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28th September, 2001 (# 6) News Clippings Digest.

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  • grahamu_1999@yahoo.com
    28th September, 2001 (# 6) News Clippings Digest. 1. CINCINATTI POST Helen Shaver ( The Education Of Max Bickford ) didn t set out to become a transgender
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2001
      28th September, 2001 (# 6) News Clippings Digest.

      1. CINCINATTI POST Helen Shaver ("The Education Of Max Bickford")
      didn't set out to become a transgender role model
      2. ARIZONA DAILY SUN Letter tells Pat Robertson to give it a rest
      3. SANTA BARBARA PRESS-NEWS Letters: Two Falwells, two Scouts
      (last one is really good)
      4. SOUTHERN VOICE (glbt) Gay candidate Ronald Simoneau seeks
      Birmingham (Alabama) City Council seat
      5. EXIT (glbt) (South Africa) Lesbian judges seek justice
      6. EXIT (glbt) (South Africa) Exit Opinion:
      The Pretoria High Court, Mr Viljoen and the prospect of pride.

      Cincinatti Post, September 28, 2001
      Cincinnati, OH
      (E-Mail: postedits@... )( http://www.cincypost.com )
      http://www.cincypost.com/2001/sep/28/shaver092801.html
      Her character has sex change - and is happy
      By Rick Bird, Post staff reporter
      Helen Shaver says she wasn't setting out to become a
      transgender role
      model.
      The veteran actress of more than 50 movies co-stars in the new
      CBS
      drama ''The Education of Max Bickford'' (8 p.m. Sundays) playing a
      college
      professor who takes a year off and returns as a woman.
      Her character represents one of the rare times on TV when a
      person
      who has undergone a sex change operation is portrayed as happy and
      well-adjusted.
      ''It's a high-functioning, non-stereotypical, transgendered
      woman,''
      Ms. Shaver said about her character. ''It's non-stereotypical of
      what's on
      TV, but is stereotypical of reality.''
      Ms. Shaver plays Professor Erica Bettis, who used to be Steve,
      the
      best friend of college professor Max Bickford (Richard Dreyfuss). In
      the
      premiere she returns after the sex change and is one of the many
      surprises
      turning Bickford's previously cozy academic life upside down.
      ''Steve's a babe,'' remarks an incredulous colleague in
      Sunday's
      premiere when the attractive Erica returns to campus.
      Ms. Shaver's character has been touted in the transgender
      community
      as a refreshing portrayal. Usually TV and movies have depicted such
      people
      as disturbed and troubled.
      Ms. Shaver had previously done little TV acting - although she
      has
      directed several TV shows including episodes of ''Judging Amy.'' She
      said
      the ''Max Bickford'' role excited her because of the chance to work
      with the
      outstanding cast, which includes Academy Award winners Dreyfuss (''The
      Goodbye Girl'') and Marcia Gay Harden (''Pollock'').
      She had already prepared for the role without realizing it.
      One of
      her best friends of 15 years is a woman who had a sex change
      operation and
      went on to a career as a fashion model. As Ms. Shaver says with a
      laugh,
      ''My friend's physically more feminine than I am.''
      She also spent a day with a psychologist who helps transition
      transgender people.
      ''I said first out of the gate, "What do I need to change,
      physically
      to be believable as a transgender woman?' She said, "Nothing,''' Ms.
      Shaver
      said. ''Most of us think transgender women somehow look like men in
      dresses.''
      In an upcoming storyline Erica will get in the middle of an on-
      campus
      debate about sexual identity when a Playboy-style magazine comes to
      campus
      looking for women to pose.
      But Erica's role is a small part of a show that promises to
      explore
      lots of societal and self-discovery issues in the academic setting as
      Bickford struggles with his own identity.
      With this year's new TV dramas again heavy on lawyer/cop
      shows, and
      the new trend of cloak 'n' dagger machinations, the world of academia
      should
      prove to be a unique and fertile ground.
      Indeed, Ms. Shaver thinks such a show should play well in these
      troubled times for an audience in search of a show that deals
      ultimately
      with the human spirit in a grand storytelling tradition.
      ''Storytellers have been part of the fabric of history since
      the
      beginning of time. They make us laugh, they make us cry, but above
      all they
      tell us stories of our own humanity. I think this (show) deals with
      humanity with cleverness and wit.''
      ''The Education of Max Bickford'' is one TV show that films in
      New
      York City, with college scenes shot at a school on Staten Island.
      The show
      was in the middle of filming when the terrorist attack happened.
      ''We have resumed shooting,'' Ms. Shaver said. ''It's the
      saddest
      place in the world right now. But I've never witnessed anything like
      the
      spirit, resiliency and determination to get things working.
      ''It's challenging. But there comes a moment - and each
      person goes
      through it - when you say I choose to live in my life, walk in my
      shoes.''


