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R.I.P Sense8

Fans and wannabe clusters were outraged last week at the cancellation of Sense8. The Netflix show proved just too expensive and logistically unsound to continue. With two seasons under its belt, the show is no more.

My friend Theo said it best: “This show deserved better”. For an analysis of the first season, check his blog here.

Sense8 was both product and victim of its time. It was meant to be consumed as it was conceived – together. Although part of the binge revolution brought on by streaming service Netflix, the show was not capable of being satisfactorily digested in one sitting. There were too many issues and complexities for us mere sapiens, unfortunately.

Part of the problem was simply explaining what it was about. Eight people from around the world are telepathically connected and are in turn, hunted for this unique ability? Yes, sure. But also, No! It was so much more, are the echoes from the many (we assume) who watched it.

How would I describe it? Stay with me here. Dom krag. Sometimes called blinde krag. For those of you not familiar with Afrikaans slang, those would translate directly as dumb strength and blind strength respectively. They are used to describe how, when confronted, someone goes into a rage and will fight with strength seemingly beyond their capabilities – going dumb or blind and not able to explain how they fought the way they did. Or maybe when you seduce someone, and you instinctively “become” someone else as you have to transform to complete this task. Getting into character, like method acting, but with the character there to help you. That’s how I thought of it. These people, when in need, would take over for each other and assume the role of the other person in need. You see, for cynics and detractors, confusing!

The show unfortunately suffered from the Wachowskis usual blend of philosophically pensive and verbose monologues, and kick ass action. Simultaneously at odds with itself and its pace, while setting a new standard for “television”, it was The Matrix, Cloud Atlas, V for Vendetta and other Wachowski vehicles, but in multiple hours long stretches. Apparently too much for too many of its viewers

*

“I fall in love with the person, not their genitals”.

If there’s one line that sums up how I feel about this show, it is this. Zakia, a Kenyan woman speaking to her male love interest, Capheus. Beyond the organisational conspiracy, action, intertwined plots, there was a kernel of unconditional love and being yourself that made this show so special to its core audience.

What else? Hope, strength in unity, finding your own voice. Finding others and fighting for each other and what you believe in. Survival. Regrets. Righting your wrongs. Atonement.

Another classic rant was transgender character Nomi Marks, played by trans actress Jamie Clayton, in the first season.

“For a long time, I was afraid to be who I am because I was taught by my parents that there’s something wrong with someone like me. Something offensive, something you would avoid, maybe even pity. Something that you could never love. I was afraid of this parade because I wanted so badly to be a part of it. So today, I’m marching for that part of me that was once too afraid to march. And for all the people who can’t march… the people living lives like I did. Today, I march to remember that I’m not just a me. I’m also a we. And we march with pride.” —Nomi

Read here for more awesome quotes from the show.

But could there be hope? Fan outrage saved HBO’s gay show ‘Looking’. Also cancelled after two seasons, Patrick and co got a wrap-up film to tie up loose ends and give fans closure. Maybe with enough noise, and working as one, fans and follower and sensates will get the ending they crave.

Alas, Netflix has said that there will not be any reprisal for the show.

Rest in pieces, and peace, Sense8.

https://i2.wp.com/cdn3.thr.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/scale_crop_768_433/2017/04/sense8.jpg

The cast. A family, fam. 

Image: The Hollywood Reporter

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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The endings of dreams

“Gay kids can be selfish too, and should have more patience and empathy with parents, because what the parents are dealing with is the end of a dream”.

A friend said this a few years ago and I never forgot it. It was so counter to what we’re expected to believe.

Dreams might not always be realistic, but we still have them. The strangers we meet when we sleep might be manifestations of people we know and have seen, but that does not mean we have control over them . Likewise dreaming while awake also takes over and we get caught up in what we think we know.

Expectations may not be fair, but they are expected. Unfortunately we’re human and we tend to hope that things will go a certain way. Stick to the script.

Normal, yes; but detrimental to happiness? Possibly… definitely.

As I deal with a breakup and wonder why I am still upset (or just disappointed?) I realise that some dreams are meant to end.

How does a dream end? We don’t know, and never will. Ever think about that? There will never be a conclusion. This is not Inception.

I relate to this from an article on Salon – Why we cant remember dreams:

When we sleep, wrote English psychiatrist Havelock Ellis over a hundred years ago, we enter a ‘dim and ancient house of shadow’. We wander through its rooms, climb staircases, linger on a landing. Towards morning we leave the house again. In the doorway we look over our shoulders briefly and with the morning light flooding in we can still catch a glimpse of the rooms where we spent the night. Then the door closes behind us and a few hours later even those fragmentary memories we had when we woke have been wiped away.

