Monday, February 22, 2010

Porn Star or Ambassador?

The South African Charl van der Berg won the World Wide Mr. Gay in Norway last week amidst controversy of his porno past. A restaurant manager from Cape Town he now holds this coveted title and will be the ambassador of the gay community for the next year. Also known as “Chad” in the local porn industry, apart from his tiara, he also boasts crown jewels of 8 inches, uncut and is a top and likes masturbating in front of the camera for your viewing pleasure. The director of Mr. Gay World zealously defended their position for choosing van der Berg as their winner, painting van der Berg as another casualty of the exploitative porn industry. This led me to ask, can one really be a helpless victim if you knowingly expose yourself to the dodgy world of adult entertainment?

In a statement Mr. Gay World was quoted as saying “Porn is an integral part of the gay lifestyle - it's just that most guys don't have the guts to do what I did.” This is true, porn does feature significantly in the gay community and very few gay men can deny possessing or having watched pornography (well the honest ones at least). However, actually starring in one is a whole different “ball game”. Apart from the odd amateur home movies (that are not meant for mass release) I honestly don’t have any friends or acquaintances that have starred in an adult film. Whether my social circle lacks the guts to bare it all on camera is open to debate but I do suspect that this has less to do with actual guts and more to do with repercussions.

As we have seen with beauty pageants across the world naughty pictures and videotapes have an ominous tendency to surface at the most inconvenient of times. For some embarrassing photos will end their pageant careers and for others it will lead them to new paths of success. Either way, once it reaches the newsstands the damage is done, explanations and excuses are abundant always begging the question what the hell were they thinking? Some have teary confessions and explain how they were young and naive, others how they were broke and needed to eat. Very few ever thought those images would be made public, very few thought they would ever be in a position where people, apart from their parents, would care...

Stripping down for the camera, playing with yourself or gaining “carnal knowledge” of another person(s) for money may seem like a good idea at the time and even a secret fantasy for others but, what is the true reality for a porn star? Not being a porn star myself I can only speculate. Personally, I would be concerned about the people who would be slobbering over my porn performances and excreting God knows what bodily fluids at my expense. More frightening would be if someone recognizes you in public, especially if they were a devoted fan, screaming “Is that you? Are you that guy from Everybody Does Raymond?” The worst would be at a family gathering and one of your straight cousin’s new boyfriend’s pulls you aside and in a hushed voice tell you how he enjoyed your new film and eagerly asks if you do private performances accompanied with a psychotic wink.

On the plus side I suspect that porn actors do not have many lines to rehearse and no complicated method acting skills are required. Direction should also be easy to follow as “OK, so you suck him and grab his balls, then you lick his crack then you pound his ass first doggy style then missionary, then you cum and you’re done!” could not be that hard to screw up. The only true challenges would be where they position those cameras and lights and avoiding light bulb burns and contracting some sexually transmitted disease.

Coming back to Mr. Gay World and his porno past, apparently he made one jerk off movie and there may also be photos floating around on the web. But do the making of one video and a few pictures actually make Charl van der Berg a veteran porn star? I think not! Sure he may have had a lapse of judgment, but then again everyone makes mistakes. The fact that he stood up and faced the music in a respectable manner says plenty about his character. So do I think he’s a suitable ambassador for the international gay community, yes I do. The GLBT community is not without our flaws and neither is South Africa. Having our own president embroiled in sex scandals with bastard children popping up with what seems to be everywhere, why can’t we be proud of our own homegrown Mr. Gay World even if he had made one dirty little film.

Till next time.

Hal the Misinterpretive Porn Star

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Are you prepared to die for what you are?