      Arizona Daily Sun, September 21, 2001
      Box 1849, Flagstaff, AZ, 86002
      (Fax: 520-774-4790 ) (E-Mail: azdsopinion@... )
      ( http://www.azdailysun.com/news )
      Letter: Way off base
      Oh, give it a rest already. No one with one functioning brain
      cell
      remaining took you, Mr. Robertson, seriously before Sept. 11, 2001,
      and no
      one with that one last remaining brain cell is taking you seriously
      now.
      Our Lord to whom you, Mr. Robertson, have so unrelentingly and
      fanatically claimed to speak for would never under any circumstances
      whatever so sanctimoniously sit in judgment on the sick, the
      suffering and
      the outcast. Don't you dare to blame the gays or anybody else for
      what is
      happening in our world right now, and don't pretend to know The Truth
      when
      in fact you just don't have a clue. Read your Bible for a change to
      see
      what is very plainly in there and not for the sole purpose of
      justifying
      your acidic hate.
      And that noisy gong and clashing cymbal business, just to whom
      do you
      think that that's referring to? Without compassion, the hallmark of
      our
      Lord Jesus Christ, without that utter act of love He so passionately
      strove
      to communicate to us, you and those just like you are, as the Bible
      says
      quite clearly, nothing. It is as simple and plain as the cover on
      the Bible
      you thump.
      There are no perfect Christians. None among mortals. The
      greatest
      of our mortal spiritual leaders knew this of themselves, no matter the
      faith. And that includes Islam, by the way. All our greatest of men
      of God
      know this intrinsically. They bow before God in utter humility. They
      know
      from Whom our gifts are meted out.
      Get over yourself. And that is all there is to be said about
      that.
      - D. JAMES, Flagstaff


      Santa Barbara News-Press, September 28, 2001
      Box 1359, Santa Barbara, CA, 93102-1359
      (Fax: 805-966-6258 ) (E-Mail: editorial@... )
      ( http://www.newspress.com )
      Letter: Pulling out support for United Way
      It was announced recently that United Way will no longer
      support the
      Boy Scouts due to discrimination against gays, even though the Scouts'
      action was upheld by the Supreme Court. I support the action of the
      Boy
      Scouts as adhering to its credo. I no longer support United Way.
      I suggest that those who have been connected with Scouting and
      have
      been benefitted by it should look for other venues for their giving
      and not
      support United Way. There are many charities where we may direct our
      benevolence.
      - LeRoy C. Newsom, Santa Ynez

      Letter: Falwell's comments dishonor victims (September 23, 2001)
      I was sickened and saddened to read the comments from Jerry
      Falwell
      and Pat Robertson regarding the terrorist attacks.
      On Sept. 13, on The 700 Club, these zealots of the religious
      right
      stated that "liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, homosexuals
      and
      abortion rights supporters bear partial responsibility for Tuesday's
      terrorist attacks because their actions have turned God's anger
      against
      America."
      The disrespect to the victims, especially to those dead who
      fall into
      one or more of these categories, is staggering. In a nation that
      needs
      healing, these supposed men of the cloth have thrown salt in an open
      wound,
      and should be rejected by Americans of all faiths and beliefs.
      - Jason McCarthy, Santa Barbara

