Homophobia

Shinka: How Anime’s Helping Along Evolution

The anime world is one that provides solace, entertainment, and enjoyment to millions of people around the globe.  To many, it’s a weird subculture that reveals just how committed humans can be to fictional realms and characters. What they tend to overlook however, is that like literature, sitcoms, movies, etc., it provides yet another escape from reality, if only for half an hour (the average length of most anime episodes). You get to see just about anything in anime (and hentai: anime porn), and as a person that has seen about 400 anime series/movies (I know, my life is awesome), I much prefer it to the largely depressing, discriminatory, and all around unsavory reality that we live in.

 

Shinka 1

 

Now I could go on about how amazing anime is, and how everyone on Earth should watch it, but a particular notion about anime viewers was drawn to my attention: we are hardly ever sexist, homophobic, trans-phobic, or really discriminatory at all. I say this based upon the members of the anime community that I interact with, and while I have interacted with quite a lot, I can hardly speak for every anime watcher out there. What I will say is that if you do watch heavy amounts of anime, your chances of remaining averse to people that society loves to deem “abnormal” is going to be drastically reduced.

 

Why?

 

The first word that comes to mind is ‘androgyny’. The Japanese, and by extension, anime, is very androgynous in not just their dressing, but their character aesthetic design as well, and the behaviors of said characters.

 

 Shinka 2

This is Haku. He’s a guy. He’s hot. Admit it. 

 

We become attracted to the characters we admire on television, and anime is no different in that regard. I remember the first time I saw some of my friends drooling over anime girls, I was so confused. Like, the fuck? Next thing I know I find myself in love with Haruko Haruhara from Fooly Cooly. It just kind of hits you. But I digress.

 

It’s immensely difficult to maintain sexist views when you find yourself drawn to males/females that you initially thought were the opposite gender. You start subconsciously breaking down those barriers you had put up against them. If you find yourself attracted to an anime guy that you thought looked like a girl, you’re really just one step away from being attracted to males in real life that have the same attributes. Can you really be homophobic then?

Shinka

 

What’s even more fascinating is how these characters behave. Gender roles still exist in anime, but to a far lesser degree than in other forms of entertainment. Men cook, women are frequently breadwinners (it’s REALLY interesting to note that fatherless homes are a lot more frequent in anime than motherless ones, but that’s another discussion entirely), male friends are very openly comfortable with each other… it’s really ideal. So when you watch a lot of this happen, one has to wonder why on earth we so strictly adhere to those roles in reality, when they seem so easily negligible in anime.

 

Women are stronger than men.

 

Shinka 3

 

Scenario: You’re a sixteen year old boy, living a boring life, and nothing exciting ever happens in your town

 

PLOT TWIST: a magical girl bursts through your ceiling, fighting a creature from a different dimension which she obliterates with ease, and you fall in love at first sight with this super strong girl that’s going to change your life forever and make you her bitch.

 

I just described the introductions of probably hundreds of different anime.

 

To be fair, I’m not entirely sure that the roots of female power in anime are righteously rooted. It seems to be more of a fetishizing of the powerful girl, but it’s one that has worked out positively, in my opinion. If you’re an archaic misogynist you do not have a place in anime. Female characters are just as, if not more, popular than their male counterparts. We fucking love them. They wreck shit. They make men do dumb shit for them. They become student council presidents and take control of their entire school (I’m looking at you, Kill la Kill). There is just such an overwhelming amount of anime focusing on female empowerment, from the magical girl variants to the bad ass action ones that you’re just better off learning to love them as much as you should.

 

Cross Dressing/Futanari

 

There is a ton of anime content centralizing around cross dressing and transgender characters. Unfortunately, the latter is still purely restricted to hentai, which leads me to believe there is a large amount of aforementioned fetishizing involved, but I do hope it turns out useful in destroying the very negative stigmas usually associated with trans people. I’m waiting for an anime to actually feature an openly transgender main character, so I can advertise the hell out of it.

