Article

Meanings of Homosexuality, Same-Sex Sexuality, and Africanness in Two South African Townships: An Evidence-Based Approach for Rethinking Same-Sex Prejudice

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

The assertion “homosexuality is un-African” is widely viewed as an expression of homophobia. However, without knowledge of what homosexuality and “Africanness” mean in a given context, any understanding of how to shift the prejudices associated with this assertion remains limited. Research conducted in 2010 with police, high school learners (students), and a sample of more than one thousand residents from two urban townships in South Africa contributes to this understanding. This article draws on data from the research to explore the significance of cultural translation when considering what constitutes same-sex prejudice and how it may relate to notions of authenticity or “real Africanness.” While the research provides evidence of same-sex prejudice, there is also evidence of qualified acceptance of same-sex sexuality and of efforts to combat prejudice. Opportunities for change are discussed with reference to the data.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... Zanele used the term 'abosis'bhuti' to refer to homosexuals is derogatory way of referring to people with diverse sexual orientations. According to Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013) certain words that refer to people with diverse sexual orientations in South Africa often have demeaning connotations. In this study too, participants referred to people with same-sex sexual orientations as 'abosis'bhuti' (a combination of male and female) or 'stabane' meaning living with both sexual organs. ...
... These names simply mean that learners with diverse sexual orientations are sisters who are boys or brothers who are sisters. 'Sis'bhututi' highlights that there is an insistent compulsory heterosexuality (Sigamoney and Epprecht 2013). That means educators (or adults who use this term) only see learners through their biological sex and not their sexual identity. ...
... But to be specific more they call them Stabane". Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013) define 'stabane' as a term used to describe "same-sex attracted men and women as "half man-half woman," hermaphrodite or intersex" (p. 100). ...
Article
Full-text available
This article explores the gender and sexual diversity perceptions of teachers in a support unit at a South African school. The School Based Support team (SBST) is a formal structure that consist of selected teachers who are responsible for creating enabling, inclusive and safe learning environments for all students who experience barriers to learning. South African literature shows that school youth who do not conform to heteronormative expressions are subjected to homophobic violence, discrimination and excluded from academic activities. Through purposive sample individual interviews were conducted with ten SBST members, the three themes generated illustrate that teachers in the SBST continue to ‘other’ learners with non-heterosexual expressions and fail to uphold a social cohesive learning environment. The first theme found that the SBST members do not perceive learners with diverse sexual orientations in need of care and support. The second theme shows that the support structure is nonresponsive in the event of discrimination and prejudice faced by learners with diverse sexual orientations. Then the third theme discovered that some educators within the school are perpetrators of homophobia and violence. These results call for a comprehensive in-service teacher training on aspects of sexual diversity.
... Binaries constructed along colonial lines that enforce the "homosexuality is un-African" argument are pervasive and difficult to negotiate, despite sex between same-sex people and non-heterosexist gender roles being present as part of cultural practice within a number of African cultures predating significant colonial influence (Graziano, 2004). The belief is also a major source of violence against sexual minorities, thought to contribute significantly to the violent phenomenon of corrective rape 1 and what Nel and Judge (2008, p. 19) referred to as a "disconcertingly high prevalence of homophobic discrimination" Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013) demonstrated the myriad roots of such a belief, while also asserting that a summary conclusion that it is inherently homophobic is overly simplistic because few, if any, normative or universal conceptions of same-sex practices actually exist in Black African 2 communities. This suggests that further inquiry into perceptions, particularly among this group, would be a vital addition. ...
... Recent studies have illustrated that where homophobic responses do prevail, these continue to be rooted in cultural and religious views that see the practice as unnatural and contrary to the varied customs and traditions of numerous populations (Sigamoney & Epprecht, 2013;Thoreson, 2008). This is coupled with heteronormative attitudes that tend to treat non-heterosexual practices as deviant (Wells & Polders, 2006). ...
... Qualitative and small-scale quantitative survey data recently published by Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013) examined attitudes toward homosexuality in two Black townships in South Africa, finding that conceptions of sexual diversity are often shaped by numerous cultural, religious, and social factors. The belief that same-sex relationships are "un-African" was documented, but so, too, was a level of what the authors referred to as "qualified acceptance" (Sigamoney & Epprecht, 2013, p. 103). ...
Article
Full-text available
South Africa's legal framework on the rights of sexual minorities is one of the most progressive in the world. Despite this, discrimination and violence against gay and lesbian people continues to be a challenge. Using large-scale survey data gathered in the Gauteng City-Region, this study examines public attitudes related to homosexuality. Most respondents to the survey felt that sexual minorities should have equal rights. However, a considerable proportion of respondents also held negative views towards gay and lesbian individuals, with close to two-fifths of respondents believing that homosexuality is against the values of their community and over 12% of participants holding the view that it is acceptable to be violent towards gays and lesbians. Further analysis also consists of an examination of responses cross-tabulated with the variables of race, gender, age and education, revealing that younger, well-educated South Africans tend to be the most tolerant, but also exhibiting large variances in attitudes within groups.
... Qualitative researchers have therefore argued that although it is useful to identify broad trends related to heterosexism, work is needed that facilitates an understanding of the variability and, often, durability of hetero-norms within changing contexts. Indeed, Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013) argue that without a contextual and nuanced understanding, it is difficult to know how to shift prejudices. Accordingly, research is required that allows for an understanding of how people resist or conform to heterosexist norms, including how conformity or resistance becomes situated in the everyday (Korobov, 2004). ...
... Thus, as our analysis illustrates, when participants draw on this discourse, it is not to say, that they are necessarily being tolerant, but rather that they wished to appear so. In this way, speakers are able to justify heterosexism, and as we found even violence, similar to Sigamoney and Epprecht's (2013) findings. ...
Article
Full-text available
Several qualitative researchers using discursive methodologies have noted how opposition to homosexuality has not necessarily diminished, despite the general expression of liberal tolerance in many settings. Instead, heterosexist rhetoric has shifted to accommodate political change. Our research builds on this observation within the South African context, using a discursive psychology approach. We examine rhetorical strategies of "heterosexual recuperation": the ways that heterosexual boundaries and the dominance of heterosexuality are maintained by speakers, at the same time as they attempt to avoid being heard as heterosexist. Drawing on data from a qualitative study conducted with heterosexual-identifying Black South Africans (32) from four provinces, we focus on talk that was resourced by a "discourse of tolerance" and characterised by speakers' concern to avoid the attribution of heterosexism. This talk was analysed using thematic analysis, to which discursive psychology techniques were applied. We identified two ways of speaking that relied on this discourse - (1) "As long as they do it in private", and (2) "Flashing their homosexuality" - and show how they ultimately worked to recuperate heterosexuality and marginalise non-normative sexualities. We discuss the implications of these findings in relation to a critical psychology that works to challenge hetero-patriarchal norms.
... Taking a very different position, other researchers (see eg Pakade, 2013) have been more cautious, warning against a too optimistic reliance on an English word that, in carrying connotations of whiteness and the middle-class, might lack broader currency among many Black South Africans (see also Milani 2013b;Msibi 2013;2014;Sigamoney and Epprecht, 2013 for critiques of categories in the African context). For example, in a recent study about identity labels among non-heterosexual women in Soweto, it was article found that queer was the least used term for self-identification in a list topped by lesbian and isitabane (Pakade, 2013). ...
... Obviously, such a proposal is not completely uncontroversial. Amanda Lock-Swarr (2009) cautions against facile gestures that romanticise isitabane, and thus fail to take into account the heavy discriminatory burden that this word still carries in the public and private lives of many South Africans (see Sigamoney and Epprecht, 2013, for empirical examples of the negative loading of this and other words in African languages in two South African townships). Yet my own ethnographic observations of the meetings in preparation for People's Pride in Hillbrow in 2013 seem to suggest that, at least in Johannesburg, there are moments of political rupture in the discriminatory semantics of the word isitabane. ...