      Letter: Falwell in same league as bin Laden (September 21, 2001)
      As I watched the continuing coverage on CNN of the horror that
      befell
      our country last week, a banner moved across the bottom of the screen.
      It said the Rev. Jerry Falwell blames pagans, abortionists,
      feminists, gays and lesbians for bringing on the attack. What an
      unbelievable and disgraceful statement to make.
      It is this kind of religious fanaticism exhibited by Mr.
      Falwell that
      brought down the Twin Towers. Mr. Falwell has reached an all-time
      low by
      exploiting this national tragedy to forward his own agenda.
      Shame shame on him and anyone who believes as he does.
      Perhaps Rev.
      Falwell should take the first flight to Afghanistan and join Osama bin
      Laden.
      - Barry Opdyke, Carpinteria

      Letter: Boy Scouts can't have bias and protection (September 19,
      2001)
      I have to admit I am getting a little lost in the language of
      discrimination as it is being used these days.
      Michael Warnken, in a Sept. 11 guest commentary, argues that
      his
      Youth Group Anti-Discrimination initiative is desperately needed to
      protect
      the Boy Scouts from discrimination.
      Wasn't it the Boy Scouts who recently fought all the way to
      the U.S.
      Supreme Court to retain the right to discriminate? So how is it that
      it
      suddenly needs protection from discrimination?
      Mr. Warnken, in defense of the Boy Scouts' policies, argues
      that they
      are simply practicing "a central libertarian principle that people
      should do
      whatever they wish . . . associate with whom (ever they) wish without
      fear
      of reprisal, whether legal, social or moral."
      But what if this principle - and I note that he badly
      misrepresents
      what freedom of association actually means - contradicts the
      principle that
      we as a society reject discrimination because we recognize its hurtful
      qualities?
      What is to be said of the many people who conscientiously
      decline to
      associate with groups that practice harmful discrimination?
      Is choosing to disassociate oneself from those who practice
      discrimination just another form of discrimination, as Mr. Warnken
      seems to
      suggest?
      Ironically, groups that are now distancing themselves from the
      Boy
      Scouts - the United Way, school boards, banks and some child-oriented
      organizations - are simply practicing exactly what Mr. Warnken is
      arguing
      for, i.e., the right to freely choose with whom they will associate.
      Surely Mr. Warnken doesn't mean to suggest that the Boy Scouts
      have
      the right to exercise freedom of association but no one else does.
      So what does discrimination mean in this context? Does the Boy
      Scouts practice discrimination when it throws gay Scouts out on their
      ears?
      Unfortunately yes.
      Does the group have a legal right to practice this
      discrimination?
      Yes again.
      Should we, as a moral society, agree to silence our social and
      moral
      indignation at its discriminatory practices?
      Absolutely not, for it is through our communication of this
      indignation, often manifest through the simple disassociation of
      ourselves
      from the group and their practices, that we communicate to them that
      their
      behavior is no longer acceptable.
      I am a former Boy Scout of the year in West Covina.
      - Scott Wexler, Santa Barbara