Being Gay and African have for long been considered taboo in many African countries. Even in present day emotions runs high when it comes to homosexuality and in the past week attempts on the lives of homosexuals in Africa have been reported yet again. Having travelled to some of these intolerant countries I must say I enjoyed the diversity of people, cultures and stunning fauna and flora but in the same breath found the festering fear, hatred and concealed homophobia disturbing. I have always researched the country I am to visit stance on homosexuality to prepare myself for any potential problems I may encounter - an essential task for any gay traveler. Anyone planning on visiting Africa here is a brief breakdown of homophobia on the continent and also asks the question: Are you prepared to die because of what you are?
First with the good news, African countries where homosexuality is legal for both Gays and Lesbians are South Africa, Rwanda (for now), Réunion, Madagascar, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Côte dl’voire, Cape Verde and Benin. Queerly, in some African countries homosexuality between two men are illegal but lesbianism is not. Therefore, for all our dykes out there it’s safe to visit Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland. Evidently two women engaging in sexual acts are far less “unnatural” and more palatable in these countries which led me to infer that these laws were drafted by chauvinistic heterosexual bigots harboring sexual fantasies about threesomes with a lesbian couples and repressing their own flaming homosexual desires.
In some African countries homosexuality is illegal but not strictly enforced. In these countries being gay is unlawful but would not necessarily see you end up in jail or fined. Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros, Angola and Mali are such countries. Even though these countries don’t strictly enforce these laws it by no means suggest that gay travelers should take unnecessary chances or risks, best be cautious and discreet. In other African countries these laws are enforced and the penalties are less harsh, in a few the maximum prison sentences are up to 3 years. These countries include Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Guinea, Liberia, Burundi and Botswana.
African countries best to avoid on your travels where the prison sentences are more than 5 years are Libya (up to 5 years), Gambia (up to 14 years), Nigeria (up to 14 years), Senegal (up to 5 years), Cameroon (up to 5 years), Djibouti (up to 12 years), Eritrea (up to 10 years), Ethiopia (up to 5 years), Kenya (up to 14 years), Zambia (up to 15 years) and Zimbabwe (up to 10 years). In these countries the reality of imprisonment are very real especially for their citizens. How these nations believe that homosexuals will be rehabilitated of their sexual preference in prison boggles the mind. Yet each year homosexuals go to jail and each year the fear grows.
Life imprisonment and the death penalty for the “crime” of homosexuality are still enforced in Africa. It’s frightening that the sentence of life imprisonment is still upheld in Tanzania and Uganda. Even more horrifying is the fact that in Sudan, Mauritania and Somalia the death penalty for homosexuality are still a legitimate sentence and enforced. These 5 African countries must be the worst offenders of human rights abuses towards homosexuals in Africa. However, Uganda tops my top 10 list of worst offenders. Not only is life imprisonment not enough now they also want to enforce the death penalty. As many know Uganda has an Anti-Homosexuality Bill which they hope to pass in their parliament. This bill has also been called the Genocide Bill as effectively it calls for the eradication of all homosexuals and HIV+ people in Uganda. Should this bill pass the consequences are dire and many people will die because they are gay.
Africa still has a long road ahead moving from a dark continent of intolerance and homophobia to a continent of peace and unity; Slowly but surely countries are enlightened and its people’s eyes are opened to new possibilities and a brighter futures. Luckily, I live in one such country on the southernmost tip of Africa. Being a South African I can’t honestly say I am proud of our neighboring fellow Africans. I don’t approve of their ancient laws and practices victimizing and persecuting my fellow gay brothers and sisters. I don’t condone the silence of the international community when human rights abuses occur in Mother Africa. Change does not happen overnight and neither can it succeed in silence. So there you have a breakdown of homophobia on the African continent. Should you be travelling to any of these countries be safe and be warned.

Till next time.

Homosexuality in Uganda

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell

Every now and again I receive an e-mail from one of my readers that intrigues me. This week I received a gem from Michael Anthony in which he explains how a real veteran view "Don't Ask Don't Tell".

My name is Michael Anthony, I am an Iraq war veteran and having spent six years in the Army, at the age of twenty-three, I have spent more than a quarter of my life in service to this country. I have four older brothers and an older sister, all of whom have been in the military: Air Force, Marines and Army. My father and both my grandfathers were in the military.

Hailing originally for a small sheltered town just south of Boston Massachusetts, I say this in all earnestness: the only gay people I know have all been in the military. This is not a joke or some talking point, it’s literal. Generals, Commanders and Civilians can talk all they want, but the fact of the matter is, the only gay friends I've had have all been in the military, in fact, my only experience of gay people (outside of the military) is when I once watched and episode of the TV show Will and Grace (it was kind of funny).

For the policy known as Dont' Ask Don't Tell (DADT), there is one thing people often forget. People forget that the policy doesn’t preclude gay people from entering the military it just precludes them from talking about their homosexuality. In short, someone can be gay in the military; they just can’t talk about being gay in the military.

If people are already in the military and gay — from my former unit alone I know close to a dozen — what is it that people are afraid will happen with the repeal of DADT? Are people afraid that the day after DADT is rescinded; gay soldiers are going to walk in wearing a feather boa and buttless fatigues? The uniform policy will still be in effect so we can cross that option out. Are people afraid that it’s going to hurt troop morale? The Military suicide rate is at a thirty year high having consistently risen for the past five years, with eighteen veterans killing themselves everyday (according to the VA) so it seems like it can’t get any worse.

