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Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Gay > Rubrieke | Columns

Rubrieke | Columns


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Crime and contemplation
Christina Engela - 2011-12-15
Untitled Document This past week I have been contemplating crime ... that is, the concept of crime and punishment. People seem to think that punishment and the concept of consequence provides a framework of limitations which go beyond just saying "don't". Punishment implies the "or else ..." and waves a knobbly finger in the air. Some are so quick to demand the death penalty for a certain sort of crime, often without seriously considering the application, implications and consequences of all of...

There is in prejudice no fairness, nor equality
Christina Engela - 2011-12-07
We are all losing a little bit of our equality and freedom, a little bit at a time. All of us, in every social grouping, whatever the basis for discrimination or differentiation, are affected. We all belong to a race group, a gender, a sexual orientation, a personal expression, and have our own religious beliefs. How long before all of us are equal only in our disenfranchisement, powerlessness and despair? The looming Secrecy Bill is, I am certain, designed to cushion the State and ruling...

We are Big Brother
Christina Engela - 2011-12-01
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? This a Latin proverb meaning "Who will guard the guardians?" or "Who will watch the watchdogs?" Correct me if I'm wrong, but in a democracy that is the job for the people, the citizenry, the electorate, the body politic. That's us. We do. Or don't – depending on what little laws or obstacles those elected to power roll into the way to obstruct our view of what they are up to, post-fact. Or of course, unless they are lucky enough to have an electorate too...

Passing on the Torch
Christina Engela - 2011-11-23
Untitled Document It is very close to the end of another year, and the time has come again for me to reflect on the past, to take stock – and to chart a new course for my future in human rights activism. I started out as an activist for the human rights of the pink community, specifically with the SA Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (SA GLAAD) – an organisation I am still serving in – and have since also become more involved with other causes attached to human rights....

Lessons in love
Christina Engela - 2011-11-17
I love you ... The words are cheap and easily said these days, aren't they? I love you ... They can buy you happiness, trust, romance, company, wealth – anything your heart desires – if you use them well. Depending on your skill, and the extent of your desire, there is practically no limit to what you can achieve in this way. I love you ... The words are probably the most twisted, abused and misapplied words in the universe today – or any other day. I love you ... Some people...

Mirror, Mirror
Christina Engela - 2011-11-10
Untitled Document As a non-Christian I have never understood the need some people have to indoctrinate others, or to try and force their own views on them. When this sort of thing takes place during a time of grieving and mourning, such as at a funeral, it just makes it even worse. I have to wonder what they think, the people who arrange funerals and memorial services. Cheerful subject, I know – but do they assume that everyone who will come there is by default a Christian? I think they do....

Challenges of life
Christina Engela - 2011-11-02
Where it is safe to do so, transgender people should be out and proud. And where it isn't safe, they should be proud if not out – and they should still work for equality, dignity and human rights so that they – and the generations that are to come – can be out one day. Nobody cares about people they don't know about, folks. When people don't remind others that they really do exist, the haters, purists and bigots like to believe and pretend that they don't. Many people say that...

Dismantling fear
Christina Engela - 2011-10-27
Many transsexual people I have encountered over time have chosen to introduce themselves to friends or acquaintances as being more than "just" transsexuals. Instead of just being honest about having been biologically male or female, and having changed that, they invent stories about having been born intersex – presumably because in their minds the audience will somehow view them more sympathetically that way than if they were just honest to begin with. Obviously I am not referring to those...

Kicking the crutch
Christina Engela - 2011-10-20
Untitled Document The world around us is filled with people who are selfish, cocky and arrogant about their own religious beliefs. I say not these things because I resent the pride others take in their religion, but because the pride some of them take in their choice of beliefs boils over into a hatred of the religious choices of others who choose differently from them, and into persecution of those who dare to do so. When one looks at religions around the world today, few are so judgmental and...

Will somebody please think of the children?
Christina Engela - 2011-10-14
Untitled Document I regularly meet a friend of mine, who is a Christian reverend, for drinks at a local coffee shop. We enjoy casual chats about religion, persecution and human needs and frailties. He’s mentioned to me that there is no one Christianity, but many, and that today there are more than 200 different formally identified "mainstream" denominations – or "churches" – around the world. Ironically, each one considers itself to be the one true Christianity, or at least, the...

