September, 2013 / Author: admin

A story of hope

I just had the opportunity to read “Diary of a Gender Confirmation” in your July/ August issue, and I wanted to say thank you to both OutWords and to Rollin Penner, the article’s author, for providing such a great story of hope. I myself am a young genderqueer individual, and I haven’t yet decided what course of action I will take in order to feel more comfortable as myself inside the world, but it was beautiful to see the support of others on this journey. The intelligence with which Penner writes, recognizing that Vic truly is male- enabling him to become a complete version of himself- struck me, because it is an example of the simple and impossibly difficult understanding that we as a community struggle for. All in all, it is good to know that there are people behind us in our decisions, trusting us. It is for that reason that we have the courage to change. I offer my thanks to you all, and congratulations as well to Vic, for pursuing his happiness.

– Ellen/Kell Hagerman



Africa is not a country 

This means that, more than often, the representation of GLBTQ*Q* issues in Africa will be based primarily on western perspectives. For instance, in the article on the recently passed anti-gay law in Nigeria, the writer chose to segue into the predictable western media tagline when discussing (and condemning) homophobia in Africa, “the U.K. has threatened to cut aid to African countries that violate the rights of gays and lesbians.” 


In addition, the writer chose to include “corrective rape” in South Africa as though the government ruling in Nigeria was in some way connected to this heinous hate crime in South Africa. This misinforms readers, as the implicit message here is, Africa is a homophobic country. Yes, country. This is because in the context of GLBTQ* rights, Africa is usually reduced from a continent to a country. Why are there no similar comparisons on GLBTQ* rights in India and China, which are both in Asia?

It should be noted that heinous hate crimes are committed against GLBTQ* people in every country in the world. That is beyond horrific, but it is a reason for GLBTQ* people to work in solidarity, instead of perpetuating divisive stereotypes. Hate crimes against GLBTQ* people need be contextualized in order to be understood and reduced. Comparing GLBTQ* hate crimes in South Africa to government policy in Nigeria makes it seem like the underlying “Africanness” is the reason for homophobia on the continent.

OutWords (and other western GLBTQ* media) can do much better in representing GLBTQ* issues in Africa. The recent Anambra protest over the detention of two gay men would have been a better segue as that not only keeps the readers focused on GLBTQ* issues in Nigeria, but it also informs readers that there are GLBTQ* people in Nigeria who are fighting against the injustice. No mainstream GLBTQ* media outlet – not even The Advocat – covered this story. Why?

– Tokini

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