With everything said, there is a negative aspect to repealing DADT. Having been in the military all my adult years, my peer group is filled with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. Several of these war veterans having done two or three tours, have sworn that they will never go back to Iraq or Afghanistan. Upon further questioning on how they plan to get out deployment if called, their answer is simple: “don’t ask, don’t tell,” expounding further, they say that if they’re called up, they will simply kiss a member of the same sex — in front of their commander. So how is repealing DADT going to affect the military? The answer is simple…my friends who jokingly suggested using DADT as a way to get out of a deployment are now stuck going to Iraq or Afghanistan.

And please don’t even get me started on the escapades that go on overseas. But hey, what happens in Iraq stays in Iraq…ahh not quite.

Michael Anthony is the author of MASS CASUALTIES: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Deception and Dishonor in Iraq (Adams Media, October 2009).

The book is drawn from the personal journals of Anthony during the 1st year he spent serving in Iraq. It is a non-partisan look at some of the escapades that go on behind the scenes in Iraq.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Shattered Glass of Pope Benedict XVI

People who live in glass houses should not throw stones but I guess this exclude those whose glass houses are bullet proof and sheltered by faith. His holiness Pope Benedict XVI seems to be one such individual. Being the spiritual leader and earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church his holiness is safely nestled away in his Apostolic Palace within Vatican City and appears to be a radical traditionalist and a bigot. Having been quoted in 2008 as saying “Saving the world from Homosexual acts is as important as saving the rain forest” and recently stating that British gay equality legislation violates 'natural law' he is fast becoming unpopular not only amongst gay rights groups but the general public as well. The Roman Catholic Church has not been without its own transgressions and scandals and this led me to ask: Should we take moral direction from a religious group that can’t even keep their own morals and integrity in check?
It is no secret that I don’t approve of organized religion. My personal experience with Churches has been filled with hypocrisy. Being gay in organized religion (much like the fashion industry), one day you’re in and the next day you are out! It’s all horribly confusing but the Catholic Church has stayed the course when it comes to homophobia and their stance is unwavering. Quite interesting when one takes into account that Vatican City has an estimated population of 826, the majority of which are males wearing dresses. Not to mention the homoerotic nuances of religious ceremonies with altar boys helping the priests prepare and then there is the Pope with his rather attractive male personal secretary- the hunky Monsignor Georg Gänswein. This could be any elderly gay man’s ultimate fantasy having a young good looking man at your beg-and-call 24/7. But I digress...
Through the years the Catholic Church have been battered with a number of sex scandals and indiscretions. For years the abuse of children and the predatory Priests and other members of the Catholic religious order who violates children have been shuffed under the rug and the extent of the molestations kept secret. However, these odious acts became less of a secret when the media first started to report on them in Canada, Ireland and in the United States (to mention but a few countries). Still the Church fell short of admitting it had a problem and still it hasn’t changed how they treat allegations of child abuse by its clergy and not to mention the lack of any forthcoming apology. Yet, the Church preaches good moral values and depicts homosexuality as violating natural law.
Another bizarre statement by the Pope “The scourge [of AIDS] cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem” I find extraordinarily harmful. Does the Church not understand the extent of the HIV pandemic? If they can’t even keep their own clergy from abstaining from sex how do they think the rest of the world would fare adopting a responsible and moral attitude towards sex? Claiming that the Roman Catholic Church is on the forefront of fighting HIV and AIDS, his statement made me seriously doubt the efficiency of their weaponry in this battle. The archaic stance on condoms is a reflection of an institution yet to truly understand the reality most of its followers face, but some within the Catholic Church are divided on this issue as those who work with AIDS patients see this disease’s devastation first hand.
Persisting chauvinistic theories in the Catholic Church also still appear to dominate most of their policies and functions. Woman still are excluded from positions of authority in the Church and the proverbial glass ceiling seems to be tempered and will not shattered anytime soon. The Vatican has shown little sign of making provisions for gender equality within its ranks and all appear docile and silent on the subject matter. The “good Catholic wives and mothers” are ignored and have to be content with their status; all the nuns who have a desire and calling to be priests will not have their desires met. There seems to be no conscience on this issue in Rome, not even an inkling of an episcopal conscience about the potential harm this inequality may cause the Church in the future.
After all is said and done, one can’t contest the power and the reach the Roman Catholic Church has with Pope Benedict XVI now firmly at its helm. Homosexuality is still viewed as against natural law, ancient attitudes about modern phenomena still prevails, the Church is still a chauvinistic dominated machine and scandals and indiscretion amongst clergy still occurs and are concealed. For many they still will draw strength and gain moral direction from the Roman Catholic Church and their faith will remain strong. Others will lose trust in the Church and seek spiritual guidance elsewhere. One thing is certain, no human being is perfect and no religious group is either. Proclaiming perfection is unattainable even for Pope Benedict XVI. Where you choose to gain moral guidance is up to you but best make sure you choose wisely and that your glass house stay strong. I wish his holiness Pope Benedict XVI well with his upcoming visit to the United Kingdom later this year, and hope his holiness will be more open to the changing times, throw no more rocks and leave behind less shattered glass.