It makes sense, doesn't it?
Christina Engela - 2011-10-06
Untitled Document If you look at all the weird and wonderful new bills being tabled in South Africa these days there is little doubt in my mind that the Constitution and the freedoms contained within it are clearly under assault. And those of us whose civil rights and equality are protected by those very clauses in the Constitution which are under assault somehow seem unaware that we fill the sights and scopes on the weapons being directed at us by those who would chip away at our equality. The...

Yes, Wiccan
Christina Engela - 2011-09-08
I drive a Mazda, but I still know what a Mercedes Benz looks like. I have had Beetles, a Kombi, a Renault, a Toyota and a Golf as well. I realise they are all cars, and I at least have an idea of what makes each of them different from the other, and about the thing that makes them go. I also know that cars make travelling from one place easier and better. It doesn't mean I have to hate the other makes, or refuse to drive in whatever car my neighbour drives. What I’m trying to put across in...

Bollocks and bellyaching
Christina Engela - 2011-09-02
This afternoon I saw an article posted by a transsexual sister activist about the failings of the alliance of the pink community. The article was very melodramatic, bordering on the hysterical. In fact, I feel it was nothing short of a load of bollocks and bellyaching. GLB and I components of the pink community were labelled "captors" and "oppressors". And the remarks made on Facebook by the same activist, as well as by some others who agree with her, were disappointing and rather disparaging –...

System failure
Christina Engela - 2011-08-19
Any system of government where human or civil rights depend wholly on the public opinion of the moment is fundamentally flawed. Where did that come from? Well, it goes back to before we had the present Constitution in South Africa, when as a teenager I was threatened with being labelled a criminal because being gay was illegal in this country then. That's right – I was threatened with jail because I dared to consider that I might not be your average heterosexual cisgender boy. And in...

Bread and circuses
Christina Engela - 2011-08-11
Untitled Document Last week I had the pleasure of having to get up really early for work, at around 4 am, when all respectable birds were still asleep. It was while having breakfast a little later that I heard something faint, a kind of singing chant in the distance that reminded me of a Muslim call to prayer. I really had to strain my ears to pick it up, as the very light wind at that time of morning affected the clarity, and it faded in and out. It seemed to me that it might very well be that,...

Never say never
Christina Engela - 2011-07-27
A couple of things that happened this week bug me. Unfortunately I am currently hip-deep in work, and so haven't been able to write an article till now. However, when something bugs me long enough, my thoughts tend to stew over them for a while, until I just have to get it all down and post it. Anyone notice how closely the government’s new demand on the mining companies to hand out shares to local communities in their areas (and failure to comply will lead to asset seizures), resembles nationalisation?...

Relativity
Christina Engela - 2011-07-12
Untitled Document Depression is a problem, and there are people who suffer from it for perfectly good medical reasons. Then there are people who have a little disappointment at home, or in the office, who have issues with their appearance or who have a little bad luck in relationships. Their car breaks down for the fifth time in a week and they want to end it all. Their boss tramples on their feelings a little and they want to eat a 9 mm aspirin. Seriously? There are people imprisoned in a body...

Out and about
Christina Engela - 2011-07-05
Untitled Document Outing. How do you feel about it? I'm referring to the wilful public exposure of individuals against their will, and without regard for their health or well-being. Quite often this is an intentional act of spite – sabotage – intended to ruin the life of the victim. An act of malice, to injure them, sometimes an act of revenge. On Saturday I heard from a young friend that he had been outed and he was very distressed. It seems a love interest of his had tricked him...

I woke up this morning
Christina Engela - 2011-06-15
I woke up this morning, alone. The space beside me, cold and empty. You should have been there, but you weren’t. Your pride was too strong and you were too good for me, remember? Well, I do. How could I ever forget? You said you could handle my past; you said you could face the future by my side. But somehow both issues became just too steep for you to climb over. What I am and what I was before was just too much for you to accept or deal with; your misplaced faith that I could be anything...

Bed-knobs and broomsticks
Christina Engela - 2011-06-02
Untitled Document If people today think of anyone who is sexual, or who enjoys sex, as "immoral", "deviant" or "undesirable", it is because of religious indoctrination. If we think of people who abstain from all sexual activity, and those who remain virginal through their lives, living by a code that sex is for procreation and not enjoyment, it is because of the puritan hangover left us by folks who were too afraid to see themselves naked lest it caused them to think sinful thoughts – and...