 

Cross dressing, however, has been very frequent in anime for many years now. As if the androgynous dressing wasn’t enough already, many anime feature plots where a man/woman is in a scenario where they are either forced to dress as the opposing gender, or they simply enjoy doing so. Now in these anime the initial reaction is always one of disgust, which mirrors society quite aptly. But the beautiful thing is, that these anime use their plot devices to make the cross dresser just as accepted as any other member of the anime.

 

 Shinka 4

Ranma 1/2, one of the most popular comedy/action anime ever released, features a protagonist that changes between a male and a female.

The majority of these anime take place in school settings, where, say, a boy/girl “accidentally” gets into an all-boys/girls school, and is ergo forced to dress as a boy/girl to not get caught (it wouldn’t be anime if they did the sensible thing and just transferred schools, now would it?) They almost always play out the same way: guy/girl starts cross dressing, and is exposed to the various stigmas members of that gender face, which changes their opinion of said gender, and they slowly start enjoying the cross dressing. The climax occurs when the class/school find out about the cross dresser, and they are usually subjected to initial bullying. In the resolution though, the classmates/school members eventually realize they were all changed by the cross dresser(s), and accept that they are just as normal as anyone else.

 

I think that the effect that anime has on breaking down these discriminatory notions is much needed. The messages conveyed of acceptable differential norms are ones that needs to be widespread in our world, in our cultures, and become rooted in our humanity. We cannot continue being so wary of change and difference, and continue to subject the people that are different to negative labels.

 

I guess what I’m trying to say is, go watch some anime and become a better person.

 

-Charles

 

**Charles says “Coming up with bios is difficult” so there’s that.

Find him on Twitter or read his work here.

And Still I Rise: The Queer Version

After reading this.

And a heated Twitter rant here.

Came the following:

And Still I Rise: The Queer Version

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like sluts, I fuck.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got Beyonce chilling in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like Rihanna gets high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries?

Are you into BDSM?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Are you seeking a sub?

Don’t you take it awful hard,

‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got Gaga sashaying in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

You may try to read me,

But still, like Lindsay Lohan, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got the fountain of Youth at the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise I’m a vast ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling

Leyomi dropping and sashaying,

I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise

So don’t be a bitch, dear

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the closeted and queer.

I rise

I rise

I rise

 queer

I’m disappointed.

I’m ashamed.

And I can’t say I’m shocked but sometimes, I still marvel at society’s ignorance.

This is one of those times.

“It’s the foreigners, the homosexuals, the feminists and the satanists”

My people say the most ignorant things without even noticing it. I’m usually the only one who gets offended when certain comments are dropped in conversation because certain stereotypes have become the norm to mention. They are regarded as a universal truth and I find myself dumbfounded when I’m confronted with people who honestly believe what they think of the next race,tribe,gender is the Gospel. 

While visiting someone recently we struck up a conversation about how men tend to feel completely free at home, leaving the gate open while walking around at the back of the house, while a woman would make sure every door in the house is locked, lock herself in her room and spend the whole night on high alert. He responded “Ee..akere a random Zimbo guy might walk in and rape her.” To which I asked, why would he have to be Zimbabwean? 

Understand that this happens all the time in Botswana. All the damn time. Any Motswana who tells you otherwise is a liar. A lot of Batswana are convinced  those from our neighboring country are beneath us. They sneer at them in combis, they’re rude to them in Tswana, a language not all can understand. They judge them, they verbally abuse them and they are downright xenophobic.

Will they ever admit it when you call them out on it? Never. They never even have an excuse.

See, they forget that they came here for work because times were tough in Zim. That most of the time when you see them, they’re working. Most of them don’t have the luxury of being a layabout as my people like to refer to them as. Some say they’re dirty, without considering that they work for most of the day as plumbers, electricians, contractors..Where would you expect them to get the time to be as clean as you’d like them to be? 

The majority of Zimbabwean women I know have stories reminiscent of those I imagine were in The Help. They’re raped by the men of the households they work at and can’t leave because they need the job. I knew a Lady who wasn’t allowed to eat anything but bread and was made to sleep on a floor in the garage with dogs. The family she worked for were seemingly morally correct, humane, progressive thinkers, and yet this is how they treated someone who they regarded as “different”.

