2012-04-08 19:44

      LOL the only guys I know that use the word Fabulous are gay!

      Sam - 2012-04-08 19:55

      That would be convenient way to prevent you getting aroused, Fab Franci.

      Nuggets - 2012-04-08 19:57

      It's a pity that his degenerate comment has almost as many likes as dislikes...

      Riaan - 2012-04-08 20:09

      A pity your mother didn't smother you when you were a baby. Useless cretin.

      lydonmcg - 2012-04-08 20:25

      The closet isn't too fabulous a place dear Franci. Come out into the light...

      Frank - 2012-04-08 21:03

      A fabulous opportunity for Malema to "attract" gay support! Pity about his looks and pindick!

      celeste.rsa - 2012-04-08 21:40

      Franci, Franci, Franci....you have issues...gay ones...I'd guess. It's okay to be yourself you know!

      Philip - 2012-04-09 06:28

      Well said FRANCI!

      wesleywt - 2012-04-09 12:12

      lol Fab Franci are you jealous you couldn't make it through the selection phase of the competition. No need to get so touchy about it.

  • rory.short1 - 2012-04-08 19:34

    Everybody is unique, and we each come as a total, invaluable, package to be celebrated as is and this naturally includes our sexual orientation, whatever it might be.

  • Mike Purchase - 2012-04-08 19:58

    they looking for that fat little prick its time he got shagged,then a shower,bladdy clowns.

  • Frank - 2012-04-08 21:34

    "We're all representing the people that don't have the power to stand up," he told reporters in Johannesburg. Is this a common problem amongst gays?

  • veritas.odium.paret - 2012-04-08 23:10

    I wonder how long before zoophiles start lobbying for their sexual rights too. When children find it ok to tell their parents that they cant help being attracted to only dogs/horses etc. When Beauty demands her rights to be wed to The Beast... All it's going to take is a few outspoken activists, some matyrs maybe, pro-zoophilia arguments that are probably already being formed and soon LGBT will have a 'Z' at the end (unless they themselves discriminate). Our society is just progressing...

      celeste.rsa - 2012-04-09 02:57

      veritas, stop feeling threatened. Homosexuality isn't an infectious disease, so don't worry, you won't catch it, ok?

      georg.laing - 2012-04-09 10:44

      Actually, that wasn't his point. He's simply noting that once you abandon natural law, everything will eventually become acceptable. \r\n\r\nLook at the pattern in the West: contraception, divorce, pornography, sodomy, abortion, gay marriage. All oppose natural law, but have since become legal. It is not unrealistic to expect that the list will continue to be added onto: polygamy, pedophilia (which the American Psychiatric Association has recently redubbed \inter-generational attraction\), zoophilia, necrophilia, etc.\r\n\r\nOnce you sever the connection between morality and natural law, you open the door wide-open for an everything-goes policy. The inevitability is that we will eventually have no grounds whatsoever to forbid anything. I'm sure you will agree that some things should not be allowed.

      veritas.odium.paret - 2012-04-09 10:56

      Lady, just what gave you the idea that I think homosexuality is an infectious disease? Please quote whatever I said that implies my believe that touching homosexuals will make me gay and explain exactly how it does. Because you've simply lost me...

      georg.laing - 2012-04-09 11:03

      @Veritas\r\n\r\nBalstrome and celeste.rsa: Two classic examples of the logical fallacy \ad hominem\. Avoid the argument by attacking the opposing party's character or intellect. It's irrelevant to the discussion, but makes the losing party come across as superior. Don't indulge.

      celeste.rsa - 2012-04-09 11:10

      Veritas, you must suffer from short-term memory loss in addition to your obvious homophobia!\r\n\r\nYour ignorant and bigoted responses to Alaina's post sure sounded as if you think homosexuality can be transmitted. After reading that, as well as this drivel, I just wanted to reassure you that you have noothing to worry about, so get on with your life and let others get on with theirs.

      Gene - 2012-04-09 11:44

      Your argument would only be valid if animals had the ability to consent to said relationship. Equating homosexuality to beastiality is a bit of a low blow for you intellectual dishonests, though it is a tactic that appeals to the common ignoramus which is why you probably find it so easily lapped up. Homosexuality is present in nature. So tell me, what is so unnatural about nature itself? I suppose you are the type to dictate to women what they can and can't do with their uteri, too?

      veritas.odium.paret - 2012-04-09 12:12

      Clearly George. @Celeste, so you're just irrelevantly bringing your hang-ups about what I said in another comment to this one which has absolutely jack to do with that discussion just so that you can come across as being better? Quit the cheap tactics lady! I've noticed it IS trendy to call others 'ignorant bigot homophobes' but do it where it's warranted!\r\n@Gene, the issue of animal consent is one zoos are working tirelessly to establish and onces they achieve that, they too will have society by the balls. As for your suppositions about me, shove them very high up your aß and stick to what you know.