Come to the dark side – we have cookies too
Christina Engela - 2011-05-19
Untitled Document Christians – you just can't seem to win with them. If you're gay, you're evil. If you're not religious, you're evil. If you're an atheist, you're a "willing pawn of the devil". If you believe in another god or gods, or even call their god by another name, you're evil. If you are tolerant of other faiths, or of homosexuals, then you're "misled", "backsliding" or ... yep, evil. If you're gay and a Christian (horror of horrors) they want to cut up your membership card and deny...

Not seeing is believing
Christina Engela - 2011-05-04
Untitled Document Ever hear a child put her hands over her ears, and sometimes also close her eyes, and chant loudly, "I can't hear you – lalalalala"? Aside from the old adage that there are none so blind as those who will not see, there are different names for this concept, such as "selective ignorance" and "self-imposed ignorance". I often use the term "wilful ignorance", because it fits better, due to the fact that it takes a conscious decision to decide to stay ignorant about an issue...

Spit or swallow?
Christina Engela - 2011-04-29
Untitled Document Belief is subjective: you don’t have to like somebody else’s beliefs any more than somebody else might agree with folks standing in church waving their hands in the air. Some folks see religion as chicken soup for the soul – well, some folks like their soup with croutons, others with noodles. Some like tomato, others butternut. It would be a boring old world if we all just stuck to "hearty beef" now, wouldn’t it? When I posted that on Facebook as a status,...

Are good Christians "too forgiving"?
Christina Engela - 2011-03-23
Are good Christians "too forgiving"? That's quite an interesting question, especially if you look at the "inerrant” scriptures which set the precedent for "turning the other cheek". Why do I think "good" Christians might be too forgiving? For that matter, why do I think there might be Christians who are not good, but bad? Why indeed? I’ve just read this article by Michael Hamar, and it – and the comments – brought a few things to my attention. First, that I am clearly not...

Weer tyd vir die Jerusalem Internasionale Boekefees
Egon - 2011-03-18
Elke tweede jaar is dit boekfeestyd – ek het al meermale in hierdie nuusbrief oor die fees geskryf en moet maar weer so maak. Lekker was tog nog nooit sleg nie. Hierdie jaar het ek besluit: ek pak my koffertjie en gaan bly vir die hele week in pelle wat oorsee is se woonstel. Dit was heerlik. Ek het my vir vier dae tuisgemaak en al die baie verloklikhede van die Heilige Stad ontsê om my in boeke te verdiep. Elke dag het ek tussen drie en vyf seminare oor boeke en skrywe bygewoon en gewonder...

The Parliamentary Drowning Pool
Christina Engela - 2011-03-18
Last weekend Mr Gay South Africa won the Mr Gay World contest – the second time a South African title-holder has walked away with the top honours of this prestigious event – and also incidentally, the second year of the Mr Gay SA event. To crown this achievement, South Africa has also been selected to host next year's Mr Gay World event in Johannesburg. This is undoubtedly a remarkable achievement, and something to be proud of – well, at least one would think so. Yesterday the...

Viva secularism, Viva!
Christina Engela - 2011-03-11
Many people today have moved beyond the confusion caused by mixing religion and affairs of the real world. Unfortunately there are still many people who cannot tell the two apart. To them there is no difference between politics, civil affairs, daily life and their own personal religious views. And for some unfathomable reason, whenever it is pointed out to them that they are being unfair for using their personal religious opinions to detract from the civil rights or equalities of others, they start...

Viva secularism, Viva!
Christina Engela - 2011-03-10
Many people today have moved beyond the confusion caused by mixing religion and affairs of the real world. Unfortunately there are still many people who cannot tell the two apart. To them there is no difference between politics, civil affairs, daily life and their own personal religious views. And for some unfathomable reason, whenever it is pointed out to them that they are being unfair for using their personal religious opinions to detract from the civil rights or equalities of others, they start...

Trek
Egon - 2011-02-10
Na ons heerlike rondloopsomer in Europa kom ons tuis en Judy sê so half uit die bloute: “Ek wil nie soos my ma oud word nie – omring deur eindelose stukkies papier wat ek nie eens meer onthou hoekom ek dit nie wou weggooi nie.” Sy begin sakke en dose vol ou papiere, notas, klasbeplannings en studente-naamlyste van die tagtiger- en negentigerjare deur die snippermasjien jaag en dra dan die swart sakke vol papierlinte na die herwinningsdrom toe. “Jou 1 500 boeke en al...

Free hate kills
Christina Engela - 2011-02-04
You believe in freedom of speech, don’t you? How about freedom of religion? You believe in that? I know I do. But every so often there are people who come along demanding that some forms of freedom of speech or expression of their religious beliefs are actually "hate speech" - like those nasty deviants and trolls, the homosexuals. Know what I mean? No? Well, let me tell you. A few years ago Uganda (yes - that Uganda, the little country in central Africa that most people in the Western world...