And that’s what happens when dreams bleed over into the real world. We are opened up to a realm of possibility and endless hope. Then there’s the pain.

This reminded me of anecdotal experiences from people who’ve said that physical pain is a sensation we can’t remember. I raised this point in a conference, and I got shouted down, but the more I think about it, I realised that I don’t remember the sensation of physical pain. Think about it. Come on, science, prove me right!

That time I stepped on a rusty nail and shrieked in pain; post wisdom teeth removal surgery; the time I fell on my face; my fall on a recent hike (Ok, I may have been drunk, but it still counts. Drunk hiking is a real thing, get on board). As my knee heals from that hike, I can feel the itch as my scab gets knitted from below and gets pushed off, its job nearly complete. And then it will be over.

Our bodies understand pain. Whether its pus or a scab, we get cloaked in a protective blanket for as long as we need, and then healing happens and we move on with our lives.

Emotionally and mentally we have not evolved as far yet.

Despite the dream being perfect and according to script, a feeling of dread can still set in. Fear is an enemy that never lets go. And it often leads a mark.

“Yes, we are left with (fear). Scarring can do that. Wounds heal. Scars don’t,” said my friend Glynn.

Ever the biologist, I tried justifying scarring as leaving us tougher and stronger.

He politely shut me down and said: “[A] scar indicates a weak spot. A specific vulnerability. That’s the biological fact, not the metaphorical myth. But we can live with scars. And move. Maybe not even while “moving on” or “moving ahead”. Maybe we just move. Scars have little sensory tissue. So it feels rougher. The nerves don’t grow back. Maybe that could be a metaphor for trust”

I’ve always told you that I have smart friends.

So does a dream ever end?

One of my favourite stories, again dealing with pain and dreams, is the one where I am falling. Apparently this is an indicator of losing control. Ya think?!

Well I was a teenager and my bed was pushed against the wall. In the dream, in which I was free falling mid air, I got closer to the ground, arms flailing and panic setting in. I woke up, but as I was supposed to land, I jerked forward and knocked my head against the wall. Hard.

I fell and bruised, but I lived. I survived.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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Same old story

Then you wonder, is this not supposed to get easier with age? Is experience not doing its job if this is the effect? Is it arrogant to take this as a failure?

Oh its nothing new. You’ve heard it a million times. A little ‘like’ and some love slowly morphs into something unrecognisable until where you thought the shooting star would have landed, turns into a blob of longing.

A seething blob, that whimpers at the gentlest prod.

We met online – Twitter – January 2015, when I thought I saw someone that looked like him while jogging at UCT.

“I don’t go there,” he said. And that was that.

Cue 10 months later when he told me someone else messaged him to say they saw him on the train. We were dealing with a doppelganger. It was our story. It was whimsical and whenever I told it I would come alive.

My face lit up and people smirked at how cute I felt, and they laughed at how animated I told the beginnings of our tale.

As my current relationship wound down to its natural end, this burgeoning friendship took off. It was purely direct messages on Twitter. It was exciting and fun and innocent.

“Hey youre somewhat of a language expert, right?” he asked while I was out on an assignment.

“Whats a bottle job wanker?” he asked.

Another of our jokes.

I replied between glasses of water and walks around the block, upon waking and well into the night. I couldn’t wait for the messages. They became frequent and inquisitive – “hey” and “hey you!” were commonplace. I would light up when the chat conversation was initiated.

I was not pushing, nor was I hoping. This was new territory for me. Did I mention he is a scientist? Swoon! Later when we met he would tell me about his research and I thought how exciting that’s going to be when completed. He came alive as he explained his thesis topic and I loved it. But that was only much later.

Between October and December this was the routine. It wasn’t all perfect – there was the time I called him the Hitler of something. He didn’t take that analogy well. Granted. We got over it pretty quickly.

He offered to donate books for a charity drive I was helping out with. It turned out it was an excuse to meet and buy me a coffee. It worked, but never happened. Not just yet.

We spoke about movies all the time. He was a nerd. I thought I was one too.

“Say something in nerd,” he challenged.

“I think I’m more nerd lite,” I conceded.

He was competitive. We played thumb wars and he always won. We were the dream 30 Seconds team. Every team Ive played on has won. I looked forward to winning with him.

But before we got there, I passed the audition and went from direct message to WhatsApp. It was a triumph – a logical outcome for these things, but a triumph none the less. It felt well-earned and the next step.

We met at the theatre – nerds! – to watch Singin’ in the Rain at the Artscape. It was one night, and many chat conversations, where the courtship went completely over my head.

For someone who gets told that they’re smart, my brain would shut down and be completely oblivious to signals being thrown my way.

I was throwing myself at you, he would later say.