At my cousin’s graduation party a few years ago, one of my aunts [those who you don’t really know how you’re related to but, whatever] said to my cousin, who’s the last born in his family, during her speech “Please delay moving out because we don’t want your parents to have to rent out the back to some Zimbabweans.” My two uncles, who’re from Uganda, and myself, were the only ones who flinched. I remember thinking “How can she be so old yet so dumb?” and getting up mid speech and leaving.

Do you understand how you look? Forget that though. Do you understand what you are? Listen. Insert that profound saying about logs, twigs and eyes here.

You guys are spoiled and with a false sense of importance and you know it even if you’ll never say it. Your kids are the ones drunk driving and killing people. They’re the ones  having kids left, right and center for the sake of hosting baby showers. The failure rates at our schools are disgusting. Our water, electricity and food ain’t shit and you still have the confidence to go on and look down upon others? Y’all though.

But no, it isn’t just about the xenophobia here.

It’s comments like “The gays are the reasons I can’t watch TV anymore. They’re everywhere.” and “Kids are failing at school because they’re turning gay”. 

“The feminists that are sprouting up everywhere are the reason why real men are raping. They must be put in their place.” 

“I can’t love nor respect a woman who doesn’t know that her place is beneath me. I’ll beat her into submission.”

“Nna mme ga ise ke mmone a itira monna. Ke tlebe ke batlang mo mosading oo sa itseng gore ke mosadi? Banyana ba Gaborone tlhe lea i’classa. Dilo tse di rata dilo.”

And the “Satanist” stamp that’s thrown around.. People are so silly, my goodness.  It doesn’t occur to them that in the event that someone even is Satanist, it’s a religion as is yours. But no, you’d rather use your internet connection to make an apple appear to be an orange rather than Google the characteristics of oranges wouldn’t you?

I had an experience a while ago whereby my ex attempted to pray for me and accused me of trying to steal his Soul because I went to his house wearing all black. Let me repeat that: Because I was wearing all black.

The ignorance defeats me. I cannot count the number of times I hear someone speak on a a taxi and all I can think is “Why are you like this? And aren’t you ashamed? Don’t you want to know better? Why is this The End for you?”

Ignorance is not bliss. The idiots annoy the shit out of the rest of us who’re trying to know and do better. 

I’m saying, what you’ve been taught is not what is. Is that hard for you to fathom?

I’m saying, you need to read. Learn about the World. Learn about anything and everything.

And lastly, think. Just bloody think.

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Getting Bi

“I don’t understand bisexual people. They’re greedy. Unnatural too. How can you be attracted to both sexes? No. It’s just wrong.”

Every morning I wake up and wish people wouldn’t speak unless they had something worth listening to to say. Every morning I realize people cling on to their ignorance with all they have.

Is it wrong for me to think there’s a slight case of homophobia coming from those who are against bisexual people? Because the issue isn’t that you’re a woman attracted to men, it’s that you’re a woman attracted to men, AND women, or vice versa in the case of bisexual males. 

Personally I’ve always known I was attracted to both sexes. It’s never been taboo to me because growing up I just was, what society told me was right/wrong only really became a factor later on in life and even then, as I reached my teens, I found myself quite resistant to having my desires  placed in a box by people I considered bland.

As I’ve grown I’ve encountered all kinds of people. The “You can’t be bisexual, you’re Black, that’s a White thing” people. The “You probably just want an excuse to be a whore” people.  The “Oh..That’s dope. Call your other friends who’re like you and let’s have a threesome” men, there’s never a shortage of those. And mostly the “No, you’re confused. You just need the right man” people. 

How hard is it to understand that as you love a man, another man loves another man? As you love a woman, another woman loves another woman? What you see in their sex, another of the same sex does too. What is so mind blowing about affection? What about attraction can’t be explained?

I’ve found that it’s harder to be a bisexual male than a female though.  Bisexual females are considered freaks, nymphs. Very few people have an issue with them. Due to the fact that masculinity is basically placed next to Godliness by most people, the moment a male even exhibits any sign of comfort with his desires/habits other men are quick to label him effeminate, and bash him because of his “bitch like” behaviour. I mean, we’re the generation that decided we could determine a person’s sexual orientation by what colour shoes he wears. 