      veritas.odium.paret - 2012-04-09 12:16

      Clearly George. @Celeste, so you're just irrelevantly bringing your hang-ups about what I said in another comment to this one which has absolutely jack to do with that discussion just so that you can come across as being better? Quit the cheap tactics lady! I've noticed it IS trendy to call others 'ignorant bigot homophobes' but do it where it's warranted!\r\n@Gene, the issue of animal consent is one zoos are working tirelessly to establish and onces they achieve that, they too will have society by the balls. As for your suppositions about me, shove them very high up your aß and stick to what you genuinely know.

      wesleywt - 2012-04-09 12:19

      Georg You are engaging in a Slippery Slope argument. Going from gay rights to bestiality. Why do you hate the gays some much. Its way better than church sponsored pedophilia.

      Jack - 2012-04-09 12:40

      Classic Red Herring. legalising certain paraphilia is not what is being discussed here.

      georg.laing - 2012-04-09 13:10

      @wesley, actually I wasn't. I gave no indication that one breach of natural law lead directly to another. I was arguing that a total abandonment of natural law would result in the acceptance of all sorts of malpractices which are today considered taboo. Your second statement appeals to the tuquoquo fallacy. Religious people are not allowed to comment on a moral issue because they do not themselves adhere to it. Again, this is a red herring, meant to steer the debate away from the actual issue. Whether I am guilty of murder will in no way affect the validity of my argument against murder. Whether some clergy are guilty of paedophilia in no way affects the validity of their argument that paedophilia is always wrong.

      georg.laing - 2012-04-09 13:13

      Someone commented that homosexuality is found in nature and therefore natural. That is a misunderstanding of the term natural law. Natural law is broken all the time. It does not refer to what actually happens in nature but instead refers to the natural configuration of all things. One of the premises of evolution theory is that a species will always behave in such a manner that will ensure the perpetuation of said species. Obviously there are cases where animals behave contrary to the natural order (homosexuality), but that is precisely the point. Their behaviour is inherently contradictory. Frankly I am astounded that science is so slow to admit that homosexuality is inherently disordered. The only possible condoning of homosexual behaviour would have to be a philosophical/religious one. Alas, religion is unanimous on this issue and those who object do so not on religious but on emotional grounds and are often in conflict with the clear teaching of their religious documents and authorities.

      celeste.rsa - 2012-04-09 13:17

      @ veritas, this article is about Mr Gay World. You chose to add your homophobic commemnts and then this, which has nothing to do with the topic, but which you probably thought would lend some credence to your earlier posts. \r\n\r\nHow others live their lives is no concern of either yours or mine. You just carry on raising your children the way that you think is right and moral, but don't think that means they can't be gay because you could be in for a huge surprise.

      georg.laing - 2012-04-09 13:21

      @Jack, an original argument cannot be a red herring.

      Jack - 2012-04-09 14:14

      @Georg "Natural law is broken all the time. It does not refer to what actually happens in nature but instead refers to the natural configuration of all things" Have you not considered that homosexuality is part of the natural configuration, that without it, the entirety cannot exist? It is a red herring in that the article is abut gay rights, and not paraphilia rights which by definition are completely unrelated.

  • Katlego - 2012-04-09 01:29

    My heterosexuality is not that fragile that I am threatened by homosexuals. Each their own! I don't care and don't discriminate against any1 who is different from me in preferrence! \r\nPeople should be worried more about crime and fathers who don't look after their kids. That is a crime in my eyes and its unjust! Happy Gays In Africa!

  • QuestioningFaith - 2012-04-09 09:03

    Juxtapose two images: on the left, two guys kissing in apparent loving embrace, on the right, hundreds of African kids starving and malnourished. If the image on the left upsets you more than the image on the right, then you don't get to tell me anything about morality, Biblical, or otherwise. Who knows? Maybe you suffer from latent anger directed inwards because of repressed feelings towards others of the same sex? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120406234458.htm

  • Peter - 2012-04-09 09:49

    Homophobia generally indicates a lack of social development. Witness most of Africa, religious fundamentalism and - despite our Constitution - South African government representatives at the UN. Not to mention Vladimir Putin.

  • Sipho - 2012-04-09 10:31

    If God would return and wants to destroy one country SA would win it easy.#justSAYIN

      Sam - 2012-04-09 11:20

      And you'd worship that kind of god?

  • Amos Morwape - 2012-04-09 10:40

    I spend much of my time with gays not becos im one but becuse i enjoy listening to their stories with their partners.thus i dont have anything against gays.let them do it their own way and hope they enjoy it as much as we enjoy it.

      Phoenix - 2012-04-09 15:49

      I don't have anything against heterosexuals. In general, they are OK.

  • Mandla - 2012-04-09 16:02

    its not in the bible , so i condemn it

  • pages:
  • 1