      Southern Voice (glbt), September 21, 2001

      1095 Zonolite Road, Atlanta, GA 30306
      (E-Mail: editor@... )( http://www.southernvoice.com/ )
      Gay candidate seeks B'ham City Council seat
      by Jennifer Christensen
      BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The hardest choice on the Oct. 9 ballot for
      Birmingham's District 3 City Council seat may be what one candidate
      wears
      for election night - a coy pink Channel [sic] suit or maybe something
      a bit
      more butch by Hugo Boss.
      Ronald Simoneau, also and perhaps better known as drag queen
      Libertee
      Belle, is running for the heavily gay District 3 seat on the
      Birmingham City
      Council.
      Ronald Simoneau - a columnist for the gay monthly Alabama
      Forum, also
      known as Sean Michaels, also known as Libertee Belle - is already a
      legend
      in Birmingham, and has already made history as the first openly gay
      candidate for elected office in the state.
      Next month, Simoneau hopes to make Alabama history again,
      becoming
      the first openly gay man, and the first self-described drag queen, to
      hold
      office in the state.
      But in a crowded field that includes at least five other
      candidates,
      winning won't be easy, Simoneau acknowledged.
      "I thought being a drag queen was a bitch," said Simoneau.
      "Then I
      got involved in politics. You know, I've fought with the very best
      in the
      dressing room, but politics - it's terrible. I don't know why anyone
      would
      want to come after a 124-pound drag queen."
      Simoneau, which is his legal name, said some conservatives
      have made
      him a target because of his sexual orientation. "Imagine that the
      biggest
      fag in the city is running for office," he said one radio talk show
      host on
      WYDE 850 AM said about his candidacy.
      At press time Monday, the day before the end of the official
      qualifying period for the election, other candidates included Valerie
      Abbott, Bob Friedman, Adam Snyder, Angela Turner and David Boackle.
      They
      could not be reached for comment by press time.
      The District 3 seat on the City Council covers the Southside,
      Highland and Crestwood areas, home to Birmingham's largest
      concentration of
      gay residents, according to David White, state coordinator for the
      Gay &
      Lesbian Alliance of Alabama. About 25 percent of voters in the
      district are
      gay, White said.
      GALAA doesn't give endorsements, but White said he has been
      encouraged that several candidates - including Abbott, Turner and
      Friedman -
      have contacted him for information on reaching out to gay voters.
      Five candidates - Simoneau, Abbott, Friedman, Turner and
      Snyder -
      were also scheduled to speak Thursday night at an event sponsored by
      the
      Birmingham Business Network, a group for gay and gay-friendly
      professionals.
      "The good thing is that most of the candidates are actively
      seeking
      the gay vote," White said.
      An uphill battle
      Still, Simoneau said some of his opponents have mentioned his
      sexual
      orientation in their speeches, a move he feels is an attempt to turn
      voters
      against him. But otherwise, Simoneau said people have been
      welcoming, and
      the attention may be just what his uphill campaign needs.
      Simoneau said he has no political connections and he has just
      a tiny
      campaign budget. When a college newspaper called to see if he wanted
      to buy
      a rather inexpensive ad, he said he couldn't afford it.
      "There are people in the race who are better known
      politically, but
      with so many people talking about me, they must really think I'm a
      political
      threat," said Simoneau. "You know, I really do think I will win."
      Others are not as confident, but they certainly do remember
      Simoneau - even if they don't remember him by his given name. When
      Southern
      Voice called the office that handles candidate information, Myra
      McKinney,
      clerk of the probate court office, said she didn't know of any
      Simoneau
      running for office. But asked if she knew a Libertee Belle, McKinney
      got
      excited.
      "Oh, you mean that sweet drag queen," McKinney said.
      "Everyone knows
      him here in Birmingham. He's the talk of the town."
      McKinney said she's watched a lot of candidates in her 30-plus
      years
      at the court, and while she likes Simoneau, she said she's afraid the
      city
      may still be too conservative to elect such a candidate.
      "This is Alabama after all," said McKinney.
      GALAA's White said that Simoneau's chances for election are
      slim.
      "He seems to be running a really low-key campaign," White
      said. "He'
      s been showing up to candidate forums, but my impression of his
      campaign is
      that it is more to get his name out there and run as an openly gay
      candidate."
      Simoneau, however, said he is taking the race seriously, and
      he has
      toned down his appearance on advice from another notable independent
      politician. He only appeared in drag once for an interview, he said,
      and in
      the rest of his speaking engagements and in his official political
      photo, he
      wears a suit and tie.
      "I wrote to Jesse Ventura for advice about my candidacy," said
      Simoneau, about the letter he sent to the Minnesota professional
      wrestler-turned-governor. "He wrote back 'don't ever do anything but
      be
      yourself, but whatever you do, don't campaign in drag."
      More than 'that drag queen'
      Simoneau said he hopes his constant campaigning and his talks
      about a
      wide variety of topics will help people get to know him as more than
      just
      "that drag queen."
      Having lived in Birmingham for the past 16 years, Simoneau
      said he's
      developed a real passion for the city. He moved to Birmingham to
      manage a
      restaurant for Chicago-based Carson Piere Scott, but said he stayed
      on even
      after the restaurant closed because he loved the city and its people.
      In this election, he said people for the most part people
      treat him
      with kindness. Simoneau said people agree with his issues and he is
      rarely
      left out of candidate invitations.
      "I attend everything. And I really mean everything. If
      there's an
      envelope opening, I'll be there," he joked.
      According to White, a key issue for gays in the election is
      choosing
      a candidate who will support adding sexual orientation to Birmingham's
      non-discrimination statement.
      "The main thing we are pushing with the candidates for
      District 3 is
      we want someone who will bring that up, and it's also important that
      they
      actually say the word 'gay,'" White said.
      "If nothing else, people citywide, and at least in this
      district,
      need to realize we are a force to be reckoned with," he said. "For
      once,
      our district council person is going to have to be supportive of our
      issues."
      The retiring incumbent District 3 council member, Jimmy Blake,
      is a
      Libertarian who hasn't supported gay-inclusive non-discrimination or
      hate
      crimes legislation, White said.
      The current crop of candidates hasn't expressed public
      opinions on
      the issues, but White said he plans to ask about them at the
      Birmingham
      Business Network forum.
      Simoneau, meanwhile, said he supports the non-discrimination
      measure - and of course, saying "gay" isn't an issue for him.
      But although gay and lesbian issues are a part of his campaign,
      Simoneau also emphasized some other issues including his support of
      the
      arts, small business, education reform and a better transportation
      system.
      "I take the bus everywhere and you know, one thing this city
      really
      needs is a bus system that really works," said Simoneau. "Our bus
      system
      stops running at 5 [p.m.]. How can working people use that system?"
      Though he faces a tough road to election, Simoneau said he's
      taking
      his mother's advice on his campaign.
      "She said 'you have never backed away from a fight before.
      That's
      just not what you're about,' and you know what? She was right," he
      said.
      "I can't promise anything specific, but I will promise when
      elected,
      I will do my best, and I will do whatever it takes to make Birmingham
      a
      better place."
      - Laura Douglas-Brown contributed.


