This kiss will go down in history
In one kiss, screened live on TV, Gus Kenworthy has broken down barriers.
The US freestyle skier kissed partner Matt Wilkas at PyeongChang before competing at the Winter Olympics.
Screened live on NBC, it was shown in the US and around the world.
Commenters referred to the actor as his boyfriend and even showed supporters waving rainbow flags.
‘It’s something I was too scared to do for myself,’ Kenworthy said after the competition.
‘To be able to do that, to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcast to the world, is incredible.
‘The only way to really change perceptions, to break down barriers, break down homophobia, is through representation.
He added: ‘That’s definitely not something I had as a kid.
‘I never saw a gay athlete kissing their boyfriend at the Olympics.
‘I think if I had, it would’ve made it easier for me.’
Prior to the event, Kenworthy spoke about how proud he was to have his partner there.
Canadian figure skater Eric Radford became the first openly gay man to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympic Games. He and his skating partner Meagan Duhamel took first place in the free skate programme at the Gangneung Ice Arena in South Korea.
The pair had a little help from Adele, whose song Hometown Glory was the music for their routine. “If you have the wrong piece of music and it doesn’t connect with the audience or the judges, it doesn’t really matter how great you skate, you’re gonna be missing something,” the 33-year old said.
Until South Korea, no athlete had previously participated in the Winter Games as an openly gay man (there are four this year).
Radford competed in the Games at Sochi, in Russia, and won a silver medal, but he wasn’t out at the time. He came out at the end of 2014 and got engaged to his boyfriend, Spanish ice dancer Luis Fenero, in June last year.
Other LGBT athletes are also making their mark in South Korea. Adam Rippon, 28, from the USA won a bronze in the team skating event in his Olympic debut.
Rippon earlier made headlines when he criticised Vice President Mike Pence as unsuitable to head up the American delegation to the Games due to the politician’s anti-LGBT views. Rippon also said he had no interest in meeting Pence.
Ireen Wüst, 31, the bisexual speed skater from the Netherlands, broke Olympic records when she added another two medals to her previous stash of eight medals (four golds, three silvers and one bronze). She won gold in the Women’s 1500m race and a bronze in the 3000m. This makes Wüst the most decorated Olympic speed skater of all time.
There are around 13 openly-queer contenders in the Games, up from seven at the 2014 Winter Olympic in Sochi. The Summer Olympic Games, which is a much larger event, sported 56 out Olympians in Rio in 2016.
Tunisian LGBTI rights activists can celebrate their success in organizing the country’s first Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival.
Tunisia’s first ever film festival celebrating LGBT communities opened on Jan. 15 in defiance of the country’s laws that prohibit homosexuality.
The four-day “Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival” showed twelve short and medium-length films produced in Tunisia and across the Middle East and North Africa.
The event was organised by Mawjoudin, Arabic for “We Exist”, a Tunisian non-governmental association which defends the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
It is the first event of its kind in Tunisia and the organisers say the “festival conceives of itself as audacious”.
The films “speak of sexuality, identity and gender affiliation,” Senda Ben Jebara, a member of Mawjoudin, said.
“Through this festival we would like to give a space to queer people in general in order to escape a bit from social pressure, and also to identify with something, find a means to express ourselves,” she said.
“We are trying to fight not only in the courts but through art.”
Ben Jebara said the messages which the festival would like to get across are that “we are different but we exist and differences are welcome”.
Mourad, a 21-year-old festival-goer, said the film fest “helps to strengthen the LGBT community and brings together people who are considered different”.
Gay rights activists have emerged from the shadows in Tunisia since the revolution in 2011, but their position remains precarious in the North African country’s conservative Muslim society.
Article 230 of the penal code includes a punishment of up to three years in prison for homosexuality and young men are regularly detained and prosecuted.
An online radio station catering for the LGBT community, believed to be the first of its kind in the Arab world, started broadcasting in Tunisia on December 18.
But [that radio station] Shams Rad, which was set up by LGBT rights group Shams and promotes “dignity, equality”, is now facing legal procedures aimed at shutting it down.