Article
A large body of scholarship across several disciplines has convincingly illustrated how the gender binary – the distinction between males and females as complementary and desirable opposites – is constantly reproduced through everyday, apparently ‘banal’, practices. Such process is not innocuous but is part and parcel of hegemonic ideological formations of gender and sexuality that contribute to positioning some individuals as ‘normal’ and ‘desirable’ whilst recasting others as ‘unwanted’ and ‘deviant’. Against this backdrop, this Article seeks to offer a different perspective, one that focuses less on the reproduction than on the ambivalence of collusion and contestation in relation to the gender binary. In order to do so, it investigates a drawing made by Gabrielle Le Roux in collaboration with Silva, a Namibian trans activist, which featured as part of the exhibition queer & trans Art-iculations at Wits Art Museum in 2014. With the help of an eclectic theoretical apparatus that brings together visual analysis with an African perspective on queer theory, the Article shows how the portrait simultaneously reproduces and contests normative gendered and sexualised scripts. Moreover, it is argued that Le Roux's work and collaboration with transgender and intersex activists can be seen as the beginning of a decolonising project that emerges from Africa, questioning northern, colonial ideologies.
... He has the body of a man but inside he feels like a woman [and] vice versa. This conflation of non-heterosexuality with transgenderism and intersex conditions is a common theme in the growing body of research on non-normative sexual and gender identities in South Africa, such as among isiZulu speaking South Africans where the problematic isiZulu term of isitabane speaks directly to this ambiguity (see Msibi 2012;Reygan & Lynette 2014;Sigamoney & Epprecht 2013). Talking about gay learners BM tells: …as homosexuals though they will tell you that they have a strong feeling that he's a woman: the woman characteristics dominate him. ...
... Discourses across the African continent construct non-normative sexual and gender identities as 'unAfrican' and 'Western' (Francis & Msibi 2011;Reid & Dirsuweit 2002;Reygan & Lynette 2014;Sigamoney & Epprecht 2013). Such perspectives perpetuate heteronormative and gender normative cultures and is a form of LGBT microaggression (see Nadal, Rivera & Corpus 2010). ...
... Contemporary research also demonstrates how, parallel to homophobia and transphobia, public attitudes reflect support for sexual and gender diversity. For example, South African survey research in two urban townships 2 found that over 85% of respondents agreed or partially agreed with the statement 'People who are attracted to members of the same sex and who live in this township are part of the community just like anyone else who lives here' (Sigamoney and Epprecht, 2013). A representative survey of South African public attitudes regarding same-sex sexualities found that over half of participants (55%) said that they would 'accept' a gay family member (The Other Foundation, 2016). ...
... These texts predominantly draw on research located in urban township settings (e.g. Donham, 2000;Salo et al., 2010;Sigamoney and Epprecht, 2013;Tucker, 2009), with a smaller number of studies focussed on rural and peri-urban settings (e.g. Morison and Lynch, 2016;Netshandama et al., 2017;Reid, 2006Reid, , 2013. ...
Article
Full-text available
The linguistic coding of sexual and gender diversity remains highly contested in African contexts. While English language terminologies reflecting rights-based talk proliferate, such terms fail to fully reflect the lived realities of African queerness. This paper engages existing South African research on indigenous terminologies to describe sexual and gender diversity, focusing on representations of male same-sex sexualities. Our findings show that local terminologies serve not only to ‘other’ sexual and gender diversity, but also hold the potential to render those existing outside of normative sex/gender binaries as socially intelligible. Two core themes emerged: (i) the persistence of heterogendered subjectivities, where sexual dissidence is mapped onto a normative male/female binary; and (ii) a procreative imperative focused on communitarian norms that privilege heterosexual childbearing. The findings highlight the limitations of global terminologies of sexual and gender diversity by engaging the ways in which local African terminologies provide social recognition for same-sex sexualities in generally heteronormative community spaces. We discuss the implications of this gendered encoding of sexual dissidence in terms of advocacy strategies for the greater social inclusion of sexual and gender minorities.
... In this paper, we are careful not to use Western traditional labels of identification to label or name our participants. Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013) point to the need to evaluate the role of language in relation to how same-sex desire is understood and treated in African contexts. This is mainly due to the fact that histories of colonisation and imperialism significantly reconfigured the ways in which sexuality was understood and experienced in African contexts (see Tamale, 2011) leading to the false assumption that same-sex desire and practices are unAfrican. ...
... This is mainly due to the fact that histories of colonisation and imperialism significantly reconfigured the ways in which sexuality was understood and experienced in African contexts (see Tamale, 2011) leading to the false assumption that same-sex desire and practices are unAfrican. Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013) note, therefore, that Western language on same-sex sexualities may not necessarily carry the same meaning when applied in contexts like South Africa. Using the word 'homosexual' as an example, they show that less than 5% of their more than 1000 participants, which included young people, police and the general public, could relate this word to individuals who claim same-sex identifications. ...
Article
Full-text available
International higher education research focused on students who claim same-sex identifications in university residential spaces has tended to prioritise the ‘gay as victim’ discourse, often leading to the pathologising of same-sex identification. While there is emerging research seeking to challenge this dimension of scholarship by offering a more nuanced and ‘queer’ approach to doing research, such research has tended to be thin, often exclusively focusing on Western contexts. This paper responds to this limitation by showcasing the experiences of Black South African same-sex-identifying students residing in student accommodation spaces in one South African university. Ten participants (five men and five women) were selected to participate in the study through snowball sampling. Each participant was interviewed twice using grounded conversations – an interview technique designed to address unequal power relations during the interviewing process. Findings highlight that the experiences of same-sex-identifying students at the university where this study took place are complex, involving the accommodation of homophobia and heteronormativity as well as resist-stancing. This is mainly due to the fact that the university residential space was heterosexualised. The paper, therefore, argues for a ‘queering’ of higher education scholarship given the deeply heterosexualised and misogynistic cultures that exist in such spaces.
... Constructions of gender that is what it means to be a 'real' man or woman, intersect with race and sexuality to reproduce and naturalize heterosexuality. In seeking to uphold and maintain the power of heteronormativity and heterosexism, teachers, parents and community members are found to cite Biblical teachings and notions of African tradition in conjunction with one another, constructing the 'Christian African' as a cisgender, heteronormative, heterosexual African (Msibi, 2012;Sigamoney & Epprecht, 2013). These are important and powerful sources of authority that enable and legitimate the silencing of sexuality diversity and homophobic violence. ...
... In exploring resistance against heterosexism and homophobia, the literature highlights South Africa's Constitution as an important source of authority (Bhana, 2014b;DePalma & Francis, 2014;Francis, 2016;Sigamoney & Epprecht, 2013). Teachers cite Constitutional values of equality, democracy and human rights as justification for the inclusion of queer leaners in schools and sexuality diversity in the curriculum. ...
Article
There is a critical need for sex, sexuality and relationships education to be LGBTQI inclusive. Numerous studies, internationally and in South Africa, highlight this need but what constitutes an inclusive curriculum has not been sufficiently addressed. This paper seeks to advance this conversation by imagining a curriculum beyond compulsory heterosexuality and considers what knowledges and practices are necessary for the South African context. To do this, the authors consider the corpus of research about how sexualities are characterized in schooling generally and in the teaching of sexuality education specifically. Using the theoretical tools offered by Freire and hooks on critical consciousness, three arguments are made. First, the authors argue for the theoretical and empirical contributions of the sociology of gender and sexualities which are social constructions informed by history, social relations and power. Second, there is a need for a curriculum to recognize the intersectionality of learners and how identity knowledges shape the way that youth sexualities are understood and experienced. Finally, the teaching and learning of an LGBTQI inclusive curriculum will steer away from moralistic and didactic instruction in favor of more participatory pedagogies that acknowledge young people as agents and legitimate sexual beings.