I look back and the lightbulbs pop all over my mind like a faulty fuse box.

“Its not as easy as you… me…date” I texted one day in the last week of December. We were talking about dating and how hard it is to find a decent man.

“Hey Jerome. You.. me… date,” he said.

I LOL’d. I was not used to forthright, candid and cute. I was used to being dealt assumptions and then next steps. Direct messages were direct!

“You could have just said no,” he said.

An awkward tug-and-pull set the tone for things to come, as I said “don’t go, come back, I misunderstood”.

The situation was placated.

That same night I got invited to the house he was house sitting. There was a hot tub. I had already started a process of spontaneity and better living. This “say yes” mantra coincided with my leaving my house at 11pm at his invitation, with work the next day and a half-hour drive to see him. It was worth it.

I met his brother, his cousin and her boyfriend. They seemed to like me.

“Oh you’re the journalist?!” was what greeted me by his slightly drunk cousin. “And you must look after him,” she said between getting to know me.

Yes, yes I will, I thought. He spoke about me! He must like me! She must sense something that I don’t yet! She was being maternal. They grew up together and this was a good sign! The exclamations were aplenty that night.

“Don’t laugh at my body,” I said.

“Don’t be silly,” he said.

I still thought I was a little too doughy and pale next to him. He had swum 70 laps that morning. I had sat at my desk and read tweets and made phone calls.

“Would you really not date me?!” he asked again in the pool.

This one is persistent, I thought.

But it paid off. After some jostling, and with my 1am curfew approaching, I left. But not before another “say yes” moment.

“I’m going now,” I said, half inside my car.

“Ok.”

“No really, I’m going now! I said. I have work in a few hours”

“Okaay,” he said unconvincingly.

I walked up to him and we kissed. Tentatively at first. Weary. Soft. Eyes closed. I was still speaking. The words escape me as they escaped me.

“You talk a lot,” he said, smiling, teasing more kisses from my lips.

I pushed him against the wall and I stopped talking.

“Where is he?” we heard his brother ask.

He jumped onto the wall and said, “I’m still here”. And the jostling continued until I forced myself to leave.

New years eve was the next night – “I want to see you.”

I jumped.

Work took forever. All I could think about was the impending night and seeing him. No expectations. I survived the dreaded new year’s shift and rushed home to shower.

“What should I bring?” I asked.

Condoms and vodka, he said.

Ok, I thought, not over thinking – my default setting.

It was a joke, made worse by the slow cellphone reception.

But the night was perfect, punctuated by hand holding, movie watching, talk of being serious and exclusive (he asked, I said yes) and drinking games. Getting-to-know-you games as we called them that night. There was truth and dare and skinny dipping. Say yes, remember?

Then the descent. Surely you didn’t think there was no descent?

Act three and the energy shifts. Messages take longer to be replied to. Time is negotiated. Jokes are taken out of context. Other jokes are made.

“I make myself too available to you,” I texted. “Im going to friend zone you, just to keep things fresh”.

“Are you serious?” (of course I wasn’t!)

“Of course not!”

“Don’t joke like that. That kind of thing will make me put up walls,” he said.

It was a shock. He was the one who said 90% of what he said shouldn’t be taken seriously.

“I’m the funny one. You’re the serious one,” he said.

I happen to think I am mildly amusing at best. At least! Hmph.

Dates were still fun, but the lightness had gone. We teased each other. Sometimes it went too far.

He rubber-necked when a hot guy would walk past. I humoured it. We all stare, I thought. But that much? In my presence? Surely I should be enough. It was not a question.

“You ARE enough,” said a friend. I doubted it.

Cue to more dates being planned, but with a weariness that proved waning interest.

“You cant dump me until after Valentine’s Day. Any time after that will be ok,” I joked. It was to be preemptively prophetic. 19 days after the new year had started, more misunderstandings and miscommunications.

“Are you comfortable with your sexuality?” was the message I received that got the ball rolling.

Of course I am, I thought.

“Yes,” I said.

I didn’t kiss him when I took him home. I didn’t get a kiss the previous time, so I went with what I knew and thought “Go with that. Read the signs. Respect the space and be content with boundaries”. His granny was sassy, and I didn’t want to cause any offence (even though that night it was dark and we were outside in my car), but I considered her and people who might have been around, instead of claiming my kiss.

It translated to an insult. I had offended the ego and it wrecked havoc with his self esteem.

I wasn’t affectionate enough. I didn’t place him on the pedestal, like his ex did. He later regretted comparing me to the ex, but it was out there.

The wistful mentions of said ex went over my head at the time, but the tentacles of doubt took hold. I never made a big deal, but they were there, hanging on. As was I.

