Thursday, August 18, 2011

EC Mirror Casts Poor Reflection

Some of you know that my city, Port Elizabeth, will be hosting its first ever Pride event this year - an event which I am proud to say I am involved in, be it in my own small way. ECGLA, an organization I am part of, stands behind the Nelson Mandela Bay Pride - which will take place on the 24th of September - with one or two smaller events on the side during the month leading up to the main event.

I have to say that so far I have been pleasantly surprised to note that there have been no negative encounters, nasty letters in the press, and no hate mail specific to the Pride event. In fact, we were even surprised and excited to learn how positive the public appears to be about Pride. Of course, there always has to be one bad apple in the basket, doesn't there?

Today I was forwarded an email reply to a request sent out to newspapers in our area to publicize an event which forms part of the run-up to Pride.

On Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 11:18 AM, Ec Mirror Admin wrote:

"As far as I understand it, Pride is an organization which promotes and sympathises with the cause of Homosexuals. However, practising homosexuals are acting directly acting against God’s Holy Word as laid down in the Bible. So although we are not judging practising homosexuals, (God is the only judge of all our actions) we wish to try and live in accordance with God’s principles.

Therefore we will not be promoting this kind of function at all.
Please do not send us anything to do with Pride.
The Hope Clinic is a completely different issue, however, and we have tried our best to promote this for you because we feel the Hope Clinic does a huge amount of good work in the community. Congratulations on the Hope Clinic and we wish you all the best.

Thank You
The Publisher
EC Mirror"

After reading this letter, I wrote what I felt to be an appropriate response.

Dear EC Mirror,

Your response to a request for publicity of an event in NMB Pride has reference.

Pride is an event which promotes tolerance, equality and celebrates the human and civil rights of people who have suffered and still suffer daily prejudice and persecution - both in general society, as well as in their family and school and work situations - resulting from a lack of education and human rights values.

The NMB Pride is an event geared towards raising awareness of our existance as a community and our human rights shortcomings, while also building good will between the Pink Community and the rest of the Metro by means of peaceful social interaction while raising funds for local charities and generating tourism income for local businesses.

These goals are made all the more difficult by individuals who eagerly apply prejudice and discrimination without any apparent thought or justifiable reason, and by contradiction, simply encourage animosity - which is counterproductive and hampers nation-building.

Shouldn't the "EC Mirror", as a public newspaper, be concerning itself with publishing news and items of public interest in the Eastern Cape - instead of policing or censoring these? How do personal religious values have any relevance to reporting on events in the real world? Is the EC Mirror a church newsletter, or a real newspaper?

The Pink Community is part of the public too - and as tax-paying and contributing citizens of South Africa and residents of the Eastern Cape, we do not appreciate being discriminated against or having our dignity and equal worth as human beings impugned. Are you aware that unfair discrimination is illegal? Have you ever heard of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, No. 4 of 2000?

If this is the attitude of your publication, your publication has been poorly named - because then the "EC Mirror" does not give a true reflection of events in the Eastern Cape, but rather only a cherry-picked, cracked and distorted view excluding the reality that we live here too - and that we might also be interested in being informed of social events in our area which concern us.

By your criticism and refusal to publicize the item forwarded to you, your claim to "not judge" is proven to be a blatant lie - add to that the very fact that your email was unnecessary. Why reply with offensive remarks when you could just have ignored the Pride email - or kept it to a request to not be sent future material about the NMB Pride? Surely that would have sufficed?

By your own words and uncharitability, you mark yourself as a poor example for professional journalism - and in my opinion, your hypocrisy and piety are an embarrassment to people of your faith who do good for others and try to make the world a better place, instead of breaking down those who do.

Your statement regarding Hope Clinic is nothing less than an insult - for you imply that one form of community service by the Pink Community is "good work" while community service which benefits our own community is not - based simply on who we are and who we choose to help, in relation to your prejudice. It is my understanding that you were quite willing to promote our efforts to support Hope Clinic in the past - considering that the Hope Clinic is where it is today primarily because of the efforts of those who helped build and support it, and got it off the ground - who are members of the Pink Community - you demonstrate a very skewed view indeed.

In closing, your remarks demonstrate to me clear opposition to the human rights values enshrined in the SA Constitution, as well as a lack of compassion, ubuntu, common decency and good manners. Consequently, we will no longer consider the services of EC Mirror, as a free community newspaper, sufficient, appropriate or befitting our worthy cause - and therefore we as NMB Pride and ECGLA formally disassociate ourselves from you.

Christina Engela

Eastern Cape Gay & Lesbian Association: Director

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Launch Of PFLAG In Port Elizabeth

Last night I attended the inaugural meeting of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays), a new group in Port Elizabeth. It's an initiative of one group I'm involved with, called ECGLA (Eastern Cape Gay & Lesbian Association) and the PE branch of Lifeline. This initiative is the culmination of the past year's co-operation between Lifeline PE and ECGLA on developing a community-focused counseling service for the Pink Community in Port Elizabeth - and I have to admit, it's a heart-warming experience when you start to see and feel the fruit of your labors!