... South Africa is a particular "hot spot" for these kinds of homophobic hate crimes against LGBTI people (Brown, 2012). Sigamoney & Epprecht (2013) share interview and survey data on the subject from more than 1000 respondents from two urban townships in South Africa (Daveyton and KwaThema). Bhana (2014) suggests that in South Africa's history of racial and gender inequalities has combined with cultural, economic, and social practices to produce "anxious masculinities" that perpetuate homophobic violence (78). ...
... However, Milani (2014) also recognizes and submits that language is a very important component of discussions around LGBTI identity in Africa, and words like "queer" may carry connotations of whiteness or middle-class that would not resonate in many parts of Africa. Milani (2014) also points to Msibi (2013; and Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013) who offer other critiques of language and identity categories. ...
... Qualitative researchers have therefore argued that although it is useful to identify broad trends related to heterosexism, work is needed that facilitates an understanding of the variability and, often, durability of hetero-norms within changing contexts. Indeed, Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013) argue that without a contextual and nuanced understanding, it is difficult to know how to shift prejudices. Accordingly, research is required that allows for an understanding of how people resist or conform to heterosexist norms, including how conformity or resistance becomes situated in the everyday (Korobov, 2004). ...
... Thus, as our analysis illustrates, when participants draw on this discourse, it is not to say, that they are necessarily being tolerant, but rather that they wished to appear so. In this way, speakers are able to justify heterosexism, and as we found even violence, similar to Sigamoney and Epprecht's (2013) findings. ...
Article
Full-text available
Several qualitative researchers using discursive methodologies have noted how opposition to homosexuality has not necessarily diminished, despite the general expression of liberal tolerance in many settings. Instead, heterosexist rhetoric has shifted to accommodate political change. Our research builds on this observation within the South African context, using a discursive psychology approach. We examine rhetorical strategies of " heterosexual recuperation " : the ways that heterosexual boundaries and the dominance of heterosexuality are maintained by speakers, at the same time as they attempt to avoid being heard as heterosexist. Drawing on data from a qualitative study conducted with heterosexual-identifying Black South Africans (32) from four provinces, we focus on talk that was resourced by a " discourse of tolerance " and characterised by speakers' concern to avoid the attribution of heterosexism. This talk was analysed using thematic analysis, to which discursive psychology techniques were applied. We identified two ways of speaking that relied on this discourse – (1) " As long as they do it in private " , and (2) " Flashing their homosexuality " – and show how they ultimately worked to recuperate heterosexuality and marginalise non-normative sexualities. We discuss the implications of these findings in relation to a critical psychology that works to challenge hetero-patriarchal norms.
... He has the body of a man but inside he feels like a woman [and] vice versa. This conflation of non-heterosexuality with transgenderism and intersex conditions is a common theme in the growing body of research on non-normative sexual and gender identities in South Africa, such as among isiZulu speaking South Africans where the problematic isiZulu term of isitabane speaks directly to this ambiguity (see Msibi 2012;Reygan & Lynette 2014;Sigamoney & Epprecht 2013). Talking about gay learners BM tells: …as homosexuals though they will tell you that they have a strong feeling that he's a woman: the woman characteristics dominate him. ...
... Discourses across the African continent construct non-normative sexual and gender identities as 'unAfrican' and 'Western' (Francis & Msibi 2011;Reid & Dirsuweit 2002;Reygan & Lynette 2014;Sigamoney & Epprecht 2013). Such perspectives perpetuate heteronormative and gender normative cultures and is a form of LGBT microaggression (see Nadal, Rivera & Corpus 2010). ...
Article
Full-text available
We explored types and qualities of microaggressions or subtle forms of discrimination towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people among teachers in South Africa. For data collection, we used in-depth interviews. Twenty-five Life Orientation teachers, nine men and 16 women, from both rural and urban schools throughout the Free State Province participated. Our findings suggest heterosexism as well as subtle and sometimes harder to pin down forms of bias – microaggressions ‒ are experienced in these contexts. Given the educational policy shifts on LGBT rights in South Africa, we argue that microaggressions need to be clearly located in the larger macro context of systemic heterosexism which pervades schools and the teaching of sexuality education in South Africa. We conclude with implications for teaching and support interventions to make schools more LGBT inclusive.
... Western sexual categories are increasingly being questioned in African contexts given the failure of these categories to capture the varied ways in which same-sex engagement is understood and performed in these contexts. Recently, for instance, Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013) have shown, through a comprehensive study of more than 1000 South African township youths, how concepts like 'homosexuality' and other Western categories of identification fail to resonate with the local people as many do not know the terms and concepts or do not understand their meanings. In fact, the authors found that the sheer majority of township youths and police officers in their study did not use the word "homosexual", with less than 5% of their participants using it to refer to men and women who have same-sex attractions. ...
Article
The repertoire of South African females in the Nguni language cluster is remarkably diverse. Considering not only so-called ‘standard’ languages, but also different varieties, sociolects, ethnolects and registers, the linguistic diversity of South Africans is even more noteworthy. In this focus we explore a language variety termed isiTsotsi, which if employed by females, is often associated with lesbianism in KwaZulu-Natal. The masculinity historically and traditionally linked to isiTsotsi is the reason why there exists the common perception among men that females who do employ isiTsotsi-varieties must be lesbians. While many urban lesbians may indeed make use of the variety, this paper shows that the female use of isiTsotsi does not represent an exclusively homosexual register, but rather a context-dependent sociolect that African streetwise women employ to empower themselves. Hence, female isiTotsi-speakers are not necessarily representative of lesbian society in South Africa. Rather, they represent a new generation of emancipated African females who are capable of communicating their freedom and equality in relation to men.
... When teaching and learning about sexuality and relationship education takes place in schools, nonheterosexuality is often excluded (Bhana, 2012b;DePalma & Francis, 2014;Francis, 2012Francis, , 2017, portrayed in a negative light (Richardson, 2008b), or laden with oppressive stereotypes and misinformation (Francis, 2012(Francis, , 2017Richardson, 2008b). Research also talks about teachers who do not want to consider the lives of LGBT youth because of deep-rooted beliefs about homosexuality being un-African (Francis & Msibi, 2011;Richardson, 2009;Sigamoney & Epprecht, 2013), sinful (Bhana, 2012a(Bhana, , 2012bDePalma & Francis, 2014;Francis, 2013), and unnatural (Francis, 2017;Francis & Reygan, 2016;Kowen & Davis, 2006;Reygan & Francis, 2015). Across the empirical research on how teachers addressed homophobia or taught about sexual orientation, teachers often viewed nonheterosexuality as deviant, sinful, or immoral and are reticent to deal with this issue in their classroom due to cultural and religious opinions (Bhana, 2012b;Deacon et al., 1999). ...
Article
Full-text available
Post-apartheid, there has been an increase in research on issues of gender and sexuality diversity in South African schools. To build upon and advance gender and sexuality diversity studies, I conducted a review of the literature that addresses how lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth experience schooling and how schools, if at all, respond to gender and sexuality diversity. Of the 27 publications reviewed, the findings show how schools proliferate compulsory heterosexuality and heteronormativity. The proliferation makes explicit gender and sexuality binaries in the curriculum, pedagogy, and school culture that assume that learners identify as heterosexual and embody heteronormative gender expression and expectations. In a nutshell, the corpus of research describes the challenges LGBT youth face in schools and points to the need for change. I conclude by offering ideas about schooling, teacher education, and future research on gender and sexuality diversity in South African education.