As the conversation – THAT conversation – flexed and contorted down the rabbit hole like a falling cat, the clearer it became that it was over.

But we have a date in three days, I thought. What about V-day?! You cant break the binding clause of St Valentine!

But it was broken. As were we. It became clear later in the night, with my usual insomnia now in full lucidity, that while I was asking “Are we ok?” an d even “Are you awake?” despite that glaring “Online” sign, he was avoiding the issue at hand.

“But he could have fallen asleep while still online,” is the rationale of the desperate. I am not 19, I thought. I am not supposed to be feeling this way. But it was over.

“I am sorry” was one message.

“Didn’t mean for this to happen” was another.

I made my usual appeasing jokes and blocked him on all social media platforms. I was not taking any chances. My eyes were puffy and I still had work in the morning. I got up and prepared lunch, at 2am. Sleep was not coming anytime soon. More tears.

I thought I was special. A whole 19 days. Surely a world record. Do we even count the online time?

“Pen your thoughts down. Write,” was a text from my mother. It was her birthday. I was supposed to wish her, instead I was up and wondering where it all went (goes) wrong.

Everyone thinks they’re special when we collide into a wall. But as you approach, open your eyes. There are skid marks and dents where others have been before. Its just another love story with an aborted end. Others have been here. You may be alone, but you’re not the only one who was here. Its just the same old story.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

Ashes – a review

Stefan Erasmus and Jason Jacobs in Ashes. Image – http://alexanderbar.co.za/show/Ashes/

What came first? The staging or the script. Do the two work together? Do they happen over time as they bleed into each other. These are questions as old as theatre itself, and probably with reasonable answers, and I couldn’t help but wonder while watching Ashes.

Deprecation aside, this review wont do anything to sway ticket sales for this play in its final week at the theatre at Alexander Bar in Cape Town. But good art must be appreciated where it can.

But back to the stage. Small – very small – restricting and inescapable. When the actors looked at me, I felt like they were actually looking at me and connecting, indicting and pleading; not merely looking through me as actors are supposed to.

Their performances grab you by the throat. When they break down, you will want to run up and hold them and say “It’s going to be ok” even though you knows it’s really not.

Ashes tells the story of two queer brown boys in Cape Town – a description that belies the depth of the story. These levels of depth felt while watching the two actors, Stefan Erasmus and Jason Jacobs’s characters dance around each other is breath taking.

They flit in and out of various characters, chipping away until the nuances in the archetypes are revealed. A flick of a jersey transforms a young man into a judgmental woman; a hoodie turns the other young man into his homophobic bully. The supporting characters all float around the main two, who interact with each other only briefly, letting the audience in on their tender moments – intimate, honest and gut wrenching, as we are driven to the conclusion, which was obvious but still impactful.

The mostly epistolary (letter writing) style works well, as the characters tell their stories without reaction from other characters. But the only downside I could find, which still works in its own way, was the crutch of exposition. Parents and son tell of his coming out story, and the conversation about what to call each other – boyfriends, lovers, partners? Forced, but still necessary. By virtue of its existence, queer work is still revolutionary, but somehow still new, therefore nothing can be taken for granted.

Don’t let the words queer and brown throw you off. It’s a story that many can relate to – the two lovers meet by chance in the city. One a small town buy. Forces work against them and their ghostly worlds are torn apart. The notion of love, not as obvious as in other works, binds the characters, but hardly ever at the same time.

I went in not knowing what the play was about other than the risky epithet of “gay play”, and was taken aback by the devastating account.

The audience was small, a lot less than the already small theatre at Alexander Bar could hold, which led me to believe that this was a play that was not being seen by as many people as it should.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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My Ideal Ship (not the boat kind)

My friend Nwabisa, ‘the hot mess’ (her official title) who blogs here, asked me if I’m over my “ship” yet. I remembered the conversation vaguely and thought she meant my current crush. It was something similar, but a lot more insane.

Alright, here goes… I’m in a ship. This is not easy for me to admit, because I have judged Nwabisa for her own shipping ways.
A ship, as she explained it, is a vicarious relationship with a fictional couple. Here’s a little description from Wiki:
Shipping, derived from the word relationship, friendship or worship, is the belief of (or desire for) two (or more) people, often fictional, to be in a romantic relationship. It is considered a general term for fans’ emotional involvement with the ongoing development of romance in a work of fiction.
When we established that she was asking me about Patrick and Richie from the HBO series Looking, and not vicarious delusional relationship, it all fell into place. Some excerpts from her in our convo:
“You’re almost a true shipper! Next you’ll be arguing with folks on forums””Have you googled them at least? Look for like minded individuals who feel the same way about your ship?”

