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Thank you!

A big thank you to Bulelani Mzila for the kind donation! He said that “It’s the least I can do. GLN has always been so great in developing safe spaces for the LGBTI+ community. GLN also helped me a lot when I was unemployed. They do such great work and after all they have done, its our time to give back!” If you would like to assist the Network financially, please visit https://bit.ly/2NSN38I or come to our office at 19 Connaught Road, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg.

Closing the gap in transgender healthcare

The Gay & Lesbian Network held a transgender sensitization training with various members from the community. Amongst the participants were healthcare workers, mental health care workers, parents, partners and friends of transgender persons, as well as a few transgender people.

The presenters, Chris/tine McLachlan (Clinical Psychologist) and Elma de Vries (family physician and senior lecturer at University of Cape Town), focused on raising awareness and the sensitisation to the needs of transgender and gender diverse persons accessing health care.

Transgender persons experience multiple barriers to accessing health and healthcare services, including discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression, bodily characteristics and sexual orientation. A general lack of awareness, knowledge and sensitivity in healthcare communities leads to inadequate access to, under-utilisation of, and disparities with the healthcare system for the transgender population.

Barriers to care are encountered by transgender and gender diverse persons when seeking preventive medicine or routine and emergency care, and transgender-related services. These realities continue to be reported worldwide, and South Africa is no different. There also continues to exist a disparity between the available and standard of gender affirming healthcare within South Africa itself.

Anthony Waldhausen, director of Gay & Lesbian Network, says that “it is very important that we have these kinds of trainings in order to close the gap that exists between quality healthcare service provisioning and the ability of transgender and gender diverse persons to effectively and adequately access such services.” The participants fully engaged in the workshop, with many questions and discussions taking place. They reported that they enjoyed the training and found it very useful.

Annual General Meeting 2018

Our Annual General Meeting was a successful event and many of our supporters and allies attended. Our Programme staff gave feedback on the work that they have been doing. There were presentations from our chair, director and finance manager. Our very own Rainbow Theatre Group did a very moving performance, one that brought some of the audience members to tears.

We had special appearances by our members of our community based organisation, which our Outreach programme has been working closly with.

Siya Khumalo, author of the book titled You Have To Be Gay To Know God, was there to promote his book and do a book signing. He donated a copy of his book to Gay & Lesbian Network and it can be hired from our resource center (Friends of the network Member’s only).

You Have To Be Gay To Know God is available on AmazonRaru, Graffiti Books, and Exclusive Books.

Outrage as gay love story is heavily censored

The Gay & Lesbian Network is outraged that the Film and Publications Board has given Inxeba (The Wound) an X18 rating for age restriction– a rating that is normally given to hardcore porn.

“It is shocking! This completely goes against the constitution of South Africa” exclaimed the director of the Gay & Lesbian Network, Anthony Waldhausen.

Section 16 of the constitution states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media; freedom to receive or impart information or ideas; freedom of artistic creativity; and academic freedom and freedom of scientific research.” It also contains the following limitations to freedom of expression “The right in subsection (1) does not extend to propaganda for war; incitement of imminent violence; or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm.

There have been protests against the film, especially in the Eastern Cape, where Traditional Leaders have expressed concern that the film had ‘inaccurately portrayed the Xhosa initiation tradition and flouted cultural norms and practices’. The commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities have recently argued that the film is “blasphemous to the sacred rituals of initiation” and said the use of Jesus Christ and King Shaka Zulu “poses a concern in our young democracy and the film may incite violence”.

On 14 February it was announced that “The Film and Publication Board (FPB) Appeal Tribunal has overturned the classification rating of 16 [for language and sex] that was given to the film Inxeba – The Wound and gave it a rating of X18 with the classifiable elements of Sex, Language, Nudity, Violence and Prejudice.”

The film has claimed eight South African Film and Television Awards (Safta) nominations, including Best Actor, Best Directing and Best Film. It has also won 19 awards at 44 festivals in more than 25 countries, including South Africa. The film was shortlisted for this year’s Academy Awards in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. However, it did not make onto the final nominations list.

Inxeba premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in 2017. It tells the story of Xolani, a lonely factory worker, who joins the men of his community in the mountains of the Eastern Cape to initiate a group of teenage boys into manhood.  When a defiant initiate from the city discovers Xolani’s best-kept secret, a closeted love affair, his entire existence begins to unravel.

The Gay and Lesbian Network will be working with other LGBTI organisations and allies in South Africa to exert pressure on the Film and Publications Board to reverse its decision, said Waldhausen. We urge everyone to sign an online petition at http://ow.ly/lpps30ipVUp

We would also like to invite the public to a screening and discussion on Saturday 24 February at the Univerysity of KwaZulu Natal (Pietermaritzburg Campus) at the William O’Brian hall at 2pm.

Simple and affordable ways to spend Valentine’s Day (even if you’re single!)