... … the post-apartheid landscape brought the promise of freedom under broad constitutional reforms enshrined in a bill of rights … The current context has therefore steadily and progressively shifted from a model which conceives homosexuality as a behaviour to one in which identities can be produced. (Reddy 2010:18) The challenge of conceptualising knowledge related to homosexuality is deeply rooted in the complexity of the multiculturalism characteristic of modern South Africa (Sigamoney & Epprecht 2013). This, in turn, causes difficulties for the ideals of identities to emerge without judgement. ...
Article
Full-text available
There are various challenges in the teaching of sexuality within a South African multicultural context, as there is no uniform knowledge across learner backgrounds. As such, teachings often revert to the teacher’s beliefs, in order to create meaning within the uncertainty, at the expense of the individual learners’ personal identity formation. This paper explores the teachers’ internal bias and its subsequent influence on the teaching of alternative sexualities in Life Orientation classes. Through purposive sampling, four teachers in the Mangaung area of the Free State province participated in semi-structured interviews and electroencephalogram (EEG) measurements. Data were analysed by means of thematic analysis and descriptive statistics collected through EEG readings in order to explore how teachers construct knowledge about alternative sexualities while mediating internal conflict, specifically through measuring frustration responses to stimuli. Findings suggest that the challenge of personal background influences teaching practice as well as limitations at curriculum level, leading to personal interpretations of content. Furthermore, sensitisation to content significantly affects levels of frustration, while the active versus reactive nature of teaching sexuality becomes apparent in how teachers ultimately accommodate personal bias. Recommendations include the need for sensitisation, during teacher induction, to sensitive topics such as sexuality, and to provide less biased messages during teaching.
... In his rendition, access to care hinges on the maintenance of the norm of heterosexual complementarity. This echoes South African research findings showing that compliance with cultural gender norms promotes 'quiet' or 'qualified' acceptance of non-normative sexual practices (Epprecht, 2012;Sigamoney & Epprecht, 2013). Reid's (2013) study -conducted in the same district -has clear resonances. ...
Article
Full-text available
Worldwide, sexual and gender minorities struggle to access sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. In South Africa, sexual prejudice is entrenched and pervasive in health systems and SRH services do not cater for a diverse range of people. Though health reform is underway, little attention has been given to how sexuality is being addressed in this process, particularly in the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme currently being piloted. We analyse interview data generated in an NHI pilot district, using discursive methodology, informed by a sexual and reproductive justice standpoint. We show how sexual and gender minorities are discursively in/visibilised in health settings and discuss these findings in relation to the social justice and solidarity aims of health systems reform.
... When teaching and learning about sexuality and relationship education takes place in schools, nonheterosexuality is often excluded (Bhana, 2012b;DePalma & Francis, 2014;Francis, 2012Francis, , 2017, portrayed in a negative light (Richardson, 2008b), or laden with oppressive stereotypes and misinformation (Francis, 2012(Francis, , 2017Richardson, 2008b). Research also talks about teachers who do not want to consider the lives of LGBT youth because of deep-rooted beliefs about homosexuality being un-African (Francis & Msibi, 2011;Richardson, 2009;Sigamoney & Epprecht, 2013), sinful (Bhana, 2012a(Bhana, , 2012bDePalma & Francis, 2014;Francis, 2013), and unnatural (Francis, 2017;Francis & Reygan, 2016;Kowen & Davis, 2006;Reygan & Francis, 2015). Across the empirical research on how teachers addressed homophobia or taught about sexual orientation, teachers often viewed nonheterosexuality as deviant, sinful, or immoral and are reticent to deal with this issue in their classroom due to cultural and religious opinions (Bhana, 2012b;Deacon et al., 1999). ...
Chapter
There are clear parallels between Kumashiro’s writing and the work of South African scholars on how anti-oppressive education has been conceptualized. In this chapter, I bring together Kumashiro’s anti-oppressive framework and the South African scholarship on gender and sexuality diversity and schooling, to trouble how the teaching and learning of non-heterosexualities happen. Kumashiro makes a whole lot of sense, and so I use his work while remaining critical, and, similarly, use the various South African writings that add a whole lot of understanding and context.
... Western sexual categories are increasingly being questioned in African contexts given the failure of these categories to capture the varied ways in which same-sex engagement is understood and performed in these contexts. Recently, for instance, Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013) have shown, through a comprehensive study of more than 1000 South African township youths, how concepts like 'homosexuality' and other Western categories of identification fail to resonate with the local people as many do not know the terms and concepts or do not understand their meanings. In fact, the authors found that the sheer majority of township youths and police officers in their study did not use the word "homosexual", with less than 5% of their participants using it to refer to men and women who have same-sex attractions. ...
Article
Full-text available
Drawing on Youdell’s (2000, 2005, 2006) work on identity formation, we examine in this article multiple performances of gender identities in relation to a particular language use among African men who engage in same-sex relations. Based on semi-ethnographic research and in-depth interviews with African men who are isiNgqumo speakers in the Durban metropolitan area in KwaZulu-Natal, this article portrays the intersectional nature of two genderlects. The isiNgqumo lexicon is characterised largely by what Zulu speakers refer to as “deep” lexicon, and a closer examination reveals that a substantial number of lexical items are drawn from the isiHlonipho variety of Zulu, also termed “isiHlonipho Sabafazi” (‘women’s language of respect’). Hlonipha (lit. ‘respect’) social actions and language use are representative of showing submissiveness towards males and other people who are considered superiors. On the basis of the experiences of men who engage in same-sex relations and who self-identify as skesana, we argue that an isiNgqumo variety that draws from the isiHlonipho lexicon represents a linguistic variety that is linked to a heteronormative and patriarchal cultural system which renders femininity an inferior subject position. Within this gendered order, certain linguistic expressions of isiNgqumo can create tension-riddled identity categories and allow for complex positioning for skesanas, many of whom draw on heteronormative and heteropoleric categories in the construction of their sexual and gender identities.
... The assumption of heterosexuality as a norm is deeply rooted in cultural and religious beliefs and those who are not heterosexual often experience gross levels of alienation (Mkhize et al. 2010;Sigamoney and Epprecht 2013). Sanger and Clowes (2006) argue that heterosexuality in South Africa remains strongly entrenched in day-to-day praxis. ...
... In Southern Africa, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act No. 108 of 1996) (RSA 1996a) was the first in Africa to explicitly recognise the rights of gay and lesbian individuals (Bennett and Reddy 2015;Reddy 2001;Richardson 2004;Sigamoney and Epprecht 2013); however, many learners who self-identify as LGBTIor are assumed to be LGBTI-continue to be denied rights and citizenship through forms of homophobia including hate speech, exclusion, invisibility, marginalisation and violence (Bhana 2012;Butler, Alpaslan, Allen and Astbury 2003;DePalma and Francis 2014a;Francis 2017a;2017b;2017c;Francis and Reygan 2016;Kowen and Davis 2006;McArthur 2015;Msibi 2012;Reygan and Francis 2015). These negative experiences occur despite the protections offered by the South African Constitution and the South African Schools Act (No. 84 of 1996) (RSA 1996c), both of which are clear in addressing all forms of discrimination in the promotion of a democratic, equal and fair South Africa (Bhana 2012;Butler et al. 2003;Francis 2013;Francis and Reygan 2016;Kowen and Davis 2006;McArthur 2015;Msibi 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
The importance of quality education provision for all is a globally acknowledged principle for the creation of sustainable learning environments at primary and secondary levels. This article reports on a study that aimed to increase understanding of the context of how gender and sexuality diversity is responded to in schools in Southern Africa. In this regard, the researchers drew on a recent five country study focusing on what the literature says about gender and sexuality diversity and schooling in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. Drawing on a review of reports and publications by relevant ministries, policy documents, published research, relevant statistical data, as well as the grey literature from civil society organisations, the findings indicated significant barriers to access for learners who embody non-normative gender or sexualities. The policies and schooling cultures in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland foreground discourses that marginalise, silence and invisibilise gender and sexual minorities. The researchers argue that if educational institutions in the region are to include all learners, there must be real engagement with the ongoing realities of heterosexist exclusion and marginalisation. The findings pointed to the need for teacher education to step up efforts to prepare teachers in the region to comfortably and professionally engage with and teach about issues of gender and sexuality diversity in the classroom.