Till next time

Kathy Griffin on Catholics

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Gay Marriage: Just Like Katrina Only Worse!

The apocalyptic consequences of two gay people in a loving relationship and wanting to get married. This is how Gay Marriage will destroy the world!

Parody of NOM's "Gathering Storm"

Monday, February 1, 2010

Scared Heteroseparatists

Every now and again I get sent YouTube Videos or links to articles by my friends and blog readers; and every so often a couple of these videos and articles gets my blood boiling. This past week was no different: I was sent an advertisement by a group of people opposed to gay marriage and referred to a blog post by a “heteroseparatist” both claiming that gay marriage threatens society. After rolling my eyes several times, sighing out of pure frustration and my mind meandering through strange crevices trying to understand their flawed logic I was left with one question, why are these people so petrified of gay marriage?
Being blessed to live in South Africa (a country where homosexuality and gay marriage is legal), we have pretty much proven that since gay marriage was legalized, just over 3 years ago, the sky hasn’t fallen. My marriage is yet to destroy society and the recession and natural disasters of late had nothing to do with my marital status or that of my fellow queers’ marital bliss. The only threat to the sanctity of marriage could be the fact that gays have now put the “Happy” back into marriage and God forbid our marriages outlast those of our heterosexual counterparts. Apart from the fact that our marriage is of the same gender and natural procreation have to be assisted with modern technology there is no real difference between my marriage and that of my neighbor. To my knowledge, since I legally wedded my husband, my marriage has not directly caused the divorce of any heterosexuals, affected their marriages and gay marriage was not cited as the root cause of any marriage being dissolved in Divorce Court.
Gay marriage rightfully could be seen as challenging traditions in society. Traditions that is outdated. Traditionally, if a woman gets knocked up the child’s father have to marry her. Not the case amongst us queers as I am yet to hear of a knocked up gay guy! We get married because we want to not because we have to. Traditionally, when you are married eventually there will be children (planned or unplanned). With homosexuals there are no unplanned pregnancies and it is choice to start a family and this is often times very much considered. Traditionally, one partner in a marriage will be the breadwinner and the other the caregiver and homemaker. In gay marriage this is not always the case as there often times are 2 breadwinners and the duty of care giving and homemaking is a mutually shared responsibility. Many more chauvinistic and archaic traditions are challenged not only by gay marriage but also by feminists and modern society. Anti-gay marriage advocates seems intimidated by the level of control gay people and society in general can now exert over their own marriages, they may fear that a more liberal and empowering example of the traditional family and family values will replace their old world views. They fear change!
Playing the religion card to condemn gay marriage is getting old and uninteresting. They say “read the Bible with an open mind” yet they can’t follow their own advice. They make it sound like Armageddon is imminent by saying “There is a storm gathering, the clouds are dark, the winds are strong and they are scared”. At first I thought they were referring to Global Warming as this is a true threat, but no they fear gay marriage even more. They say gay marriage will take away their rights, make them lose their jobs, government will punish them, change the way they live and they will have no choice. Honestly, I never knew homosexuals were that powerful that the union of two gay people who love each other could cause so much loss to people they don’t even know. I never knew that gay people not being able to marry was the fiber that kept certain societies together. I never knew that gay marriage was a greater social concern far outranking important issues like poverty, unemployment, homelessness, starving children and war.
Gay marriage is legal in South Africa, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom and all of these countries are still standing and all these societies still functioning. Therefore, I find it particularly queer that a country such as the United States of America, one of the most powerful countries in the world, is battling giving equal rights to homosexuals and so dreadfully and unashamedly fearful of gay marriage. The bigots and ignoramuses need to wake up to the realities of the world and accept society is changing and modernizing. They can either adapt and accept it or keep on fighting it and lose.

Till next time.

The National Organization for Marriage - Gathering Storm

Weathering the Storm (Response to NOM Gathering Storm)

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