The she asked me if Patrick and Richie are “canon”? (Oh boy, jargon)

She said: 

A ship that is officially recognised by the show. The opposite is fanon. When a pairing is created by fans but is not suggested by the show. They are not an official pairing with a chance of actually ending up together.Ron and Hermione are canon. Snape and Hermione are fanon.

She’s just a wee bit obsessed.

So my ship is with Patrick and Richie *sigh* Yes, I’m already sighing.  This image sums up how I felt watching them
I'm the guy in blue.

I’m the guy in blue.

The series garnered a fair amount of press – any “gay” show would. But this one got people upset because it was so “normal” and “boring”. I was a fan for the exact opposite reason. Having missed the “Queer as Folk” era and being a big huge fan of Will and Grace, I love when a TV show is focused (or heavily so) on gayness. Nay sayer critics would probably argue against this as we need to move on, and other idealistic fantasies, but minorities need focus too. And to me, anything gay, “good or bad” is great to me simply because of its subversive nature.
And that brings me to my ship, as I *sigh* again.
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Richie and Patrick made me believe again. Patrick is annoying as all hell, but the fortuitous nature of their meeting, the way that they got together and got back together despite a little drama, and then stayed together for a while made me swoon like nothing else in a while.
Why this ship means so much to me? They were so blissfully happy! It may have been a fleeting moment in television series time, but it seemed and felt so real. I connected to their conversations and stolen glances, the way they opened up to each other, the laughter and quiet moments between conversations.
The adage about art reflecting life could not have been more true with this ship. I now concede that I was unfair in judging other ships, even when I did not know they were called ships.
Episode 5 was such perfection that i go back to it every so often when i want love inspiration.  Read this for the best insight ever into that episode, but I would add that the relaxed nature of what they experienced – from the sex to conversation – despite Patrick’s neurotic behaviour, made this one such a treat to watch. When things turned sour, I felt it, like a knife to my ribs. I even clutched my heart and gasped at certain points. I’m dramatic, can you tell?
Love the one you’re with, and if you cant, then love yourself. But also, if you cant love yourself, then love the ones you’re watching.
You cant tell me you don’t want that. And if you cant have it, at least get it from a fantasy, right? Right?!
looking-for-the-future-patrick-richie-holding-hands-date
<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>
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Those old Bronx days

Let me tell you about those Bronx days. The old Bronx days.

You would enter that place and feel either completely brazen, or intimidated as shit. This happened to me on my first night there in 2005.

I walked in and felt powerful. People would be transformed. In my case, I spoke to the cutest guy I saw. Brendan was his name, I think. The details are sketchy now, as details tend to be in hindsight, but I do remember a lovely conversation, and him being completely not into me! It was an either/or environment. I saw him a few weeks later and greeted him by name, which shocked him. Names were apparently not always important, or required.

Bronx Action Bar in Cape Town represented a microcosm that I have yet to experience. That feeling probably speaks to the well-worn sayings about first times never being forgotten, for a variety of reasons.

The décor was sailor-disco, or something.

So why write about a gay bar?

Because I woke up one night this year and just remembered what it was like. 2006 – 2007 were the best years of my life. Yes, Bryan Adams lifted that line from my memory, Marty McFly-style. I was young, had great carefree friends and just enough money to have a good time and make the most of my early 20s.

We would greet with air kisses (completely out of character for me, throwing me into a new kind of deep end) and do a quick catch-up – work, studies, family, life, nothing too distracting. Things always look different in a dark room punctuated with flashing lights. We all went there to forget the outside world. It was special, different. Reviled by some, hard to resist by all.

We were friends for a few hours, and then we left; ready to deride the mundane until the next time. But you didn’t go there to make friends. Rather, it was a place to unite and escape.

And then it all came crashing down. Literally. The entire block, which had restaurants and other clubs, were torn down in a fit of yuppie development. I remember seeing it in the disrespectful Saturday sunlight – one huge pit of rubble and cranes, moulding a shiny new building.

I couldn’t help but feel like a part of my formative years was being broken down. My mind hearkened to a time that I didn’t even know; forced removals and buildings being torn down. A dark chapter in South Africa’s history, and nowhere near comparable, but it was the closest I have felt to reading, and being moved by Richard Rive’s Buckingham Palace  (a biographical book about District Six I read at school). Seeing a home, of sorts, a multicultural orgy of carefree fun happiness where nothing else mattered for a while.

When it was moved, to across the road no less, the inside was preserved and looked similar to the old establishment. But it was not the same. Everybody knew that. That feeling was gone. And before you even knew it, that Bronx was torn down too.

