LGBT leaders and gay pundits in the U.S. have praised Nelson Mandela in recent days as a champion who, as the first democratically-elected president in South Africa, led the nation to pave the way globally on LGBT rights. But prominent South African author and journalist Mark Gevisser, who wrote a prize-winning biography of his country's second democratically-elected president, Thabo Mbeki, and who co-edited a critically-acclaimed collection of essays on gay and lesbian life in South Africa, said Mandela’s history on LGBT rights was more complicated.
“I would temper that analysis a bit,” Gevisser said in interview with me on SiriusXM Progress, speaking from Cape Town. “It was not Mandela who brought the notion of LGBT rights into the ANC [African National Congress, the governing party].”
Gevisser, who lived and worked in New York writing for the Village Voice and The Nation in the 1980s, returned to South Africa in 1990, covering the tumultuous transformation of the country for the Mail & Guardian and other publications. He said there’s no question that South Africa is a global leader on LGBT rights. It formed a constitution in 1996 which outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation. That became the basis for judicial action which ultimately led to Parliament legislating in favor of same-sex marriage in 2006.
"A lot of that happened on Nelson Mandela’s watch,” Gevisser said. “But it wasn’t something Mandela was always comfortable with. Mandela was a man of his generation. He went to a conservative mission school.”
“So it would be wrong to say he was always comfortable with LGBT rights,” Gevisser continued. “I think what is extraordinary about him and his generation…is that when it was sort of explained to them by younger comrades [who’d spent time in the West in exile]…when it was explained to these old men that human rights are indivisible, and that, just as you can’t discriminate against someone because of the color of her skin, you can’t discriminate against someone because of her sexual orientation, they got it. And they got it very quickly. They didn’t stand in the way of this extraordinary legal process that happened in South Africa.”
The stigma behind LGBT athletes comes from two very opposite, but equally crippling stereotypes: masculinity and femininity applied in separate instances to the athletic world and the LGBT community. In our society, strength and aggression represent masculinity, while femininity is associated with feebleness and daintiness. These constructions are incredibly rigid and pose a threat to the social development and acceptance of many, but most notably gay athletes.
For a male athlete especially, the athletic world is an arena in which to proclaim his manhood, to prove his worth through speed, agility, and strength. On the other hand, despite progress in accepting LGBT individuals, there is a persistent, traditional mentality that associates homosexuality with femininity. Gay men are traditionally seen as dainty fellows overly concerned with dress and appearance, who speak in high, overly-exaggerated voices and shy away from anything “manly.” When these two stereotypes overlap, it is difficult for a man to see how he can both be taken seriously as a fierce competitor and as a gay individual in the sports world. The “macho environment” they live and breathe in seems unwelcoming to both facets of their being. It becomes one or the other.
United States Olympic soccer player Megan Rapinoe, who came out just weeks before the 2012 summer Olympics, expressed concerns about the sports world and homophobia in an interview with Out.com in July 2012.
“I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out,” she said. “I feel everyone is really craving [for] people to come out. People want — they need – to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A.”
Founder of You Can Play, Patrick Burke believes that coming out is easier for female athletes because the athletic world is paralyzed by an idea that “there are no gay male athletes, and every female athlete is a lesbian.” And the numbers prove it. Of the 23 openly gay or lesbian 2012 summer Olympians, only four were men. The world is shocked when male athletes come out of the closet, but very rarely does anyone turn their head when female athletes do the same.
“In female sports, if you’re gay, most likely your team knows it pretty quickly,” Rapione said. “It’s very open and widely supported. For males, it’s not that way at all. It’s sad.”
A discrimination complaint over a Colorado bakery's refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay couple is being heard in a Denver court.
At issue in the complaint from David Mullins and Charlie Craig against Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver is whether religious freedom can protect a business from discrimination allegations from gay couples.
An administrative judge in Colorado's Civil Rights Commission is scheduled to hear arguments in the case Wednesday morning. It's unknown whether a ruling in the case will come the same day.
The bakery owner faces up to a year in prison if the court rules against him and he continues to refuse to make wedding cakes for gay couples.
Dayna Morales, the New Jersey waitress and former Marine who claimed last month the only tip she received from one family was an attack on her “lifestyle,” is now being accused of being dishonorably discharged, and of being a liar.
A few weeks ago, Morales sent a receipt to Have A Gay Day, which read, “I’m sorry I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and the way you live your life” written across it.
The receipt went viral. The New Civil Rights Movement spoke with Morales on the phone. She told us she had received a great deal of support from her employer and coworkers, who are like “family” to her.
But after NBC’s local New York City News Channel 4 reported on the receipt attack, one family contacted them and offered as proof their Visa statement and the original receipt that showed no slur — and an $18 tip.
Now Morales, in this NBC News story, is being accused of having earned a dishonorable discharge, and of being a compulsive liar — even having claimed she had brain cancer, when she did supposedly did not.
A Colorado school board member is facing criticism after she said that transgender students would need to be castrated before the student could use the school bathrooms that fit their gender identity.
KREX-TV in Grand Junction, Colo. was the first to report on Delta County School Board member Katherine Svenson's comments about transgender students during an October meeting:
"I would like to pass out something that shows people what is going on in the rest of the country," Svenson said at the school board meeting. "Massachusetts and California have passed laws relating to calling a student, irrespective of his biological gender, letting him perform as the gender he thinks he is, or she is. I just want to emphasize: not in this district. Not until the plumbing's changed. There would have to be castration in order to pass something like that around here."
Svenson refers to a groundbreaking bill recently signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown that allows transgender youth to use whatever bathroom and participate in whichever sports team they believe matches their gender identity.
When questioned about her controversial comments by KREX, Svenson was unapologetic.
“I don’t have a problem if some boys think they are girls, I’m just saying as long as they can impregnate a woman, they’re not going to go in the girls' locker-room,” she said.
Other Delta County school officials have said that they do not agree with Svenson's point of view on the issue.
A private Christian school that will be receiving taxpayer-funded school vouchers has just instituted a policy banning LGBT students or students with LGBT parents or siblings. Wilmington, North Carolina’s Myrtle Grove Christian School just published a Biblical morality policy that bans anyone even suspected of “participating in, supporting, or affirming sexual immorality, homosexual activity, or bisexual activity.”
The two-page letter uses the children’s game, Duck, Duck, Goose, to illustrate their “simple but profound truth: If we move too far away from the center, we can no longer hold hands.”
"The question is, at what point are a family’s moral affirmations or lifestyles far enough away from the biblical center that we cannot hold hands in partnership?"
"The school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission of an applicant or discontinue enrollment of a student if the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home or the activities of a student are counter to or are in opposition to the Biblical lifestyle the school teaches."
The policy will begin in the fall of 2014, as will parents’ ability to use taxpayer-funded school vouchers, initially worth $4200 per year per student, but expected to increase in value, for tuition.
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