It’s that time of year when love is in the air- Valentine’s Day! We have some great simple and affordable ideas that you can use to show those you love how much they mean to you. And this doesn’t just mean your partner or crush- you can also show yourself, your friends, family and even your pets that you appreciate them!

For your partner or crush:

  • Leave a note in his or her briefcase or purse so they’ll see it when they get to work.
  • Make your own Newlyweds-style game: write down questions like “Where did we have our first kiss?” and “What’s my favorite movie?” See if your answers match.
  • Give a massage or back scratch (without expecting one back).
  • Try something new in the bedroom.
  • Have a scavenger hunt, even if it’s just around the house: leave clues and have a sweet surprise at the end.
  • Go on a walk and talk about your favorite memories.
  • Take a romantic bubble bath together.
  • Have a picnic at their favorite outdoor place.
  • Teach each other something. Does your partner know Photoshop? Do you know play the guitar? Spending quality time together by teaching each other something new will bring you closer together.
  • Re-create your first date.
  • Write down a list of the qualities you love most about them — things you don’t mention on a daily basis but that mean a lot to hear.
  • Turn off your cell phone, TV and computers and spend the night playing board games or card games instead.
  • A hand written card and personalised coupons are free and fun!
  • Make a playlist of all of the songs that remind you of your significant other.

For yourself:

Never forget to love yourself! Self-love counts as anything that makes you happy and aids to your health and well-being.

  • Take a long, hot, bubble bath by candle light.
  • Get yourself some flowers or a single rose.
  • Pamper yourself with a body treatment, or go for one at your local spa.
  • Watch your favourite movie or listen to your favourite music.
  • Say at least three positive things about yourself.
  • Remind yourself of everything that you have to be grateful for.
  • Spend time with people that you care about.
  • Do something that makes your soul happy. You may want to do some yoga or meditation, or spend some special time praying.

For your friends and family:

  • Buy a bag of chocolates or make some heart shaped cookies and give one to all of your special people.
  • If you can afford it, get them a small gift to show your appreciation.
  • Write them a letter or make a card. Even a small note will let them know you care!
  • Send them a special text on the day.
  • Volunteer together at an organisation that you support.
  • Have a craft day. You may want to have a look on the internet for some ideas that everyone would enjoy doing.
  • Go hiking at your favourite outdoor spot.
  • Have a picnic with simple, healthy food.
  • Have a game night! Good old fashioned board games and card games means the whole family can take part.

For your pets:

  • Do something they enjoy. Play ball with your dog or take him for a walk; give your cat some catnip or play with them; let your hamster run in his ball. Each pet will enjoy different activities, but be such they are having fun!
  • Spoil them with a special treat. Just be sure that whatever you give them is healthy, and this means staying away from candy! You can also search the internet for special recipes for your specific type of pet.
  • Get them something new- a new toy, a new jersey or bowl- the list is endless.
  • Take them to the parlour. Just be sure you use one that is reputable and take note of how they treat your pet. Your pet’s behaviour will also give you insight as to how they are treated.
  • Arrange for a professional photo shoot. Although your phone is probably already full of cute pictures of your pets, professional pet portraits are something you can cherish forever.

Whatever you plans are for this Valentine’s Day, be sure to do it with love.

Rapists who tried to turn teenage lesbian straight are out on bail

A 17 year old girl from Watersmeet, just outside of Ladysmith, who is open about her sexual orientation (she identifies at a butch lesbian) was viciously attacked and raped by two men who reside near her home. This is the third time in her young life that she has been raped by men who believe that savagely raping a lesbian will ‘turn her heterosexual’ and make her ‘a real women’.

This is known as ‘corrective rape’ which is the use of rape against people who do not conform to perceived social norms regarding human sexuality or gender roles. This means that the rape was premeditated, intentional and accompanied by malicious aforethought.

The bail hearing for the alleged rapists, one is 22 years old and the other is 20 years old have continuously been postponed, and today (4 December 2017) at the Magistrates Court in Ladysmith, bail was set at a measly R1000 for each perpetrator. It is alleged that this is the second time that that one of the perpratators has raped the victim. The hearing will be held on 26 January.

The Gay & Lesbian Network (GLN) is deeply saddened by this news. The GLN team have been supporting the young lady in terms of reporting the case to the National Task Team and the Rapid Response Team, both of whom respond to Hate Crimes. The case has being heard during the 16 days of activism against gender based violence. Londeka Xulu, the Outreach Programme coordinator at GLN says “It is devestating to see how the LGBTI+ community is still at such a risk. In terms of the law, we are protected, but in reality we aren’t.”

A hate crime is an offence by which a person is motivated on the basis of that person’s prejudice, bias or intolerance towards the victim of the hate crime in question because of one or more characteristics or perceived characteristics of the victim. GLN have also been counselling her and have referred her for further help.

One needs to take into account the nature of the rights of the victim and the nature of the crime; the severity of the emotional and psychological damage, as well as the fact that the impact of hate crimes and hate speech extend beyond the victim, and to the group to which the victim belongs or is perceived to belong.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of a hate crime, please contact GLN for free counselling and referrals for further assistance if required. We also offer workshops for various stakeholders as well as sensitization training.