In the interim, when “new” Bronx (as I begrudgingly referred to it) was being built, Beaulah (lesbian) Bar popped up, I saw a “friend” from the “old” days. We complained that it was not the same as Bronx. We were being prissy, because Beaulah Bar was fine, but “it’s not Bronx” we nagged, to which he conceded, “it’s something” as he shrugged his shoulders.

I know that what I experienced was just one tiny slice in an establishment and history a lot bigger than I could ever imagine. I’ve heard other stories; I’ve heard better.

The stories of drugs escaped my naïve eyes until pointed out to me by friends. The place always seemed filthy and the smell of drain cleaner in the toilets, (which also served as occasional hook-up areas, I was shocked to discover) and then there was also the killing of the owner.

But just for that short time, it was mine. For those weekends when we escaped, it was ours, and it was great.

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

How to have anal sex: a jawonthefloor presentation (totes suitable for work)

First thing, realise the power and privilege that comes with being a bottom. What? You didn’t know that being a bottom comes with both power and privilege? Seems we have a lot to get through. Sit down, Uncle JAW has a few things to teach you, Floor Jawers. And thank you for ignoring all the obvious puns in that opening. I appreciate you keeping your giggles to a minimum. It was hard for me too. Ok, I’ll stop now.

Often oppression does not come only from the outside, but starts within us.  It’s true that if we push hard enough from the margins, the centre will implode, but that can only happen if we are empowered enough to do so. Now, this is nothing new. From female subjugation to that of black people the world over, and for this discussion, gay people and sexual oppression, it starts with empowering of the self.

Which leads me to that evil word – bottom. Many people revel in this, others find it offensive. For purposes of this discussion, I use it as a blanket term and acknowledge that labels are not for everybody. It refers to the supposedly submissive one in a partnership.

I should start in a strange way – the inverse. How not to have anal sex is to think less of yourself, and the act of sex; to think of it as a duty, or something that you should be doing and do it simply because it’s what you think you’re supposed to be doing.  Stop it right now.  The power and privilege of sex comes with the fact that your partner should (while not necessarily be begging at your feet, although the thought does give me a Cheshire cat smirk like no other) be grateful.

What I have seen as an observer of gay life is the ever-prevailing dynamic of top vs bottom, privileging the top and looking down at the bottom, even from other bottoms – essentially subjugation within subjugation. Like I always say, you have the world against you, why would you make it worse by fostering a sense of competition, further ghettoising ourselves?

Of course, you can just do whatever it is you want, and I am the fuddy-duddy who is trying to complicate things. That’s ok too. Take me with a pinch of salt, or just pinch my bum. Hey, I’m human too.

Regardless, how you should have anal sex is considered, thoughtful, careful, consensual, authoritatively and mutual. Respect your partner enough to respect yourself. Nothing will change if you do not change yourself. I saw an interesting debate this weekend about the role of women in porn. Someone commented about black women being the animals in porn, due to the way they were treated. As keen as I am to dissect issues of race, I initially disagreed, because, while I agree that all porn is about power and humiliation, she explained that within that realm, women are on an even lower wrung, with black women considered even lower. Therefore gay men should really, in my opinion, not disrespect themselves (and not enable said disrespect in their partners) and learn how to have anal sex

As you can tell, there wasn’t any actual advice about anal sex in here. Fool ya once, shame on me. If you found this blog post via a search looking for actual anal sex, and this came up, I do apologise.

But for those of you who want that, and didn’t glean any lesson from the above post, here goes (no images, unfortunately):

 

  • Take it slow. You set the pace.
  • You are in control.
  • Lots of lube. Actual lube.
  • If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.
  • Try different positions until it feels right.
  • Condom
  • Have fun
  • Condom. More lube. Still actual lube.
  • Your body, your choice.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

 

Cape Town Gay Pride? Let’s hope so

Disclaimer: I have shared many hyperlinks in this piece. I don’t usually do that. They are all previous posts by me, and are relevant to what I am saying.

What is there even to say about Pride at a time like this. Please refer to Google and check out the brilliant archive that is gay rights and the year that was… all two months of it thus far.

This is the first Cape Town Gay Pride march that I will not be attending, simply because I am not in Cape Town. But even if I were, would it have made a difference? This is a question I have heard often. Also, the endless critiques of Pride marches. Do we still need them? Absolutely.   I have personally seen shifts in people. I have also seen people regress and become absolute ignorant homophobes. We are here for both of them. The more that we are ourselves, the more others will have to accept that we are not going anywhere.

And yes, we. Accepting that you are part of a community is vital. You may be gay and not like that you are boxed into the same acronym as a trans-gendered individual, but you both are being discriminated against for something that is sexuality-linked and out of your control. It makes sense to me. Deal with your discomfort and realise that you are wasting the power of community. Stand up! And if you witness stupidity, stand up again.  And if you see more, keep standing up until you are tired. That’s why we encourage community. We need not only fighters, but supporters.

