By Keba, South Africa
A session that was supposed to be about experiences of hate crimes, and remembering people we have lost at the hand of homophobia ended up into something else. The session started so well, we had panelists who did presentations and expressions from different organisations, but same people that we always see in these meetings and panels. I loved what Chan from Zambia, if not mistaken said, who he identifies as a transmen. He feels that there is no unity within the feminist movement. A lot of people identified with her.
Two Palistinine women expressed their views on what they think about homosexuality in which a lot of people felt uncomfortable hearing such expressions and called them homophobic, especially in AWID. Isn’t that interesting? But what we need to realise is that, they have their own different background, and to quickly judge and crush is really not a strategic move, especially when we are in one struggle for change.
Like I said, what was suppose to be a session about hate crimes and experiences ended up into an emotional session where people expressed their anger and hurt by organisations. These are some of the quote: “We attend matches, risk our lives on TV and papers for change, we write about our sad stories on books during the 16 days of activism, we attend the same meetings that are facilitated by the same people, the terminologies are beyond our understanding, and there is never a follow up. Follow up, is it important?”
After our brave efforts on TV and papers, we are never called the next day just to check how we travelled home and if we are safe or not. The same people in the townships that victims us sexually maybe, pose threats, we speak about these issues to the same orgs that we make efforts for in solidarity but there has never been a change to protect us. No empowerment for those who need it, those who risk their lives to advocate for change, but we are in solidarity.
Some felt the need to go corporate because the movement is not inclusive of other marginalised people, doesn’t recognise the need to empower when necessary. In South Africa, black lesbians have taken a brave stand to speak out as an effort to change and be part of but it is not in reality, it is an ambition I say. We have never seen a young, black lesbian in any of these panels, representing other young voices in our language unlike the number you see in the street, outside the courts.
A lot of people, particularly black lesbian feels that they are important during the 16 days of activism and matches but never in these spaces.
Others felt that they are not feminst and in fact the movement on its own is divided. There is no unity.
As a young, black feminist with a lesbian identity, I share the same sentiment with those who expressed how they felt. It is painful, it is tiring. Some even gate crashed the meeting just to be in the space and express these issues.
Are we really in solidarity? Is empowerment important and for who? We are represented, wow, great effort but is it how we would want our voices to be painted?