When I was younger, my activism was fuelled by anger. Anger at the injustices around me, be it the overt racism of apartheid or the gendered patriarchal violence I grew up in.
I had a righteous indignation that burned and demanded
On the 29th of May 2023 The president of Uganda signed what has been described as the world’s harshest anti-LGBTIQA bill. Ghana is following suit. We have seen draft anti-LGBTIQA bills from Kenya to Ghana, South Sudan
to Tanzania. Most recently, security forces in Ethiopia are raiding hotels and bars arresting suspected homosexuals.
Media has played a major role in how we have been represented and mispresented. There are very few positive images of queer people in many African countries, and this includes South Africa with our enviable constitution. Stereotypes and misrepresentations of gay men continue while the rest of us (GNC, NB, Lesbian) simply do not exist.
So, while many South Africans say that: “We have an exceptional constitution, and are therefore unaffected by the draconian laws sweeping our continent,” nothing could be further from the truth. Discrimination, hate speech and violence are a part of our daily lives and if social media is anything to go by, South Africans not only support these laws, they applaud them, with some politicians scoring points by
calling for a review of the constitution.
Ours is a false sense of security.
In South Africa in the early 90’s media was our most effective weapon. The timing was perfect as our country was going through a transition. People didn’t know about us, so before misinformation and stereotypes could take
root – we went on the offensive.
Pride Marches and media blitzes were the bedrock of our visibility and destigmatising campaigns and with every interview, we were writing ourselves into existence.
It’s unfortunate that the countries passing these laws did not have an opportunity to plant fi rm human rights seeds before the smear campaigns began.
There are currently very few publicly acknowledged or state supported LGBTIQA+ fi lm festivals.
The irony is that even in South Africa there is currently no
national queer fi lm festival and small festivals like Kasi to
Kasi are struggling.
When Junot Diaz said: “… if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” – he could not have been more accurate.
We are fighting against a never ending tide, and the rage bubbles over.
But, as I grow older, I realise that to live in a perpetual state of rage is harmful to me and those around me, without actually affecting those in positions of power.
This realisation has saved me. I am focused on love as the driving force behind my actions. The love of myself and all my people.
This means that I’ve had to fi nd a way to focus my rage, to be deliberate, strategic and considered. Making films about us, showing us in all our beauty and complexities, celebrating our lives and once again, constantly writing us into existence became my sole mission. I also learned that it’s just as revolutionary to live in joy, to share our joy and to celebrate ourselves.
Without Film Festivals such as this one, we continue to be “monsters with no reflections.” So thank you for this inspiration and for continuing to affirm our existence.
And while we enjoy the festival and focus our rage may we also remember our joy.
RAGE by Dr. Bev Palesa Ditsie Activist, fi lmmaker, opening speaker and honorary guest at Cinema Queer, South Africa