I have been hearing a lot of blanket statements lately. Let me remind you, there are no good stereotypes. Taking pride in how you are is acceptance of who you are, and your place with others – in this case, your gay self. This does not mean that you have to conform to any standard, even your own. I am so sick of pople looking down on femininity in men, and in so doing glorifying masculinities. There is no such thing as an ideal/perfect man/woman. Just be conscious of who you are and what you are doing. When someone says something offensive, stand up and call them out on it. I have not been entirely good on this, I have to admit. But how will the world change if we are not comfortable with fighting injustices, especially the small ones.

Pride is without a doubt a party. I have had the best times of my life at the last three marches. I do want the community to be more, as i wrote last year. But it also has its issues, and it is also a political statement. Who could forget Joburg Pride and what happened with the 1 in 9 campaign? If you can remember that, then we will get along just fine and I wont have to call you out on anything.

To end, a friend recently posted something on Facebook lamenting the situation in Uganda. It is pathetic and the violations of human rights being ignored around the world will come back to haunt us. Once again, people are paying a price for simply being. But we are also not entirely innocent (not that we are to blame), but how many of us have jumped on a bandwagon and been activists in isolation?  Are you only campaigning and fighting for your own cause? Will we move on to the next issue as soon as Uganda has died down and the people there have found a way to deal with what is happening? Do we picket the Nigerian embassy for a few weeks then realise that some other state has implemented their own homophobic laws?

This was my take on my friend’s anger regarding Uganda, and what “we can do about it”:

Well, to me it’d this belief that we are powerless because we might not have resources to make a difference. What about intention? Look at that horrible Kony campaign. That was completely self-serving and it seemed to be done with an end in sight, which is a little unrealistic. This Uganda issue is a huge deal too, as is our other favourite, Palestine. We must use the resources we have at our disposal, and not be despondent when they “don’t work”. Here comes the esotericism (I’m sorry), but what we do will emanate outwards [to others, and touch them in some way]. So how often do you laugh at a homophobic joke? When last did you rap along and say the n-word [in a song]? When last did you walk past an incident of injustice and not speak up? That’s the difference. The same can be applied to social media, and doing what we can with what we have. Be consistent, militant and conscious.

We are dealing with people and lives here. This is not a school project. If we are serious about changing the world, then it will start with us (you). Once we realise that, then it will be a brighter day.

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

Hey Homophobes. Nigeria, Uganda, good job.

Originally appeared on my News24 blog. I am, as are many other people, shocked and disgusted by the anti-gay legislation that was passed in Nigeria. Reading blogs, and especially the disheartening comments section, I am dumbfounded by how nonsensical they are, and how gay people are being used as scapegoats for political agendas. I wrote this blog post before the laws passed in Nigeria, but it still feels appropriate for what is happening there.

***

Hey homophobes, I have a question for you, why does your logic make sense, but mine doesn’t?

I wrote an open letter to gay people on my personal blog  this week, inspired by the LGBTIQA awareness week at my Uni, and then read a great piece by a fellow Voices24 comrade Kamela Mahlakwane, who, as a heterosexual male, questioned homophobia and affirming that it is not a choice. There is not all that much to add, but I thought I’d try anyway. A friend wanted to forward Kamela’s article to his mother hoping she would see the light. Unfortunately for him, the beliefs around homosexuality prevent him from being open with her.

I use gay as the collective term for LGBTIQA, as this acronym appears to be forgotten. It stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Intersex, Questioning and Asexual. You see, people forget that there are other parts of the acronym. Just as we are all meant to be equal in this country, the LGBTIQA community also strives for equality.

I do, however, want to focus on some of my favourite clichés, because like I asked, if you can do it, why can’t I?

My favourite is “Adam and Steve” – God did not make them. He made Adam and Eve, dammit. He also did not make Madam and Eve. One request that I always ask of homophobes is to at least be creative in their endeavours. We know this. It’s in the Bible, we’ve read it.

Biology also cannot be the be all and end all of an argument. I’ve always been surprised by the argument that homosexuality is wrong because two people of the same sex cannot reproduce and it’s biologically incorrect. Again, thank you for that gem of an observation. Gay people have been managing just fine. And if this argument is true, it must then disqualify women who partake in anal and oral sex, as well as people who cannot reproduce. This is not fair to them either, yet they are often left out of the discriminatory lashings.

