Michael Hamar

Young Gay Activists in South Africa

Filed By Michael Hamar | March 28, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: gay activists, gay rights, homophobic behavior, South Africa

One of the most amazing things about blogging is the way in Ernest.jpgwhich it has allowed me to have contact with people literally from all across the globe. I find it exciting and encouraging to find smart, articulate, sensitive and passionate activists from all corners of the world.

A case in point is Ernest Oosthuizen, a 23-year-old South African who with his partner, Sipho (they are pictured on the right with Ernest on the left) who want to do their part to end homophobia and the toll of needlessly lost and damaged lives that are too often its fruits.

Here are some of Ernest and his partner's goals in their own words which I posted on my blog:

We are working together in laying the foundation for an organization we would love to see blossom one day. It's been an idea in the making for the past 6 months and we're both very passionate. It's called EndTheFear. . . . Our lofty end goal would be to get Toll-free hotlines and counseling for LGBT teens in South Africa. But as of yet, we're still dreaming big and doing what we can with what we have.

The following is a piece written by Ernest that struck me as full of sensitivity and feeling. It is followed by a video that he and his partner have put together. Admittedly, the approach endorsed will not work for those like Maggie Gallagher, Byan Fischer, Tony Perkins, et al who peddle hate and intolerance for profit. But it could work with some who need to open their minds and hearts.

End The Fear

Bullying and homophobia stretches far beyond just the direct visible act of the word, and many times goes unnoticed by the people not involved. To the person bullied it's a constant fear; the undertones in conversations, the smirk and jeering eye contact and that knowledge that at any moment you can become a punch line to a "that's so gay joke". It's the silent abuse.

Watching the news reports on the vast amount of bullying that goes on, shows something needs to be done. We know above all else that these kids are just the tip of the iceberg. The thing with bullying of this sort is that many times people keep to themselves, hoping not to bring more attention to the issue. So maybe the best way, is to empower the person bullied, saying hang in there, you're beautiful! There would be nothing sadder than to see another life lost over another's ignorance and fear.

To most people, none of this is new; we've all lived with this fear. That is the thing all human beings have in common, we fear rejection, we fear ending up alone, so the Darwinian-like instinct in us want to be "normal" and fit in. In every person this fear lingers.

So what is homophobia to me? It is the ultimate fear of homosexuals- the fear that our existence will bring harm. In truth there is nothing threatening about me. I don't want to hunt, lock up or impose sanctions on the rights of any "straight" person. My existence has no influence on the goings-on of your daily life. Rationally and logically, homophobia makes no sense. The misconceptions are vast, and it all stems from the stagnant and oppressed views of people stuck in the past.

How do we end homophobia? How do we end the fear? Homophobia is broken whenever people start thinking for themselves, when people ask: "What is evil about it?" It is the liberation of the mind, and change that comes from within. Informing people, bringing change to their outlook.

Showing people that there's nothing to fear and bringing self-realization from within is our goal. To end homophobia we must end the fear.

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What a wonderful piece. Thank you so much for this story and the video. It's power and vision moved me to use it myself. Keep up the great work!


You should connect them with the folks from the Trevor Project, Michael.

Intern Jake and contributor R Conrad have both spent time in South Africa and might know of other resources too.