By Peter Tatchell
Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation
Equality is the mantra of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights. South Africa, too, has an equality clause in its constitution. A laudable aspiration, but it’s not enough. Although equal rights is a step forward, it represents a lack of imagination, confidence and vision.
Over the last half a century, Britain and other European nations have made great strides by repealing discriminatory laws and providing a wide range of legal protections for women and minorities. Starting with laws against racial and gender discrimination, we’ve gradually seen equality legislation extended to secure similar protections on the grounds of disability, religion and belief, age, sexual orientation and gender identity. In South Africa, all of this is enshrined in the constitution, and various rulings of the Constitutional Court have further cemented our rights.
But hold on. Equality is important, but it isn’t the panacea that many advocates claim. Equal rights for LGBT+ people, for example, means parity within a pre-existing framework of values, laws and institutions devised historically by and for the heterosexual majority. Equality within the established “straight” system involves conformity to their rules. This is a formula for assimilation and incorporation, not liberation.
Although getting rid of anti-LGBT+ discrimination is an important and commendable goal, it will not resolve all the problems faced by queer people. Some of our difficulties arise not from homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, but from the more general erotophobic and sex-negative nature of much contemporary culture, which also harms heterosexuals. These destructive puritanical attitudes are evident in the censorship of consenting adult sexual imagery, the inadequacy of sex education in schools and the criminalisation of sex workers and consensual sadomasochistic relationships in the UK and many other European countries. Equality with these restrictions hardly amounts to emancipation.
Equal rights is essentially about accepting the status quo and winning equal treatment within it. But who wants equality within a fundamentally flawed and unjust society? Surely the real prize must be to transform society, not merely secure equal rights within the confines of what exists? For true human liberation, we need a visionary agenda beyond equality – an agenda to change society from what it is, to what it could be.
Giving everyone equal legal protection against discrimination is just the first step. We also have to ensure these laws are effectively interpreted and enforced. There’s no point having good equality legislation if, for instance, employers don’t ensure equal opportunities and stamp out sexual harassment in the workplace, or if police don’t crackdown on racist attacks, sexual violence and anti-LGBT+ hate crime.
The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival has proudly announced that it will make history by hosting the 10th edition of the Mr Gay World competition in Knysna in May 2018.
This will be the third time that South Africa has presented the prestigious event; a world first. It will also be the second time that the contest will be held during the Pink Loerie, Africa’s biggest LGBTIQ+ cultural festival.
Eric Butter, President of Mr Gay World, revealed that three other cities had expressed interest in hosting the next Mr Gay World, but “when the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival Knysna 2018 came forward I couldn’t have been more overjoyed.”
He explained: “The 10th Mr Gay World marks a milestone and is very important for our organisation. We have worked with the team in South Africa twice and it has always been a great pleasure; they have the very best work ethic and they always deliver a world class event.”
Butter added: “We also decided on South Africa because we wanted the international community to support the rebuilding of Knysna after the devastating fires in June by incorporating it with the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival Knysna 2018.”
Since the blazes ravaged the region, the Pink Loerie organisers have played an active role in raising funds, sourcing material assistance and bringing awareness about the crisis in order to bolster the local community.
This was acknowledged by the Executive Mayor of Knysna, Eleanore Bouw-Spies, who thanked the festival for its efforts. She and the Knysna Municipality also enthusiastically welcomed the town’s hosting of Mr Gay World 2018 as a further boost to its recovery.
“I do not hesitate in throwing my support behind this initiative and categorically state this event carries my full endorsement,” said Bouw-Spies.
“With the added benefit of hosting Mr Gay World, the 2018 Pink Loerie will, without a doubt, lure more visitors to our legendary LGBTIQ+ festival and beautiful area.”
Bouw-Spies continued: “Greater Knysna will receive much-needed national and international exposure, proving to the world that we are most definitely ‘open for business’ despite the terrible tragedy of the recent fires.”
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