Another point of consternation is the amount of time that homophobes spend on hating gays. Now I won’t delve into the internalised homosexual urges debate, because that would be too obvious. I often ask, to blank faces, are there not better things to do with your time? I can’t help but comment when I see ignorance and this happened when I asked someone on an online forum if there was not anything better to focus on? War, rape, corruption, racism come to mind, yet gay people are the subject of hate. I can’t help but think that this is a deflection of sorts, or a convenient scapegoat for repressed hate.

Just as women are often advised that no woman can steal your man, because he was not yours to steal in the first place, so it is true that someone cannot be made gay. There is no straight conversion therapy, believe it or not. If your partner left you to be with someone of the same sex, then it was not meant to be and they were most likely gay to begin with. This is a hard truth to accept and leads to pent-up anger within the individual who was dumped. Is it really fair to take out this anger on a community who probably would sympathise with you?

____

Black man, you’ve fought for liberation and freedom. Woman, you have the right to vote and freedom of movement. Even if you are a white, able bodied, heterosexual male, you have faced obstacles and opposition from others for being who you are. Maybe your father didn’t want you to play on a sports team, or your boss disapproved of a decision you took. The point is that, whether you believe that homosexuality is a choice or not, you get to change your lives and make better decisions. Gay people do not.

Homophobes do not realise that Pride marches and activist activities only happen as a reaction to hate. Think about it, if there were no people telling those gays how terrible they were and that they do not deserve rights, then they wouldn’t be “flaunting it” in your faces, as I’ve heard it. Awareness weeks, Pride marches and other such commemorations happen not because gay people enjoy being the centre of attention for that day, week or headline, but because gay people, even in the most liberal of cities or countries, are still targeted for being gay.

It does not get better for many people, so before you make the choice to hate, think about how going out of your way to do this adds to your life, and what you’re taking away from someone else.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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A Mass of Masculine

I had two very interesting conversations this past week. I was “interviewed” by a friend for her an assignment (probably anthropology or gender studies. I was not paying attention). The topic was masculinities.

She asked me about my own definition and my identity with regards to masculinity and my being a man. I said, to paraphrase, that it seems almost genderless, yet still pertinent in present-day society. I have come far, as have certain individuals (and not the majority of society, unfortunately) in that I don’t think of myself as this John Wayne/Captain America (or Shaka Zulu, maybe?) figure of manly virility in which the fairer sex is the immediate and obvious “other”. I am the fairer sex, and I am also Captain John Zulu. Because that is who we choose to be. The definition of it should be personal and the standards set by the individual. Unfortunately most people choose to be confined by these concepts of pink and blue in which they ignore the nuances which could exist in defining one’s self, which should be a continual process, according to me.

Well, what a woopsie mouthful!

*

So also this past weekend I helped a friend move house. I met his flatmate and we were speaking between packing boxes and moving things. Later she asks me “Are you gay?”

I said yes and her friend said something along the lines of “Are you blind?” (but not really, but you know what I mean) although I had a similar thought. I was surprised that she asked that, but did not wear it with a badge of pride like most gay men would. To many the fact that the homosexuality would not be immediately obvious is seen as a token, a prize which makes them better than others. I do not see it in this way. This brought to mind the interview I had, mentioned earlier and notions of masculinities.

In the gay community, there is a term known as “straight acting” which I’m sure I have mentioned somewhere on this blog. Why boys, why?

The very word “acting” just makes me shudder. I have never been accused of this because I think it’s ridiculous. Firstly, I don’t subscribe to any one idea of masculinity, or gayness. I am what I am (cue music) I dress how I want and what I feel is appropriate. I won’t walk into a club in takkies the same way I wouldn’t show up to move house in formal shoes.

So then is this really even an issue, or is it a case of bitter gays hating on each other? When a guy dances like a stripper in a club, but calls his “manlier” friends ‘bro’/’bra’ (like I do at times), is this acting too, or just adapting to the situation?

Why do we, in a community where it is ok (or at least should be) to embrace femininities, decide to instead go to either extreme where we completely shun that side or embrace it so fully that we forget the masculine?

Is this even worth discussing? Like I said earlier, gender and identity should (in a perfect world) be self-determined and not imposed upon the individual.

Phew! This is exhausting, right? Well, it’s all our faults.

We are way too conditioned to need a male/female situation. Where there is strength, there must be a weakling. Where there is provider, there must be a nurturer, and so on.

To flip the coin, in a hypothetical situation, if a tribe of women had to form, like an entire country of just women, I think that the same divisions would arise. Our brains and beings are so wired to have to live with these dualisms that we would immediately need tops/builders/security guards and other traditional male (or masculine) roles.

Solution: leave everyone alone and run your own race. How others choose to live their lives is their own problem. Often the problems we have with others are the problems we have with ourselves. Yes, that’s right, I said it!

JAW out!

 

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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