... This system of heteronormativity is upheld through promoting heterosexuality as the only "normal," "healthy," and "natural" pattern of human behavior (Msibi 2009;Henderson 2015). The assumption of heterosexuality as a norm is deeply rooted in cultural and religious beliefs, and those who are not heterosexual often experience gross levels of alienation (Sigamoney and Epprecht 2013). According to research, sexual violence against individuals, who are identified as LGBT(QI), is perceived as a violent attempt to oppress those who are challenging social norms around gender and sexuality (Gentlewarrior and Fountain 2009). ...
... The conflation of sex, gender and sexuality is epitomised in the linguistic coding of gender and sexual diversity through the catch-all phrase "moffie." Research by Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013), for example, has shown that the terms/words used to refer to gender or sexuality plurality varywhile the words used to define gender and sexual diversity carry negative connotations, they are rooted in a cis and heteronormative discourse. Within these constructions of difference gender and sexuality diversity is considered taboo, and policed. ...
Article
Full-text available
This article offers an analysis of the identity work of a black transgender woman through life history research. Identity work pertains to the ongoing effort of authoring oneself and positions the individual as the agent; not a passive recipient of identity scripts. The findings draw from three life history interviews. Using thematic analysis, the following themes emerge: institutionalisation of gender norms; gender and sexuality unintelligibility; transitioning and passing; and lastly, gender expression and public spaces. The discussion follows from a poststructuralist conception of identity, which frames identity as fluid and as being continually established. The study contends that identity work is a complex and fragmented process, which is shaped by other social identities. To that end, the study also acknowledges the role of collective agency in shaping gender identity.
... 22 Yet the expansion of queer legal and social recognition has impacted cultural representations and practices, through a rising articulation of African queerness, as a critical and necessary counterweight to forms of gayness circumscribed by Western modernity's civilising missions (see Ekine, 2013;Muholi, 2013). This includes rich histories of black queer subcultures in townships, and the particularistic ways in which homosexuality is engaged and accommodated in these locales (Reid, 2013;Sigamoney and Epprecht, 2013). In the field of cultural contest, queer agency also challenges normative conceptions of what it means to be African (Hoad, 2016;Livermon, 2012). ...
Article
With a focus on contemporary South Africa, and through the lens of queer identity and politics, the article critiques the limitations and possibilities for queerness and its futures in post-apartheid South Africa. From the advent of constitutional democracy and its ushering in of human rights, the article analyses developments in the politics of sexuality in the context of enduring systems of violence, rooted in colonial and apartheid histories. Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people – at the intersection with other forms of discrimination – has emerged as a focal point for political resistances in the post-apartheid period. These resistances are interrogated, including the paradoxes of rights struggles that they expose, and the contradictions between formal equality gains and present queer realities that they call attention to. With an emphasis on enduring inequalities within post-apartheid society, and on the racialisation of violence against queerness, the article explores various political formations of and for queer freedom. In navigating these dynamics of inequality and difference, the article urges a radical politics – both for relating as equals, and against the violent ends of othering.
... The lack of affirmative terms for queer expressions and experiences in vernacular languages reinforces the notion that they are 'going against the ancestors'. 6 This is particularly significant given the limitations of the translatability of 'homosexuality' and 'homophobia' to identify and describe the prejudices that queers face (Sigamoney & Epprecht 2013). The imposition of western terminologies in places where sexual and gender diversity has been violently denied exposes the constraints of the 'LGBTI' lexicon to represent sexual and gendered life in postcolonial contexts in affirming and non-stigmatising ways. ...
Article
Full-text available
At the intersection of religion and sexuality, this article explores how lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people navigate dynamics of inclusion and exclusion within faith-based settings. Situated in a postcolonial setting, and with a specific focus on South Africa, the article delineates the oppressive dynamics at work at this intersection, along with how these are resisted through contemporary forms of activism. Grounded in a feminist analysis of relevant literature and of the field of activism in question, and supplemented by interviews with key informants, the research offers a conceptual framework to advance transformative inclusion for LGBTIQ people within, and against, the dominant institutions, discourses and practices of faith. Contribution: This article contributes to the field of scholarship that concerns activism on sexual and gender rights in faith-based settings. It straddles theory and practice, offering an epistemological grounding for political action that advances the rights of LGBTIQ people. In bringing practitioner insights into academic discourse, the article adds to the burgeoning academic enquiry in this area, and offers a conceptual approach for supporting existing and new initiatives against marginalisation, exclusion and violence at the hands of faith.
... In some areas, local people may react to gay men and women by attacking them to "correct" their behavior or punishing them to set right their perceived errors of behavior. In their study of meanings of homosexuality and same-sex sexualities, Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013) maintain that gay people in urban townships are often stigmatized, viewed negatively, and regarded as displaying problematic characteristics. Thus, openly identifying oneself as lesbian or gay sometimes invites negative consequences if the social environment is repressive and homophobic, with few spaces to display alternative sexualities. ...
Chapter
The dominant belief in Africa is that same-sex intimacy is a child of modern civilization and Western culture. Hence, we see a high level of homophobia and continuous policing of same-sex relationships in most African countries, including those that have decriminalized them. Over time, different scholarly discourses have emerged about homosexuality in Africa. Although some writers believe that same-sex intimacy is fundamentally un-African, others argue that same-sex intimacy is inherent in African culture. Arguably, the introduction of Western religion, such as Christianity, which forms part of the colonization agenda, favors the monogamous, heterosexual relationship (the basis of the “ideal family unit”) as the acceptable natural union while any relationship outside it is regarded as unnatural. Given deteriorating socioeconomic and political situations in Africa, political leaders often find it expedient to use religious-based homophobic narratives to distract their impoverished citizens and muster popular support. Put together, this has led to the criminalization of same-sex unions in most African countries. Modern discourses in Africa on gender equality and sexual freedoms reveal more liberal attitudes, but the same cannot be said about how same-sex desire is viewed. Toleration of same-sex intimacy is seen as a threat to the dominant African definition of marriage, family, and patriarchal gender and power relations. Despite the prevalence of homophobia, the establishment of gay networks and movements that championed the liberation struggles of sexual minorities in South Africa from the apartheid to post-apartheid era have sharpened the sense of belonging of LGBTIA groups. While some countries (e.g., South Africa, Lesotho, Cape Verde, Rwanda, Mali, and Mozambique) have abandoned sodomy laws that criminalized same-sex relationships (often after much pressure was exerted), others (e.g., Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Tunisia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Mauritania) have upheld the laws with stiff punishment—prison terms up to 14–30 years or death sentences for the crime of being homosexual. The first half of 2019 raised some hopes about LGBTIA rights in Africa when Angola (January 2019) and Botswana (June 2019) decriminalized homosexuality. However, Kenya, which had previously shown a “glimmer of hope” in decriminalizing same-sex relationships, upheld laws that criminalize homosexuality in May 2019. Currently, more than 30 of the 54 recognized African countries still have laws (with harsh punishments or death) that outlaw consensual same-sex relationships. Both theoretical and empirical insights into the current state of Africa’s LGBTIA rights and scholarship are discussed.