Broad-spectrum anti-idiotics
Christina Engela - 2011-01-26
"Before Carol was a Carol they were David, strange but true. Make some hard cash and any transsexual can become a woman." This is broadly speaking the comment someone made about somebody else in a discussion I was part of recently. They had it in for somebody whom they didn’t agree with on some or other matter, and went around posting articles and comments venting their dislike for them – and in each case pointing out the detail that they were "transsexual", only to have it pointed out...

Happy New Year?
Christina Engela - 2011-01-26
When I sat down to write today’s article I started off thinking about last year and all the things I felt good about. It’s my first article for the new year ... And then I thought about last year, and the year before that, and all the things that p’d me off during that time – and about how many of them are still applicable and have been carried over like “remainder” in some obscene parody of Sub A maths. I’m still ashamed to admit I live in a country...

Reading between the lines
Christina Engela - 2010-12-01
Apparently South Africa has gained a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council - for the second time. I can only imagine the kind of mayhem they could wreak if they ever got a permanent seat. As a South African of mixed sexual orientation and gender identity it makes me shudder. No, really. I love my home, and I love my country - but lately I cannot help but be ashamed of it. In the past 20 years I have seen this country rise from the depths of racist, heterosexist and theocratic abuse...

Driving while blind
Christina Engela - 2010-11-16
It is ironic in the extreme that there are people out there who are very vocal about their feelings, or so-called "moral convictions", on what you or I do in our private lives, whom we love, how we choose to express ourselves, about what makes us happy or how we differ from them in any way, shape or form – regardless of whether or not we cause any harm to anyone else or not. The irony, of course, lies in the detail that the same folks can’t stand the heat when others apply the same heat...

Yes, he can
Christina Engela - 2010-11-10
The past few days have given me some things to think about. The recent cabinet reshuffle in South Africa seems, so far at least, to be something to be glad about. Lulu was reposted somewhere else, away from arts and culture, presumably where she won’t be able to criticise and condemn works of art as "pornography" and "anti-family", and deputy minister of home affairs Malusi Gigaba was also "redeployed", hopefully where neither of them could cause further trouble by pushing their xenophobic...

City of apples, land of penguins
Christina Engela - 2010-11-02
Where do I live? I live in South Africa, a country which has one of the most advanced Constitutions on the planet in terms of human rights and equality for people like me. It’s a country full of contradictions, as a careful analysis will show. For me, as a transgender woman who doesn’t care much about the gender of my prospective partners, it’s my home, but also a place that occasionally makes me feel unwelcome enough to want to leave. It’s a place that on the one hand claims...

Who Are We? Why Are We Here?
Christina Engela - 2010-10-27
I sat down this morning wondering what our community is all about. I'm thinking about the Pink Community of course. Pink, because of the confusing array of acronyms we apply to describe ourselves, that almost always put some sub-groups before others, and invariably leave someone out. Pink, because of our association with the feminine, with the notion that we break the boundaries set for us by society, and because it flies in the face of some beliefs that pink represents weakness and inferiority –...

Holding Hands
Christina Engela - 2010-10-19
Last night I attended the inaugural meeting of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays), a new group in Port Elizabeth. It’s an initiative of one group I’m involved with, ECGLA (Eastern Cape Gay & Lesbian Association), and the PE branch of Lifeline. This initiative is the culmination of the past year’s co-operation between Lifeline PE and ECGLA to develop a community-focused counselling service for the Pink community in Port Elizabeth – and I have to admit, it’s...

Choice – A matter of perspective
Christina Engela - 2010-10-05
I was caught a little by surprise this weekend when I saw an article about conscription in the Old South Africa in which the author claimed that "conscription was a choice", and basically placed the blame for conscripts who served their year or two on them. The author claimed that they could well have made use of the loopholes to avoid national service if they so desired, as he did. There are some flaws in this theory of his, however, as I can attest. I am one of those white "men" who went to the...

Visiting two islands
Egon - 2010-09-30
Once upon a time I had a friend. His name was Bruce and he used to entertain me with stories of how as a young gay man he had fled the conservatism of South Africa. He had been to London. He had been to Italy. But the stories that stayed with me were his accounts of Mykonos. Walking the streets of Mykonos this past week, I found myself looking for Bruce. Of course, he is not here, because this week we have remembered not only his birthday but also his death eleven years ago. I wonder how he would...