      E X I T | September, 2001.
      "Southern Africa's Gay & Lesbian Newspaper"
      Gavin Hayward, Editor
      PO Box 28827, Kensington 2101, South Africa
      Telephone: + 27-622-2275
      Fax: + 27-616-6487
      E-mail: exitnews@...
      http://www.exit.co.za

      Lesbian judges seek justice
      The Pretoria High Court heard two applications in August brought by
      serving judges of the High Court against the state.
      In the first case, Judge Anne-Marie de Vos of the Pretoria High Court
      asked for the provisions of the Child Care Act that prevent her and
      her partner from co-adopting children, to be declared
      unconstitutional.
      At present, only one person in a same sex couple can be the legal
      guardian of a child. The Minister of Social Development did not
      oppose the application. Council for Judge de Vos argued that the
      situation creates instability in the family as the children do not
      understand why only one of their parents can make legal decisions for
      them. He further argued that the present position negates the rights
      of the children as they would only have a claim for maintenance
      against one of their parents.
      In the second case, Judge Cathy Satchwell of the Johannesburg High
      Court applied for an order against the President and the Minister of
      Justice, as well as to have certain sections of the Judges
      Remuneration Act declared unconstitutional. At present, the Act
      prevents Judge Satchwells' same sex life partner from accessing
      benefits that are available to the spouses of other judges. The
      application was opposed by the government an the grounds that it will
      "open the floodgates" for similar applications.
      The Equality Project expressed delight that them two matters are
      being heard by our courts. Both applications deal with the principal
      of whether same sex relationships are of equal value and status
      before the law and whether same sex relationships should enjoy the
      same benefits that accrue to married persons.
      In the De Vos application, the Court also has to decide whether same
      sex couples constitute suitable families.
      The Equality Project said they believed that same sex relationships
      should enjoy the same protection, benefits, status and recognition by
      the law as heterosexual marriages. Judge Ackermann on behalf of the
      Constitutional Court already held this to be the case in the matter
      of the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality (now the
      Equality Project) v The Minister of Home Affairs.
      The Equality Project agrees with the Constitutional Court that same
      sex partnerships are equivalent in every way to marriages and that
      they constitute a consortium omnis vitae - one of the legal tests for
      marriage.
      The Equality Project found it regrettable that the government has not
      seen fit to amend the laws governing marriage in South Africa to
      include lesbian and gay people. This creates the necessity for
      challenging laws that discriminate against same sex relationships an
      ad hoe basis. It is further reasonable to assume that the Provisions
      of the Marriage Act discriminates unfairly to the extent that it
      excludes same sex partners from getting married.
      This assumption is further amplified by the provisions of the
      Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act,
      Act 4 of 2000, which prohibits any form of discrimination on the
      grounds of sexual orientation.
      The Equality Project is also finalising an application against the
      Minister of Finance and the Government Employees Pension Fund as the
      government pension fund unfairly and unlawfully refuses to make
      spousal pensions available to the surviving same sex partners of
      deceased state employees.
      This right has already been established in private pensions by way of
      the decision of the Pension Funds Adjudicator in the matter of Martin
      v Beka Provident Fund and the Pension Funds Act of 1999.
      The Equality Project believes that the applications brought by the
      two Judges are well founded in law. The Equality Project supports
      efforts by individuals and groups, at every level in society, that
      seek to achieve equality for all South Africans.
      The Equality Project calls on the government to immediately engage in
      the following:
      l.. Refrain from opposing court applications brought against the
      state that seek to achieve equality for lesbian and gay people.
      Opposing such cases is unjust and constitutes a waste of taxpayers'
      money. The government has never successfully opposed an application
      that sought equably for lesbian and gay people.
      2.. Initiate a process that will lead to the abolition of all
      legislation and policy that discriminates against lesbian and gay
      people
      3.. Instruct the State Law Advisors to ensure that all present and
      future legislation is brought in line with the Equality provisions of
      the Constitution.