... In some areas, local people may react to gay men and women by attacking them to "correct" their behavior or punishing them to set right their perceived errors of behavior. In their study of meanings of homosexuality and same-sex sexualities, Sigamoney and Epprecht (2013) maintain that gay people in urban townships are often stigmatized, viewed negatively, and regarded as displaying problematic characteristics. Thus, openly identifying oneself as lesbian or gay sometimes invites negative consequences if the social environment is repressive and homophobic, with few spaces to display alternative sexualities. ...
... One of the key rights in the SADC context is the right to education and this is particularly the case for free and compulsory primary education as provided for in Article 28(1)(a) of the CRC (UNCRC, 1989) and 11(3)(a) of the African Children's Charter (OAU, 1990). For example, the Constitution of South Africa (Act No. 108 of 1996) (RSA, 1996a) was the first in the region and indeed on the continent to explicitly recognize the rights of sexual and gender minorities (Bennett & Reddy, 2015;Reddy, 2001;Richardson, 2004;Sigamoney & Epprecht, 2013). In contrast, LGBTI young people in schools are often denied their rights to education and to full citizenship because of homophobia and transphobic expressed in varied ways through exclusion, marginalization, violence, invisibility, and hate speech DePalma and Francis, 2014a;Francis, 2017aFrancis, , 2017bFrancis, , 2017cFrancis & Reygan, 2016;Reygan & Francis, 2015). ...
Book
This book brings together leading scholars researching the field of gender, sexuality, schooling, queer activism, and social movements within different cultural contexts. With contributions from more than fifteen countries, the chapters bring fresh insights for students and scholars of gender and sexuality studies, education, and social movements in the Global North and South. The book draws together both theoretical and empirical contributions offering rich and multidisciplinary essays from scholars and activists in the field focusing on outreach work of QSM (Queer Social Movements) in schools, queer activism in educational settings, and the role of QSMs in supporting and informing queer youth.
... These have brought forth a biased geopolitics of queer academic knowledge, which consistently privileges scholarship developed in Europe and North America, while 'African material and African intellectuals tend to be overlooked, seemingly token, or relegated to the margins in ostensibly global queer literature' (Epprecht, 2008: 14). The lack of purchase of queer as an emic category in South Africa has also been demonstrated in a study of identity labels among non-heterosexual women in Soweto (Pakade, 2013; see also Sigamoney and Epprecht, 2013 for similar results). There, queer was the least used identity category vis-a-vis other labels such as lesbian and isitabane (see also Swarr, 2012 for an incisive analysis of isitabane). ...
Article
Drawing upon queer theory and Said’s notion of the counterpoint, the article analyses the launch episode of a reality television series produced by the South African NGO loveLife, which focused on a young, self-identified lesbian woman in Soweto. We offer a counter example to discourses of the powerless victimhood of Black, gender and sexually non-normative individuals in South African townships. We unveil contrapuntally the pushes and pulls between the voice of the authoritative facilitator, aligned with loveLife’s HIV-prevention and youth leadership development methodology, and that of the young woman herself, who volunteered for the intervention, focusing on their disagreement on how best to ‘accommodate’ the prevailing social norms of contemporary South Africa. We also discuss the counterpoint between us – a discourse analyst observing the effects of particular articulations on South African society related to loveLife’s social aims, and the producer of the episode, charged with the protection of the NGO’s brand identity. We conclude that norms governing gender and sexuality in a rapidly evolving society such as South Africa’s are best understood as presenting analysis with dilemmas and contradictions, and that contrapuntal reading is a valuable tool for bringing these tensions under scrutiny without succumbing to the urge to resolve them.
... Although the acronym LGBT is used widely, it does not convey the many ways in which South Africans understand sexual orientation, gender identity (an individual's internal perception and naming of one's gender irrespective of one's sex), and gender expression (visible expression of one's gender identity, or how an individual presents their gender externally, such as through mannerisms, clothing, or behaviors). We acknowledge different terms in indigenous languages to describe same-sex and same-gender loving persons in South Africa,86 but the report retains the conventional use of LGBT.A social determinants of health framework 87 informed this study in that LGB (and T) stigma88,89 and structural racism 90 are conceptualized as macro-level forces that inform governmental and institutional policies, as well as interpersonal dynamics, to shape living and working conditions for LGBT people. As such, this study reviews the legal landscape for LGBT people in South Africa,public opinion research, and the social science literature, and conducts original empirical analyses of large, representative datasets to characterize and begin to estimate the costs of LGBT stigma and discrimination on the national economy. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)1 South Africans experience barriers to economic and social inclusion related to structural inequality and social stigma along multiple axes (e.g., race, sexuality, gender, sex). While Apartheid, the system of institutionalized racial segregation that officially commenced in 1948,1 created and sustained this inequality for decades, South Africa’s rebirth as a nation—reflected in the passage of a new constitution in 1996 and recognition of 11 national languages2 —positions the country to continue to advance the rights and well-being of its full, diverse population. An estimated 634,000 South African adults are willing to self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or “other” than heterosexual or straight and 1.1% of cohabitating couples report that they are living in same-sex marriages/partnerships to survey collectors. Despite a progressive legal landscape for sexual minorities (LGB), and courts that have upheld the rights of transgender adults, LGBT South Africans experience sizable barriers to economic inclusion based upon race, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression. Black Africans (79.2%) are the majority in South Africa, followed by “Colored”/mixed race ancestry (8.9%), White (8.9%), Indian or Asian (2.5%), and other (0.5%).3 Although Apartheid ended in 1994, 25 years ago, South Africa is regarded as having one of the highest levels of inequality in the world.4 For instance, analyses of the 2011 South African census show unemployment rates for Black, Colored, and White same-sex households at 30.9%, 16.7%, and 4.2%, respectively, as compared to 26.4%, 14.1%, and 3.8% for different-sex households. 5 Although laws prohibiting same-sex sexual behavior were deemed unconstitutional in 1998, public attitudes towards homosexuality and gender nonconformity (expressions of masculinity and femininity that deviate from stereotypical sex-linked expectations of gender) remain negative. According to a 2016 survey led by the Other Foundation, seven out of 10 South Africans felt strongly that homosexual sex and breaking gender dressing norms were simply ‘wrong’ and ‘disgusting.’6 Levels of violence against LGBT people, as well as concerns about victimization among South African LGBT people are high.7 The Conceptual Framework for Action on the Social Determinants of Health8 informed this study. Norms and values that privilege the dominant group (white, heterosexual, cisgender, gender conforming) and stigmatize others (racial and sexual and gender minorities) shape living and working conditions. LGB (as well as T) stigma9,10 and structural racism11 are mediated through governmental and institutional policies, as well as through interpersonal dynamics, and influence exposure to violence, sexual assault, school-based bullying, as well as access to resources (i.e., wages, competent health services). Two primary data sources, the 2015 and 2016 South African Social Attitudes Surveys (2015/2016 SASAS) and the 2011 South African Census, were used to create a snapshot of the socioeconomic and health status of LGB and gender nonconforming adults, and, for the very first time, of same-sex cohabitating couples. As described in chapter IV, these, and other sources, including published articles and reports, were used to calculate estimates of the economic costs of stigma and discrimination against LGBT and other gender nonconforming people in South Africa.