Polly Wanna Cracker
Christina Engela - 2010-09-28
It seems that some people just know how to make a lasting impression. I suppose you could say they might have been reading a dog-eared copy of How to make friends and influence people, or might have, if it was available in their local religious book store, with suitable recommendations. In fact, some people will read or believe any old thing, as long as it is sold from such places, preferably with strong recommendations from folks like James Dobson or Erroll Naidoo, and assurances that it won’t...

Grow a pair
Christina Engela - 2010-09-21
Sadly, most trans people like being in the closet too much to get involved in educating the public on trans issues. I know of some others here in my city, and every one of them is flatly uninterested in exposing themselves to public view – leaving trans activism to non-trans people – and broadly speaking, giving them the opportunity to blame a lack of progress on others. Yes, of course it’s not easy exposing yourself to the world as a trans person – it’s hard enough...

Reja-vu
Christina Engela - 2010-09-15
POI is getting a whitewash from government, and from figures who think it is a good idea to censor the free press. Some say it will redress the wrongs under the still existing (yet hardly enforced) apartheid-era secrecy law. (Of course they are hoping that by their using the "A word" the lemmings will decide in favour of the POI without bothering to think further than "Oh it must be better then.") Instead of just scrapping it, or using the original draft replacement law from three years ago, which...

Blah, Blah, Click, Click
Christina Engela - 2010-09-08
I don’t think laws in South Africa are formulated by the South African people anymore – these days laws just reach the breaking news when they are about to be passed by parliament – like the POI and Media Tribunal – and as they clearly demonstrate, these are one-sided and extremely partisan, working against democracy. This is not transparency, this is not "due process". We need more "Glasnost" in South Africa! Everywhere, I hear people complaining about politicians and politics,...

Home truths
Christina Engela - 2010-09-02
I think everyone should experience what it’s like to lose their rights, even for just an hour or two, so they know how it hurts when you think how it might be to go through life being made to feel like a second-class citizen – a pariah – based solely on something you are, something you can’t change or help being – something those in power see as wrong or undesirable, particularly for no good reason other than that they feel like it, or their old favourite excuse: "’Cos...

X spots the mark
Christina Engela - 2010-08-26
On Saturday I was at a canvassing table in my voting district, asking people to sign a petition against the government’s proposed new legislation which will gag the media. Surprisingly, a broad base of people of every language, race and political affiliation signed the petition and commented freely about how bad this law would be for everyone. This was encouraging, but what still shocked me was the number of people who just waved me off – or laughed, as if there was something actually...

You, The People
Christina Engela - 2010-08-19
One thing I learned from history is that when you want to isolate and persecute any community, country or group, the first thing you do is to remove the thinkers, leaders and strong-willed from that group. Without them, the rest of the sheep will swallow just about anything the government spoons into the funnel called the media. Stalin did it, Hitler did it, Mugabe has done it - and if the ANC has its way, history will simply have repeated itself. The proposed new law to control the media...

Blind eyes, deaf ears
Christina Engela - 2010-08-12
Sometimes I get despondent because it feels like my efforts are wasted, my warnings go unheard, my words fall on deaf ears like seeds falling on hard, dry earth. It was just three short years ago when I first started my "career" in human rights advocacy and fighting for equality of the Pink community. I can still remember those days, when trying to warn of the very events unfolding now, I was labelled an "upstart" and "irrational" and "alarmist" by some prominent community figures. And yet, ironically,...

Wolves in the fold
Christina Engela - 2010-08-04
It’s pretty hard to deny that a lot of the world’s problems have roots in the activities of organised book religions like Christianity, which are less matters of personal faith and more systems of control. Yes, there are many loving, open-minded followers of this religion, and many Christians out there who follow its core beliefs of loving selflessly and accepting unconditionally. Unfortunately it is the intolerant minority which is shouting the loudest at present – the minority...

Leviticans blow it – the vuvuzela, Twilight and Star Wars fiasco
Christina Engela - 2010-07-28
Is the vuvuzela an instrument of the antichrist? Many people might think so, but most probably just at around 4 am during the World Cup. Some, however, seem intent on taking this pet hate beyond a joke and dragging the idea down a few levels – folks like these, who even compiled a study on the issue. Yes, they actually went into a detailed analysis of the various kinds of animal horns from biblical times and proceeded to defame the harmless looking plastic sports fan accessory (rapidly becoming...


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