GLN is a registered Non-Profit Organisation which does pioneering work with the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) other marginalised communities and people. We aim to create a non-discriminatory, supportive and accepting society in which members of all communities are uplifted and developed. This is done though our various programmes.

You can help us continue the work that we do by assisting with donations and/or volunteering. Please call 033 342 6165 or email info@gaylesbian.org.za for more information.

Thank you for the generous donation!

The Gay and Lesbian Network (GLN) would like to express our deepest gratitude for the kind donation from Mark Butler. He recently gave a very generous donation which will go towards the work that GLN does to ensure equality, respect and acceptance. GLN runs various programmes which take a holistic approach to improving the lives of marginalised communities, primarily the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community. These programmes include outreach, health, research and a unique creating an enabling environment, which focuses on educating and sensitising various stakeholders.

Butler had the following to say’ “First of all, it’s a terrible indictment on us as a society, as a community, that the Network needs to exist at all. It really shouldn’t be too much to ask that, as humans first & fundamentally, all of us love all of us – without qualification, without reservation, without fear, and without hatred. But the truth is we do fail – repeatedly and systematically. Scourges like racism, sexism, elitism, xenophobia, and queer-&homo-phobia are much too commonplace. So there’s lots of work to be done to affirm everyone’s fundamental humanity and dignity; to challenge prejudice and hatred; and to comfort and heal the many who are hurt and damaged by our failures of love and humanity. Giving support – and cash – to organisations like ‘Maritzburg’s Gay and Lesbian Network is one part of that work.”

The money that he donated is extra special, as it comes from his late mother’s estate. GLN would like to take this opportunity to remind the public of our bequest programme, in which you are able to include GLN in your will.  You can always make a difference in someone else’s life by assisting in any way that you can, whether it is by donation of money, food, clothes or volunteering your time. As GLN is a non-profit organisation and relies on donations, all bequests and donations are exempt from tax.

Please help us grow vegetables!

The Gay & Lesbian Network staff are growing a vegetable garden to help feed the communities which we work with. This has been taken up by the staff wellness committee, and has become a teambuilding exercise for staff members.

Many of our beneficiaries have been disowned by their family and most battle to find work. One of the ways in which we can help is by providing food. After moving to our new office last year, the staff has designated an area for our vegetable garden, and we recently had a wellness day of planting some more vegetables. These have taken off well and some are nearly ready to harvest!  Sadly, we do not have all the necessary tools available to us and we use a polystyrene cup to water the garden. Other activities, like digging and clearing, are all done by hand.

Growing veggies for wellbeing

Staff at the Gay & Lesbian Network have been working on our veggie garden! We have planted an array of vegetables which will be used to feed our beneficiaries. This also forms a part of our staff wellness program. The Gay & Lesbian Network ensures optimum commitment and services for the upliftment and recognition of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community through creative programmes that foster equality, respect and acceptance.

As a NPO we rely on donations and sponsorship. This money goes towards our programmes, which foster the upliftment and recognition of the LGBTI community. The Gay & Lesbian Network is a registered non-profit organisation which is Tax exempt and has Section 18A(1) status which means that every cash donation you make to the Network is TAX DEDUCTIBLE. If you are interested in helping us, we are looking for gardening tools, seeds, plants, a bench and a table.

If you would like further information, please contact 033 342 6165 or email info@gaylesbian.org.za

 

 

 

Local artist sets off for the United Kingdom

Thobeka “TK” Bhengu (29) is a human rights activist, performer, choreographer and an artistic director of the Rainbow Theatre Company, a project of the Gay & Lesbian Network based in Scottville.  After her first collaboration with an internationally renowned artist and visual activist Zanele Muholi, a saxophonist Sebenzile Langa and a spoken word artist Andiswa Dlamini in Ohio, USA in October last year, local artist Thobeka Bhengu will be performing her experimental  work titled  ‘(Un)African’ in London, United Kingdom  at the Autograph Gallery at Rivington Place. She was invited by Zanele Muholi to create and perform at Muholi’s solo exhibition entitled ‘Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama’ that will be showing between the 13thJuly -28th October 2017. Bhengu will be departing on the 8th of July and she will be returning on the 16th of July.

Her new solo work is an exploration of culture, tradition and religion. Where she explores from her personal view how certain beliefs are used by a majority of African countries to reinforce homophobia. An idea that they have spent the past two months exploring with the Rainbow Theatre Company in an upcoming production entitled Safe Spaces. She is hoping to continue experimenting with the work for a while after her trip and believes there is room for the work to evolve after its debut in London.

Her hopes for the trip are to explore the culture, visit historic sites, and see some performances and also get a chance to network with other artists and potential funders. Bhengu hasn’t planned any tourist activities since she feels she’ll learn more by talking to locals than booking an official tour of the city. Local artists continue to wave our flag high and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors.