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Thursday, 4 March 2010

South Africa: Staging a black gay challenge

Source: The Times - Feb 25

By Gabisile Ndebele

Cain and Abel, which is to be staged at Hillbrow's Windybrow theatre, deals with the prejudice gay and bisexual black people confront daily.

Playwright Thapelo Motloung's play concerns a church minister who discovers that his son is gay, but is unsure of how to deal with the issue as church members are reluctant to accept homosexuality.

"The idea for the play came after I saw a story about lesbians being raped by men who were convinced they could change them into being 'women' if they did that," he said.

"This topic is long overdue for discussion. These are people who are part of our society and they exist. How long are we going to act like they are not human?"

Motloung said he chose the scenario of a pastor's son "because we know that some of our churches have not yet accepted that gay people are there".

South African soapies like SABC1's Generations and eTV's Rhythm City have also dealt with the issue. But some people don't think this exposure has been beneficial.

Socialite Iko Mash said that when heterosexual TV viewers watch scenes of men kissing, they perceive gay people as oddities rather than ordinary community members.

"It might not be the right time for this play to be out because we already have the soapies playing this issue to death. How is that play going to be different from what these soapies have shown us?" he said.

"I think perhaps they need to use gay actors. That way it would be more effective to the viewers. These actors would bring some realism to the performance."

However, another high-profile gay man, 3Sum singer Amstel, welcomed the play, saying he was "unhappy with the way society was still treating the gay people".

"The soapies are a start in exploring this topic, but I think there should be more and more of these plays to educate people on what being gay is about.

"It's just a sexual preference. I pay taxes and contribute to the economy just like everybody else," he said.

"It hurts me to know that there are people out there that still violate gay people or treat them differently. Thanks to Thapelo, this play might change that for us.

"People need to realise that we are human too and we are here to stay," Amstel said.
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