Chapter
In this chapter, I highlight how teachers draw on problematic religious, legal, and pathological frameworks to include LGB learners and to teach about non-heterosexualities in schools. Unlike previous work, which shows how teachers use these narratives to exclude sexual minorities, the teacher responses in my study are different and echo similar assimilationists’ patterns found in the integration of African learners during the desegregation of South African schools. In this chapter, I trouble the assimilationist arguments for the inclusion of LGB youth and the teaching of non-normative sexualities and show how the normalizing of gender and sexuality diversity is insufficient for dealing with structural inequality as it merely reifies heterosexism and heteronormativity. I have organized the chapter into three themes: Love the sinner, not the sin; They, too, have rights; and Something happened.
Chapter
Queer civil society organizations (CSOs) in Southern Africa have been excluded from engaging in school-based advocacy as a result of systemic homophobia and transphobia in society broadly and in the education sector but this situation has begun to change in recent years. An example of this work is a Participatory Action Research informed partnership between researchers and CSOs in ten countries across Eastern and Southern Africa. The “School’s Out” project focused on the capacitation of CSOs to engage in sexual and reproductive health work in schools with a focus on sexual and gender diversity. Thematic findings emerging from the project data point to the need for multi-stakeholder dialogue and convening around issues of sexual and gender diversity in schooling; greater focus on education policy by LGBTI CSOs; sensitizing educators to issues of diversity; direct engagement with the determining role of cultural norms in relation to gender and sexuality; and greater understanding of the education sector as a whole.
Chapter
PurposeThis chapter focuses on gender, sexuality and security in post-Apartheid South Africa. Design/methodology/approachThe methodology includes secondary analysis of policy and research with the aim of highlighting and assessing the position of gender, sex and security in post-Apartheid South Africa. Feminist theory and intersectionality are used to discuss issues of sexuality, security, construction of gender relationships and experiences of being a woman in South Africa. The normalisation of violence against women is challenged. Social implicationsThe social implications of this research are that it challenges normalisation of gendered violence, questions gendercide and produces knowledge of a gendered social reality of living in South Africa. Women who consider assault a regular feature of their sexual relationships have been brought into a discourse which includes the liberalisation of sexual expression, claims to new sexual rights and aspirations to power and status through sexual relationships (Posel, 2005a). Practical implicationsThroughout the chapter the achievement of gender equality is problematised and questioned. However, gender and the relationship between power and sex remain at the centre of the inquiry, particularly with reference to the increasing culture of violence and men as the perpetrators of violence against women. Originality/valueAccording to Posel ‘one of the most striking features of the post-apartheid era has been the politicization of sexuality’ (2005a, p. 125) and this chapter demonstrates that a response to the violation of the Women’s Charter of Effective Equality, passed in 2000, is a priority as women and families are disproportionately affected by violence in multiple ways.
Chapter
In the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa a group of young African teenagers, aged between 16 and 17 are contesting the association between culture and sexuality. Sixteen-year-old Kanye argues, ‘culture and homosexuality don’t go together’. These words draw from a study examining the ways in which young people at school mediate knowledge about, gender, sexuality and violence in and around schools. Such mediation, as the transcripts above illustrate, is situated against the backdrop of increasing tensions between the claim to sexual equality in the country and the heightening concerns about homophobic violence. The claim that homosexuality is incompatible with culture and ‘un-African’ has gained notoriety on the African continent where 38 out of 55 countries criminalize same-sex relationships (Altman et al., 2012; Sigamoney & Epprecht, 2013). Despite evidence showing the manifestation of homosexuality in pre-colonial Africa (Epprecht, 2008), a dominant view on the continent is that homosexuality is an alien import and a western invention. In contrast to the draconian policies of many countries in Africa, South Africa guarantees equality on the basis of sexual orientation. Yet as Roehr (2010) notes, South Africa’s progressive sexual landscape has often been charged to be too white, too European and not truly African. Confirming this view, 17-year-old Wenzi above asserts that homosexuality is ‘good for other cultures, white people, not for us as Africans’.
Article
For recently arrived West African migrants in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro, the virtual and street encounters with travesti sex workers and queer beach goers provoked questions of relative power and status as experienced from a social margin of local Brazilian society. Based on ethnographic fieldwork since 2014, I address the question of how my Muslim interlocutors’ encounter with queers facilitate a particular and partial reading of Brazilian social relations, their legal mediation and their individual and social valuations. Moving between queer, postcolonial, queer of color and Muslim queer scholarship, I situate the local encounters of Muslim West Africans and queer subjects to differentiate and transcend the global framework of homonationalism and queer necropolitics. Situational positionalities result from the interplay of multiple geographical and social locations that, in their contradictions and interdependencies, are characteristic of contemporary urban configurations.
Article
Framed using queer theory and intersectionality theory, this paper unpacks the various ways in which Black South African male teachers who engage in same-sex relations negotiate and manage their identities in a context deeply riddled by the history of apartheid. Eight male teachers were interviewed using a life history methodology. Consistent with many international studies on the work experiences same-sex identifying teachers, the paper argues that the interviewed male teachers draw on a passing act in order to manage their identities in school contexts characterised by a culture of heteronormativity. This adopted passing act mainly draws upon the enactment of hyperprofessionalism, a localised form which safeguards same-sex ‘desiring’ teachers against possible homophobia. While this form of passing grants teachers significant respect and power, leading at times to the disruption of homophobia, not all teachers enjoy this power. Some teachers are forced out of their schools by threatened managers. The paper calls for more interventionist work at both basic education and higher education levels in South Africa in order to make schools more inclusive and welcoming for all students and teachers.
Data
Full-text available
Post-apartheid South Africa was founded on democratic values, and a constitution that enshrines the principles of human dignity, equality, and social justice. In stark contrast with constitutional guarantees of freedom and human rights for all, research indicates that homophobic victimisation is an endemic part of the South African landscape. Crimes motivated by prejudice ('hate crimes') are not recognised as a separate crime category in current legislation. Research conducted in Gauteng province illuminates the nature and prevalence of prejudice-motivated hate speech and victimisation against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people. These research findings, based on self-reported data, indicate a disconcertingly high prevalence of homophobic discrimination. The findings confirm that higher levels of 'outness', integration into lesbian and gay communities and challenging patriarchal gender roles, are all linked to increased rates of certain forms of homophobic victimisation. The relationship between gender presentation and vulnerability to victimisation points to the highly gendered nature of homophobic discrimination. Whilst existing policy frameworks within the ambit of the National Victim Empowerment Programme go some way in addressing homophobic discrimination, service provider deprioritisation, marginalisation, exclusion and targeted victimisation, are everyday realities in many communities. This is especially true for those who are perceived to differ from, or challenge, social and gender norms. The lack of targeted strategies to address LGBT discrimination negatively impact on the extent to which the criminal justice system and other service delivery agents can adequately respond. Hate crimes in South Africa require specific approaches in terms of legislative and policy responses. This paper considers possible multi-leveled measures to address hate crime both within the criminal justice system and in shaping appropriate service delivery responses more broadly. In particular, the paper explores homophobic discrimination in South Africa; highlights pertinent issues and impacts of sexual orientation-based hate victimisation; and considers contextually and historically appropriate remedies in this regard.
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, I explore the waves of homophobia that seem to be sweeping the African continent. I present evidence that homophobia is not only publicly approved by African leaders, but relies on unsubstantiated claims of an imposed homosexual identity, contradictory ideas on morality, and the use of outdated laws. I argue that these claims represent a façade that serves to entrench patriarchy and heteronormativity as legitimate and fixed in African societies. I show that the key difference between the West and Africa is not the presence or absence of same-sex desire, but its different social construction. Finally, I argue for an intersectional approach, which recognizes the intersections between sexism and homophobia, and assert that the situation calls for more focused organizing by Africans themselves in addressing the recent increase in expressions of homophobia.
