”Nhlanhla Yika” (2011) from Sabelo Mlangeni’s Black Men in Dress.
Excerpt from AIAC post by T.J. Tallie and Maria Hengeveld:
This week BBC News reported on the rise in Cape Town’s status as a premiere international gay tourist destination. The article itself went on to report at length from gay South African hoteliers and organizers, many of whom lavished praise on the progressivism enshrined in the country’s constitution, and the comparative sense of freedom that South Africa in general (and Cape Town in particular) provided for LGBT-identified people. While it is undeniable that South Africa can boast one of the most inclusive constitutions in the world, particularly in regard to protecting the rights of those with different sexual orientations, the BBC article and much of the rhetoric surrounding ‘Cape Town as gay paradise’ obscures far more complex realities. To begin with, the BBC begins with an utterly terrible opening line: “There is arguably no worse place in the world to be gay than Africa.” Oh God. First, the article begins with a depiction of Africa as monolithic and homophobic—only to then present South Africa as the great hope for gays and lesbians in the homogenously-rendered continent. This is both problematic and somewhat irresponsible. Taken as a large bloc, yes, there is certainly a troubling history of institutional homophobia throughout much of the continent, but to posit that Africa (as a magical unit) is the singularly worst place to be gay is dangerously totalizing. Such a linguistic move obscures realities throughout much of the Middle East and Eastern Europe for men and women that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. It also conveniently forgets new developments, like Malawian President Joyce Banda’s new announcement to work to decriminalize homosexuality. Finally, the opening statement situates Africa as uniquely homophobic and particularly awful—thereby falling neatly into contemporary Western discourse on the continent.
(Read the full post, Pinkwashing South Africa, here)