Based on the American concept, PFLAG is a support group for the straight parents and friends (and colleagues) of the Pink Community, intended to provide information, counselling and education on the issues surrounding the pink people in their lives, and to break down the social stigma faced by pink folks and their relatives and friends. It's also heart-warming when people who are, for all intents and purposes, outside our community, reach out a welcoming hand and work to make things better.

So many gay, trans and intersex people face social prejudice and persecution in the open world - but when they face rejection or prejudice from their friends or family often out of concerned ignorance or misplaced fears, it hurts them even more so. Most of the time, parents and close associates of our community are distraught and shocked and are ill-equipped to deal with the news of someone close to them coming out - and especially in close-knit and conservative communities where sometimes sexuality or gender are scarcely talked about. Most of this group's focus will be aimed at supporting people in the middle of dealing with these issues.

Last night's meeting was more of an introduction and initial planning session. Riana Nel, who is a parent of a gay son, introduced herself as the leading figure of this new group. This dynamic and genuine lady is well-equipped and eager to help other parents come to terms with their children's sexual orientation or gender identity as it is a complex, difficult and deeply personal path well-known to her.

Last night the group also addressed the still noticeable cultural divide in our community, as some of the black folks present from one of ECGLA's local ethnic partner groups, Masipume, mentioned that some parents didn't want to come as they don't speak English or Afrikaans well, and felt out of place discussing what is still very much a taboo in their culture. Susan, the Director of Lifeline PE, an active partner in this new group, pointed out that counseling is currently available in multiple languages, including Xhosa, and that an effort would be made in future to provide presentations and information in local languages as well.

PFLAG is about love and family, and standing by the people you love. It's about more than just being tolerant and accepting. It's about being welcoming and showing the people you love that you support them, that even if you don't quite understand them or what makes them who they are, that you are making the effort to - that you care about what happens to them, and that you feel for them. It's about sticking to your child, standing by your parent, your brother, your sister, your friend, your colleague. It's about making the world a safer, warmer, brighter place for us all.

Future meetings of the support group will take place every 2nd and 4th Tuesday evening from 6 - 7pm. Considering the hard work and effort that has been put in, this was a very, very rewarding meeting indeed. I look forward to the next one!

For inquiries, ECGLA can be contacted here, and Lifeline PE here

Friday, March 26, 2010

About ECGLA

What is ECGLA?

The Eastern Cape Gay & Lesbian Association (ECGLA) represents all the letters in the LGBTIQ acronym, and not just gay and lesbian members of the pink community.

Vision:

The Eastern Cape Gay & Lesbian Association (ECGLA) is a socially proactive organization which advocates for the acceptance, understanding and equality of the LGBTI community in the EC province of South Africa.

Mission:

ECGLA seeks to promote and protect the rights of the LGBTI community by means of: Education, medical advice, legal support, counseling service, social programs and seeks to interact with all stakeholders in this regard.

Services Offered:
  • Counseling:
ECGLA currently provides a counseling service to the pink community on issues surrounding sexual orientation, gender identity, and dealing with discrimination and prejudice, as well as general non-crisis counseling. We have several qualified and experienced counselors on our team, as well as an agreement with Lifeline PE to train more in the near future.
  • Presentations and public speaking:
ECGLA is at this stage holding public information events for the benefit of the pink community on matters such as health and well-being, GLBTI civil rights, and other matters related to sexual orientation and gender identity. To inquire about inviting a representative of ECGLA to do a presentation at your event, please contact us.

Who Is ECGLA?

Committee:

President: Christina Engela
Vice President: Clive Henning
Secretary: Alan Edwards
Social Relations Officer: David Hessey
Health & Support Officer: Dr. Dion Nortje
Finance Officer: Michael Bendle
Legal Officer: Vacant

Sub-committees:

Advocacy 1:
Vacant
Advocacy 2:
Vacant
Advocacy 3:
Vacant

Social Relations 1: Robyn Ndzanze (Business Association)
Social Relations 2: Roger Peters (Business Association)
Social Relations 3: Kirsten Meyer

Health & Support 1: Alan Edwards (Counseling)
Health & Support 2: David Hessey (Counseling)
Health & Support 3: Robin Payne (Counseling)

Legal 1:
Vacant

Contact:
  • Physical Address: ECGLA has offices at:
123 Parliament Street,
Central,
Port Elizabeth
South Africa
(The office is not quite set up yet, we are still moving in!)

Send snailmail to: PO Box 28146, Sunridge Park, 6008
  • Telephone Numbers:
Office:
Fax:
President: 0827391602
Vice President: 0083394142

To make appointments for counseling: 0727866000

Donations:

Please make donations out to:

ECGLA
ABSA Bank Newton Park
Cheque Account
Ac
. Number 4073815107
NPO Number: 070-906 NPO