Article
Full-text available
In order to explore the relevance of social concepts such as stigma and denial to the transmission of HIV, this qualitative study sought to examine cultural and racial contexts of behaviour relevant to the risk of HIV infection among South Africans. A cultural model was used to analyse transcripts from 39 focus group discussions and 28 key informant interviews. Results reveal how cultural and racial positionings mediate perceptions of the groups considered to be responsible and thus vulnerable to HIV infection and AIDS. An othering of blame for HIV and AIDS is central to these positionings, with blame being refracted through the multiple prisms of race, culture, homophobia and xenophobia. The study's findings raise important questions concerning social life in South Africa and the limitation of approaches that do not take into account critical contextual factors in the prevention of HIV and care for persons living with AIDS.
Article
A rich and engrossing account of 'sexual outlaws' in the Hausa-speaking region of northern Nigeria, where Islamic law requires strict separation of the sexes and different rules of behavior for women and men in virtually every facet of life. The first ethnographic study of sexual minorities in Africa, and one of very few works on sexual minorities in the Islamic world. Engagingly written, combining innovative, ethnographic narrative with analyses of sociolinguistic transcripts, historical texts, and popular media, including video, film, newspapers, and song-poetry. Analyzes the social experiences and expressive culture of 'yan daudu (feminine men in Nigerian Hausaland) in relation to local, national, and global debates over gender and sexuality at the turn of the twenty-first century. Winner of the 2009 Ruth Benedict Prize in the category of "Outstanding Monograph".
Article
Many black Zimbabweans believe that homosexuality was introduced to the country by white settlers and is now mainly propagated by ‘the West’. The denial of indigenous homosexual behaviours and identities is often so strong that critics have been quick with accusations of homophobia. Yet those critics unfairly impose a rather crude and ultimately unhelpful analysis. Without denying that violent forms of homophobia do exist in Zimbabwe, the invisibility of indigenous homosexualities has more complex origins. This article examines the many, overlapping discourses that are constructed into the dominant ideology of masculinity and that contrive to ‘unsay’ indigenous male‐to‐male sexualities. It seeks in that way to gain insight into the over determination of assertively masculinist behaviour among Zimbabwean men today. It also draws lessons for researchers on the importance of interrogating the silences around masculinity.
Article
Remarkable progress has been made towards the recognition of sexual minority rights in Africa. At the same time, a marked increase in attacks, rhetorical abuse, and restrictive legislation against sexual minorities or ‘homosexuality’ makes activism for sexual rights a risky endeavour in many African countries. Campaigns for sexual rights and ‘coming out’ are frequently perceived as a form of Western cultural imperialism, leading to an exportation of Western gay identities and provoking a patriotic defensiveness. Cultures of quiet acceptance of same-sex relationships or secretive bisexuality are meanwhile also problematic given the high rate of HIV prevalence on much of the continent. This article examines specific initiatives that are using subtle, somewhat covert means to negotiate a path between rights activism and secretive bisexuality. It argues that strategies primarily focused on health concerns that simultaneously yet discreetly promote sexual rights are having some success in challenging prevalent homophobic or ‘silencing’ cultures and discourses.
Article
Talk of 'ensonga zo Ssenga' (Ssenga matters) among the Baganda people of Uganda signifies an institution that has endured through centuries as a tradition of sexual initiation. At the helm is the paternal (or surrogate) aunt whose role is to tutor young women in a range of sexual matters, including pre-menarche practices, pre-marriage preparation, erotics and reproduction. In contemporary Uganda, commercial Ssenga services abound, with Ssenga columns and call-in radio programmes and Ssenga booklets for sale on Kampala's streets. The institution is being transformed by 'modernisation' and urbanisation, redrawing the boundaries of Ssenga to suit the times. This article suggests that while Ssenga facilitates and reinforces patriarchal power, at the same time it subverts and parodies patriarchy. Through a deconstruction of the arrangement of gender and sexuality in Ssenga, this article investigates constructs of Kiganda sexuality, and of femininity and masculinity within them.
Article
Public Culture 14.2 (2002) 361-385 One of the more compelling issues to emerge out of the gay movement in the last two decades is the universalization of "gay rights." This project has appropriated the prevailing U.S. discourse on human rights in order to launch itself on an international scale. Following in the footsteps of the white Western women's movement, which had sought to universalize its issues through imposing its own colonial feminism on the women's movements in the non-Western world—a situation that led to major schisms from the outset—the gay movement has adopted a similar missionary role. Organizations dominated by white Western males (the International Lesbian and Gay Association [ILGA] and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission [IGLHRC]) sprang up to defend the rights of "gays and lesbians" all over the world and to advocate on their behalf. ILGA, which was founded in 1978 at the height of the Carter administration's human rights campaign against the Soviet Union and Third World enemies, asserts that one of its aims is to "create a platform for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgendered people internationally, in their quest for recognition, equality, and liberation, in particular through the world and regional conferences." As for IGLHRC, which was founded in 1991, its mission is to "protect and advance the human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status." It is these missionary tasks, the discourse that produces them, and the organizations that represent them that constitute what I call the Gay International. Like the major U.S.-based human rights groups (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International) and many white Western feminist organizations, the Gay International has reserved a special place for the Muslim world in both its discourse and its advocacy. This orientalist impulse, borrowed from predominant representations of the Arab and Muslim worlds in the United States and Europe, continues to guide all branches of the human rights community. As a relative latecomer to this assimilationist project, the Gay International has had to catch up quickly. To do so, supporters of the Gay International's missionary tasks have produced two kinds of literature on the Muslim world: an academic literature of historical, literary, and anthropological accounts, written mostly by white male European or American gay scholars, which purport to describe and explain "homosexuality" in the past and present of the Arab and Muslim worlds; and journalistic accounts of the lives of so-called gays and (much less so) lesbians in the contemporary Arab and Muslim worlds. The former seeks to unravel the mystery of Islam to a Western audience, whereas the latter aims to inform white gay sex-tourists about the region. The larger mission, as I describe below, is to liberate Arab and Muslim "gays and lesbians" from the oppression under which they allegedly live by transforming them from practitioners of same-sex contact into subjects who identify as homosexual and gay. The following remarks may be taken as typical. Lisa Power, co-secretary general of ILGA, states that "most Islamic cultures don't take kindly to organized homosexuality, even though male homoeroticism is deep within their cultural roots! . . . most people are too nervous to organize, even in countries with a high level of homosexuality." Robert Bray, public information director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and an officer of ILGA, understands that "cultural differences make the definition and the shading of homosexuality different among peoples. . . . But I see the real question as one of sexual freedom; and sexual freedom transcends cultures." Describing his adventures in Morocco and southern Spain, Bray states that "at least one guy expressed a longing to just be gay and not have to live within the prescribed sexual behaviors, and he said that there were others like him." Seemingly convinced by this one conversation, Bray declares: "I believe this longing is universal." In contradistinction to the liberatory claims made by the Gay International in relation to what it posits as an always already homosexualized population, I argue that it is the discourse of the Gay International that both produces homosexuals, as...
Perceptions of Homosexuality and Identity in Two South African Townships: Findings from a Household Survey
  • Sigamoney Veronica
Perceptions of Homosexuality and Identity in Two South African Townships: Findings from High School Learners
  • Sigamoney Veronica
Perceptions of Homosexuality and Identity in Two South African Townships: Findings from Police
  • Sigamoney Veronica