      E X I T | September, 2001.
      "Southern Africa's Gay & Lesbian Newspaper"
      Gavin Hayward, Editor
      PO Box 28827, Kensington 2101, South Africa
      Telephone: + 27-622-2275
      Fax: + 27-616-6487
      E-mail: exitnews@...
      http://www.exit.co.za

      Exit Opinion:
      The Pretoria High Court, Mr Viljoen and the prospect of pride.
      By Tim Trengove Jones.

      Lest we forget, the past weeks have reminded us that bigotries are
      alive and well in the heartland. Or, to put it more precisely, that
      unsurprisingly for a country
      in such a marked state of transition our constitutional commitments
      still run ahead of popular sentiment.
      In rapid succession the Pretoria High court ruled that certain
      sections of the Sexual Offences Act and the Child Care Act were
      unconstitutional.
      In the latter case, Judge Anna-Marie de Vos challenged the law
      prohibiting two people of the same sex to co-adopt children. Judge de
      Vos adopted two children six years ago, but her long-time partner had
      no legal status as the children's parent.
      Such disqualification seemed so clearly in breach of the constitution
      that the state did not oppose the application.
      Also in the Pretoria High Court, Judge T T Spoelstra shocked Joe and
      Jane
      citizen by declaring that prostitution was not a common law offence.
      Of particular interest to us was that he drew on the sodomy case to
      arrive at his finding. Noting that the Constitutional Court had held
      that criminalising the act of sodomy between consenting adult males
      was a breach of their rights to exercise their sexual orientation and
      of their rights to privacy and dignity, the judge went on to find
      that sex for the exchange of money could not be a crime: "I do not
      find any reference in the judgement suggesting that if a male
      consents to sodomy for reward, such conduct falls outside the scope
      of the judgement.
      This being so it cannot be contended that sexual relations conducted
      between a man and a woman in private constitutes criminal conduct
      because money changes hands," noted Judge Spoelstra. He therefore
      concluded that section 20(1) (a) of Act 23 Of 1957 was inconsistent
      with the constitution.

      SEXUAL DEVIATES (SIC)

