Did you see Mr. Gay South Africa™ win Mr. Gay World in the news last week? No? Neither did I.
Many South Africans celebrated Human Rights Day in South Africa on Monday 21 March, but I wasn’t one of them.
Why? Because despite our Constitutional provisions of equality and democracy and human rights, I am still part of a minority group which is discriminated against, and whose concerns are sidelined by the lack of interest of others who like to look down on myself and those like me – and who view our existence and achievements as an embarrassment or, at best, uninteresting.
I’m talking about the consistent unconstitutional acts of the SA Government at the UN in either actively opposing or abstaining from decisions aimed at enhancing the human rights of the Pink Community. And back at home, it claims that those active in providing awareness of these acts or omissions are part of a “misinformation campaign”.
There’s the the continued refusal of the government to withdraw a homophobic columnist appointed by President Zuma as ambassador to Uganda where draconian anti-gay enactments are pending; the continued failure of the government to integrate the provisions of the SA Constitution protecting LGBTI human rights in its foreign policy; the government’s persistence in spending South African tax money and resources on assisting countries which attach no value to the human rights of the Pink Community; the fact that two tiny lunatic fringe political parties (ACDP and FF+) holding seven parliamentary seats out of over 400 could derail a parliamentary motion of congratulations; the near news black-out by especially print media of the remarkable feat of winning Mr. Gay World twice AND being awarded the hosting for 2012.
It seems the bulk of the South African press haven’t allowed any coverage of the Mr. Gay World win. I say ‘allowed’, because while all the main papers were notified of Francois Nel’s prestigious achievement in winning the title, and the team’s coup in bringing home the rights for South Africa to host next year’s contest in Johannesburg, very few responded to the organisers to ask for details in order to write a story about it.
“Is our news not good enough to be shared with the rest of the country? Are our achievements not meaningful or impressive enough to inspire all South Africans?”
So far, only one or two articles have appeared in, surprisingly, local Bloemfontein newspapers, while mention appears to have been made only on ETV News (and that because of the ACDP angle, not the win itself) and two radio stations. And yet, papers are carrying on business as usual.
Instead, Rapport is still publishing religious propaganda about that homophobic preacher with the silly hat, Angus Buchan, appearing in Paarl – as if it is actual news. It seems to me the poor reporters who did ask for details about the Mr. Gay World contest might have actually written the stories (they confirmed receipt of the information) but still no articles appeared; were the stories killed by their management?
I am reminded of 2009’s Pink Jacaranda Music Festival in Pretoria, when the Beeld published a large picture in full colour of two men in Voortrekker dresses on page two, and focused on the negative remarks made by a small group that probably would be more at home in Orania than in our supposedly enlightened post-apartheid South Africa, which seems ever in danger of having bits torn out of its Constitution.
The festival hosted celebrated artists like Karin Zoid and ElzabÃ© Zietsman, but this was ignored in favour of highlighting how “unacceptable” and “un-patriotic” it was to allow the Pink Community to host an event at an Afrikaner landmark. As usual, the press chose to ignore the positive in favour of the negative.
Likewise, in this case, South Africa has won a contest for the second time consecutively in the second year of its participation – quite a remarkable achievement – and also won the right to host Mr Gay World next year – against the mighty USA. When you consider that other Western countries like Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and the USA were in the final top five of the Mr. Gay World title, it is simply astonishing seeing that South Africa also won the previous year – only the second time in the history of the major international titles (Venezuela won Miss Universe in 2008 and 2009).
Is our news not good enough to be shared with the rest of the country? Are our achievements not meaningful or impressive enough to inspire all South Africans? Are we not human enough, alongside other South Africans, to have a reason to celebrate Human Rights Day in South Africa?
This continued sidelining and ignoring of our community by the media is hurtful and unacceptable, and I hope the Pink Community voices its feelings on this exclusion to the press.
PS – In the light of the apparent news media blackout in the coverage of the recent Mr. Gay SA and Mr. Gay World triumphs, it seems only appropriate to give credit where it is due. While most news outlets have opted to ignore the newsmakers in the Pink Community, there are the few who have reported the news without bias and without the tint of prejudice. For this, we wish to convey our heartfelt appreciation and thanks.