Exit, South Africa’s longest running LGBTI newspaper, has declined a nomination by the Feather Awards, arguing that the event is frivolous and air-headed.
The awards are described as a cheeky and irreverent celebration of high-profile individuals who, the organisers say, have inspired, scandalised and amused South Africa’s LGBTI community over the past year.
It’s never been explained how and by whom the finalists, who are almost always heterosexual, are nominated – or how the winners are chosen.
Despite receiving much mainstream media attention due to the celebrities involved, the event has been criticised for largely excluding LGBTI groups, individuals and issues in its nominations.
Exit was nominated in the category of Media Award of the Year, but the newspaper said this week that it is distancing itself from the event.
In an editorial, it noted that it has in the past described the Feather Awards as “irrelevant and trivial” and questioned the significance of the categories, including “hot chick” and “socialite” of the year.
“Exit has decided to decline the nomination,” said Editor Gavin Hayward on the monthly’s front page. “We note that Chevrolet, the main sponsor of this event, have a proud history of affirmation of LGBTI rights, but the general frivolity and air-headedness associated with these ‘awards’ make it something which, at this time, we do not feel we can be associated with.”
Last month, openly gay singer and actor Majola wrote in Sunday World that the awards “seem to honour heterosexuals and misrepresent the complexity and seriousness of the LGBTI community.”
He explained: “Despite the high public profile of the event (broadcast on public television), they show a brazen disconnect from questions of justice and injustice – this on a continent crying out for courageous stand-taking against the violence and persecution of LGBTI people across Africa.”
Majola asked: “Is it unfair or overstated to wonder if Feather Awards offend against the dignity and aspirations of the community?”
In the US, the GLAAD Media Awards use public figures to create awareness and interest in the event, but all the celebrities honoured are recognised as allies for speaking out in favour LGBTI rights or are themselves members of the LGBTI community.
The Feather Awards will be held in Johannesburg on Wednesday night. The 2014 finalists are:
Best Styled Female
Best Styled Male
Hunk of the Year
Diva Extraordinaire of the Year
Sports Personality of the Year
Chad Le Clos
Role Model of the Year
Cutest Couple of the Year
Lalla Hirayama & Chris “The Mayor” Nkosi
Terry Pheto & Mampho Brescia
Lee-Ann & Nicki Van Der Walt
Hot Chick of the Year
Amanda du Pont
Media Award of the Year
Fag hag of the Year
Lalla & Chris
Musician of the Year
Socialite of the Year
Drama Queen of the Year
The Chomee, Arthur, DJ Euphonik & Bonang saga
Generations cast & Mfundi Vundla
AKA & Casper