      Quite predictably, these two judgements sparked off a spate of
      hostile reaction.
      Let's grace the views of one Grahame Viljoen of Meyerton with another
      airing. Writing in the letters page of the `Citizen', he fulminated:
      "All of a sudden we use the term "unconstitutional" to the benefit of
      just about every weirdo in the community." This wise social
      commentator then went on to declare that "Starting with the rights of
      gangsters, murderers, sexual deviates (sic), Communists, Satanists
      and port-watchers, we are now looking at the "constitutional" rights
      of prostitutes, the adoption of children by homosexuals and the
      protection of child molesters."
      Unsurprisingly, Mr Viljoen emerges as a vigorous supporter of the
      possession of fire arms, for he concludes: "It's a pity that
      constitutional rights are not considered when law-abiding citizens'
      homes are raided for legally owned firearms."
      Viljoan's rantings were not isolated. Another letter writer wanted to
      know "How the High court [could] be so low?" and yet another solid
      citizen wanted president Mbeki to "put his foot down to make South
      Africa a role model to all other nations by taking a stand against
      immorality."
      These outbursts are axiomatic of the struggle over values that
      discussions around sexual behaviours always invoke. The fact that
      Judge Spoelstra should have referred to the sodomy case is itself
      instructive. In a way, it confirms the conservative lobby's "thin end
      of the wedge" or "slippery slope" theses of social life. Sodomy is,
      of course, "bad." Allow one "bad" thing, and others will follow. The
      very precedent the judge called upon, the very invocation of sodomy
      as a justification for decriminalising soliciting, must confirm the
      worst fears of the cultural and sexual bigots.
      So, it is utterly predictable that one letter writer should scream,
      "Where does this end?"
      One might wish to make light of the fears - and they are fears - of
      one's fellow
      citizens. But it is alarming to see how those fears issue in
      expressions of contempt for human rights and constitutionalism. These
      citizens' views even call in question the nature and definition of
      democracy: "In this day and age, in this "democracy," it appears as
      if anything goes," wailed yet another letter writing disputant.

      BENEATH CONTEMPT

      It is clear from the quotations cited that for many of our fellow
      countrymen, sex workers and queers are beneath contempt. That being
      so, they should be beyond the protection of the law. If it were not
      so predictable and if we, as queers, did not now have the protection
      of the law such bigotries might be laughable. As it is, we need to
      note once more that we can be classified along with "deviates" (sic),
      Satanists and child molesters.
      It is perhaps necessary to remind people who express these views that
      the constitution that protects us protects them equally. We might
      remind them of what Justice Edwin Cameron has said: "The constitution
      combines a series of binding promises we as South Africans have made
      to one another.
      Those promises represent what we aspire to in our dealings with each
      other through society's institutions." And, most especially, we might
      draw the bigots' attention to the judge's sombre summation: "If we
      abandon [these promises], we abandon all hope that a civilised and
      mutually respectful society will emerge in our country." Put much
      more crudely, we need to tell and to reassure the
      Mr Viljoens of our country that their well-being is protected and
      enhanced by legal protections that they view as hostile. And that to
      deprive others of these protections is to potentially jeopardise
      their own status.
      To me, this appears to be something of a double whammy.
      We who are reviled and verbally abused must reassure the detractors.
      In the face of the narrow-minded, we must be assured and self-
      contained enough to make the sobre, carefully-weighed counter
      argument.
      We have to embody - in the face of great provocation - some of the
      qualities required by a "civilised and mutually respectful society."
      Such exemplary behaviour is, perhaps, especially needed in the
      awkward debates generated by our transitional moment.
      But this exemplary response is challenged by what I feel are more
      human - or humanly understandable - reactions: anger and apathy.
      None of us is unfamiliar with either of these. Of the two, the voice
      of "honest indignation" is perhaps the more appealing, though not
      necessarily the most strategic. Apathy itself can be strategic: it
      cloaks one in warm forgetfulness.
      It is also closely akin to a rationalised stoicism: one cannot argue
      the bigots out of their bigotry, one cannot logically contradict
      homophobia since it is itself far from logical.

      PRIDE: POLITICS OR PLAY?

      Which brings one inevitably to the prospect of Pride.
      Politics or play? Or both? Or neither? So much time, so much effort,
      so much
      expense. So little demonstrable outcome.
      Sure, brothers and sisters might find each other for a longer or
      shorter term. That's guageable. Sure, we might give the clubs'
      profits a seasonal push.
      That's guageable, if they'd place their books before us. We might get
      sunstroke or blisters or a pic in the paper or a brief newsflash on
      SATV.
      That's guageable. We'll argue about the route and the "profits" -
      that's started
      already, and is not inconsequential. But it's all so totally
      tedious.
      And what of the sum total of the political impact on Mr Viljoen? What
      of that? In so far as we can measure it, it will be to note another
      letter little short of hate speech.
      Round and round we go.
      Perhaps one thing not noted about disputes over the route is that we
      return to the place from which we started. And such a return is not,
      as in the famous lines from T.S. Eliot, marked by our "know(ing) it
      for the first time."
      Sorry to be such a wet blanket. But I find it intensely sad.
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