Nelson Mandela dies

nelsonmandela

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, father of modern South Africa, died today at the age of 95.

After spending 27 years in prison under apartheid, Mandela led his country in a peaceful transition toward democracy and equality. The country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission became a model for peace.

The LGBT community will remember Mandela as a friend. The new South African constitution became the first one in the world to guarantee equal rights based on sexual orientation and allow same-sex marriage.

Mandela served as South Africa’s president from 1994-1999. He had been released from prison in 1990. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and 250 additional honors including the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.

—  David Taffet

Not just a ‘third-world’ problem

News of yet another ‘corrective rape’ in South Africa makes headlines, but a quick bit of research shows the U.S. faces similar problems

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

I grew up in a different age. It was the 1950s and everyone was supposed to live in a Donna Reed family with 2.5 kids and a dog. At home, Father knew best and wives were re-christened “homemakers,” clearly showing their place in the family hierarchy.

Outside the hetero-normative illusion, there were those strange folks who lived on the shadowy fringes of society. They were never called by name, but I soon learned they were “pansies” and presented a marked difference in their mannerisms and speech.

One group that was never spoken of was lesbians. They were there, but so invisible they were beyond consideration.

Oh sure, I had female gym teachers who were more masculine than any pre-teen boy ever hoped to be, but they were “athletic.” And my maiden aunt and her “friend” who lived together for 30 years after serving in the WACs were just “spinsters” who never met the right man.

When I finally did hear of lesbians, it was in the context of some strange porn fantasy. The voyeuristic thrill of watching women together was an ideal teenager fantasy, at least for straight male teenagers.

Over and over again I heard men and teens boasting that the only “problem with lesbians is they never got it from the right man.”

It seemed that men — or more specifically a man’s penis — could solve any problem when it came to sexual orientation.

That myth has died down somewhat in this country. But apparently it is alive and well in South Africa.

A 13-year-old girl who was perceived as a lesbian was “correctively raped” in that country. The savage attack on her is not the first, as violence against lesbians increases. Last month, well-known LGBT activist Noxolo Nogwaza was murdered, presumably because of her sexual orientation.

The trend toward men raping lesbians to “fix” them has risen alarmingly in a country with some of the most progressive laws in the world concerning LGBT people. In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, Dipika Nath, a researcher with Human Rights Watch said, “The vicious nature of the assault is a potent reminder that these attacks are premeditated, planned, and often committed with impunity.”

This isn’t a new trend. Last year last, Eudy Simelane, former star of South Africa’s national female football squad, was a victim of a “corrective rape.” She did not survive the gang rape and subsequent stabbings.

So far the South African government has not made these crimes a priority. A “committee” was formed to investigate the latest case, but this has been going on for several years.

You might think this is just a problem in Africa. Well, think again.

An American judge, Joseph A. Rehyansky (actually a part-time magistrate), was quoted as saying in an online interview that lesbians should be allowed to serve in the military and not gay men.

Why? Well this quote explains it pretty well: “It would get the distaff part of our homosexual population off our collective ‘Broke Back,’ thus giving straight male GIs a fair shot at converting lesbians and bringing them into the mainstream.”

He goes on to further muse about evolution: “It fell to men to swing through the trees and scour the caves in search of as many women as possible to subdue and impregnate — a tough job but someone had to do it.”

Once again all those pesky lesbians need is the right penis!

Old myths die hard, and this one has a zombie-like ability to resurface again and again. I have to wonder what it will take to put a stake in its heart forever.

I serve on the board of a non-profit human rights organization, and I am amazed at how people in the United States always think “human rights violations” are things that only happen in third-world countries.

Well, welcome to reality. If you consider sexuality a basic human right, the U.S. scores pitifully. With attitudes like Rehyansky’s and with the continued myth of “corrective rape” that apparently is still in our nation’s consciousness. we still have a long way to go.

It’s time we began looking at the reality of human rights in our own country. It’s time we discarded the 1950s mythos when most problems could be solved by just letting the “right man” handle the job.

I am reminded of the adage that says, “To a carpenter with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Well, being a lesbian is not a problem, and it certainly doesn’t need fixing by a man swinging his “hammer.”

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

—  John Wright

10 countries now allow same-sex marriage

Associated Press

NEW YORK — A leading rights group says 10 countries have legalized same-sex marriage in the past decade.

But Human Rights Watch said in a survey released Monday that bias continues against people who want to marry people of the same gender in those 10 countries and many others.

Boris O. Dittrich of the group’s gay rights program says that the growing number of countries legalizing same-sex marriage demonstrates progress in sexual equality around the world.

The first same-sex marriages took place in the Netherlands on April 1, 2001. The countries that followed were Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina.

—  John Wright

Joel Burns is YouTube Gold

Joel Burns

Joel Burns hit the top of the YouTube charts with his anti-bullying video and it’s having an impact, as we wrote in this week’s Dallas Voice.

On Thursday, the two-week-old “It Gets Better” video hit 2 million views. It continues to receive more than 2,000 views per hour.

For the month it is the most discussed video in News & Politics and received the most votes as favorite video this month as well.

And the video is popular around the world.

It’s the No.1 1 News & Politics video this month in Sweden.

In News & Politics, it’s No. 2 in Canada and the United Kingdom, and in Australia and Ireland, it’s No. 3.

It’s in the top 10 in India, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa and France. Although not as popular in Russia, it’s still ranks No. 105 there and it hasn’t been translated into Russian, as far as I know.

In all, the video gets 46 YouTube honors.

According to the YouTube map, it’s been seen in every country in the world except a couple in central Africa.

Through yesterday, the daily number of viewers has continued to steadily grow. The YouTube page has gotten more than 27,000 comments. Of the 2 million views, only 525 clicked dislike before leaving the page.

—  David Taffet

No place like home

Linze Serell began her Miss Charity America reign nine years ago, just not like you think.

“I was first runner-up for nine years,” Bill Lindsey says. “This year, I thought I’d give it another try.”

Serell is the alter ego of Lindsey and this year, he took the title for the first time after 11 total tries. But winning or not, this pageant is more than sparkles and makeup.

For 20 years, Miss Charity America has been the main fundraiser for Home for the Holidays, which sends people living with AIDS home during the season.

“It’s been a blessing to stick around this long,” he says. “I think we’re the only organization of our kind in the country.”

Last year, the organization provided travel for 23 people, including sending some home to South Africa. Although Lindsey says Home for the Holidays has lingered on the bottom of the list for AIDS funding, it has received help and acknowledgement from the likes of

American Airlines and Black Tie. This could be a new start for the organization, but that makes Miss Charity America no less important.

“Oh yes, this event is the life source of our organization,” Lindsey says.

— R.L.

Best Friends Club, 2620 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth. 7 p.m. $5. All proceeds benefit the organization. HomeForTheHolidaysTexas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas