Eugene “Huge” Brockman, the designer of the new South African LGBT flag, has responded to Jason Fiddler’s recent article on Mambaonline questioning the appropriateness of the venture.
Eugene “Huge” Brockman
As I am the designer and person behind the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) flag of South Africa, I would like to address the issues raised in Mambaonline’s article on the 19th January, 2011.
Thank you to all readers, Jason Fiddler and Mambaonline for actively pursuing GLBT rights in South Africa and bringing this topic to public debate.
My motivation and aim with the GLBT flag of South Africa is to use it as a vehicle for change in our country, by having it unite the community, generate revenue for GLBT causes and protect and promote the GLBT agenda in South Africa – all of which I have been actively doing in the four weeks since the flag was launched.
P2-INK consists of my fiancÃ©e and I, operating out of our one bedroom apartment, with two laptops, a hoard of boxes, a dream and a shrinking savings account. Nevertheless, the article brings a lot of valuable points to the fore.
WHY WE NEED A SOUTH AFRICAN GLBT FLAG?
I would let pioneering activist Ndumie Funda answer this question in a direct quote. (Ndumie’s lover was “correctively raped” and died as a result. She has won 140 000 signatures in a record-breaking petition to call our government to action):
“Our government constitution is highly inclusive, but in practicality it is not. By hanging the GLBT flag of South Africa in our streets and houses we can intimidate perpetrators of corrective rape, plus the government as it reminds them that we are not going anywhere. We are also citizens of this country and therefore we demand justice and equality for all.”
The GLBT flag of South Africa is a means to develop a queer South African identity, resolve local issues and to generate funds for local causes, whilst remaining a part of the African and international GLBT community.
WHY ARE WE APPLYING TO TRADEMARK THE GLBT FLAG OF SOUTH AFRICA?
The Gilbert Baker Rainbow flag was not trademarked. That lack of foresight led to the flag being freely adopted but also to becoming commercialised. Most flag manufacturers use and sell it without a cent going to the GLBT community. However, the worst sin of all was that some corporations adopted the colours in advertising campaigns whilst neglecting employment equality for GLBT employees.
So by trademarking and managing the GLBT flag of South Africa through a company we are promoting the common good by ensuring that every sale of the GLBT flag of South Africa goes to a worthy cause. In the next few months, profits will be going to Cape Town Pride and Luleki Sizwe. I have contacted the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Joburg pride to propose similar projects, but they are in their initial phases.
My partner and I have added the following to our website (we neglected to so do and apologise for this):
- All individuals are free to use the design of the GLBT flag of South Africa for personal use. Feel free to paint the flag, go wild – paint your fridge, your car, house in the colours.
- We ask any and all NGOs, NPOs and charities promoting GLBT causes to contact us on how to use the GLBT flag of South Africa for their causes at no charge.
- Companies wanting to discuss the GLBT flag of South Africa in advertising and marketing are free to contact P2-INK, but must make themselves and their HR department available for an GLBT employment equity audit.
WHY THE SUDDEN APPROACH?
There has been a clear slide in GLBT rights: South Africa’s UN Ambassador’s vote, the continuous corrective rape and eroding GLBT rights in Uganda and Malawi made me feel the need to act immediately. Launching at MCQP became a viable option and I acted on it.
We also researched the origins of the South African flag and in reality the design flag was decided on by a few who asked the public in good faith to embrace it.
Why? After a failed national competition with over 7000 applications, unsuccessful proposals by tens of design companies it came down to Fred Brownell, and a strong design. It took some time for people to accept it (in 1995 white people were still flying the Oranje blanje blou at the Rugby World cup, yet today the majority of South Africans have come to love the flag). Similarly, with persistence we will earn recognition to have the GLBT flag of South Africa represent the local queer community.
We have not stated that the GLBT flag of South Africa is the “official” queer flag. However, we have asked the community to see its value and to adopt it. De Waterkant is flying the flag in solidarity. Cape Town Pride’s board and executive committee have embraced the flag because they know we are sincere, generous and provided them with an avenue to raise funds (Pride does not simply happen, it needs funding).
The previous article mentioned that the US version of the Pride flag is almost a non-entity. Why? It is a full time occupation to do justice in promotion and management of such a symbol. It is a project that my partner and I have staked our careers, our financial security and dreams upon. If a similar model to that of the Pride flag of the USA was followed and the concept was put to the community, there would have been discussion upon discussion, with little action taken.
Who would have stepped forward, put their resources on the line, given generously to charity and made this flag their life’s work, as I have done? Let us not discount the large egos, internal politics and feuds in the gay community which could have resulted in competing designs fighting against each other instead of for the community.
IS THE GLBT FLAG OF SOUTH AFRICA NATIONAL?
I just happen to live in Cape Town and as such there are geographical limitations. The GLBT flag of South Africa was launched at MCQP because it was an immediate platform to the national GLBT community as people from across the country attend.
I was approached by Gareth Dallas (Cape Town Pride festival director) who saw my passion and asked me to become a Pride volunteer. I did so immediately and have since thrown myself wholeheartedly into helping out.
I also e-mailed and called most gay clubs and venues in Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein, Mr. Gay South Africa, Pink Loerie Festival and Joburg Pride to discuss collaborative projects and have given flags away for free.
The flag in Cape Town’s ‘Gay Village’
My partner and I have set aside time to move to Joburg to introduce the flag to Gauteng. Ultimately, I would like to put together a Priscilla-Queen-Of-the-Desert-like road trip so the flag can reach each and every part of our country, from Springbok to Soweto!
I ask every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered South African to give the GLBT flag of South Africa a chance