I have very few straight friends. Most of them are either bisexual, gay or lesbian. It’s not that I went and handpicked them based on their sexual orientation, it’s just that they have a better understanding of things, tolerance, they are way more open minded than a lot of the straight people I know and when it comes to the growth process, I’d prefer to have people around me who will understand and reassure when it’s necessary rather than those who will tell me how I “should” be.

I had someone at some point come to me and tell me “You have too many gay friends” to which I responded “You have too many straight friends.” He was rather hostile to all the people I brought around and I figured out why but waited for him to tell me. Eventually he got drunk and tearfully told me he was bisexual, although his attraction to males was stronger than his attraction to females, but was forced to act straight because he feared rejection from his friends, family and fan base [He’s a rapper]. I understood why and I promise you after we discussed it and he realized I was rather uninterested in judging him for the man he is, he was, and still is, noticeably happier. 

I wish a lot of people understood from an early age that most people are simpletons. They do not think because they think it’s not their place to. They do not accept what’s new unless everyone else does and nobody’s ever willing to be the pioneer when they know they will face resistance. People are quick to live by a book written thousands of years ago but will never look into the history of those who actually LIVED thousands of years ago. They don’t want to believe homosexuality predates their religious doctrines. That there were other civilizations other than the ones they write about. It’s too much for them to consider.

There’s nothing unnatural about how you are. Ignorance is unnatural as far as I’m concerned. There is no reason to feel shame for who you are. None. There is no deity who will detest you for being as you are if you believe you’re it’s creation and were made in it’s image. There is no “tolerant, loving” religion that will not let you be. There is nothing new nor different nor unacceptable about you. 

As the saying goes though “there’s nothing new under the sun”. We should accept that there will always be people who will not be willing to let others live as they please, even if it harms no one. There will always be those who will refuse logic and want to live as they’ve been told to. But they have nothing to do with you. Be. Just be. As I like to say, shame is for the ugly. 

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Between Legs and Hearts

I wrote the following piece a while ago and it was previously published on a friend’s blog, KlarOnyx , but I felt the need to bring it here as it is quite personal for me. If you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you enjoy it.

“..And I believe that marriage isn’t between a man and woman, but between Love and Love.”

–Frank Ocean
The average Black child is raised in a Christian household. Men are bread winners, providers, protectors, to those lucky enough to have fathers. Mothers are obedient care givers and children, well they try their level best to not be a disgrace, to not provide any reason for the neighbors to cast eyes in the family’s direction. For the most part we play our parts well.
Except during our teenage years when we discover freedom of speech and the fact that we have rights and once the pubic hair appears and the breasts bloom, we think we’re ready to take on the world.  We learn ourselves.  We learn of other people.  We discover the differences and similarities between us. We discover love, pain, the weight of choices and the terror and beauty of change.
Growing up, I never thought of Love as caged, or controlled.  People loved each other. That’s all I knew.  I was never concerned with whether it was a man loving woman or a woman loving another woman. If it pleased them, I could see no reason why they shouldn’t do it.  I was raised in a household with both parents. The majority of relationships around me were heterosexual, but it was never something I paid any real attention to.
I don’t know when I began to acknowledge homosexuality. The earliest memory I have connected to it was of my cousin, who was a zealous Christian, explaining to me that Sodom and Gommorah were burnt down because people did “bad things” there. Ever the inquisitive  creature, I pestered her til she told me that Men laid with men as they did women. I wasn’t horrified. I wasn’t in the least bit concerned. I did not see the “evil” in their type of affection.
Homosexuality is illegal in most countries in Africa, approximately 38. Many claim it is “unnatural”,”UnAfrican”, some go the extent as to claim it’s “Evil.” When this issue was brought up the other day on Twitter, Tumi Molekane coolly asked someone who shared these sentiments “Were you born straight?”
I have a few issues. First of all, I don’t understand why Love has to be regulated. Why we feel the need to have a say in what happens between consenting adults, something that has nothing to do with us, Love that hurts nobody is beyond me.  I’ve decided it could be because people already subconsciously feel powerless in society as is. They cannot live as they please, therefore looking down upon and judging others, those who do, is the next best thing. Also, divide and conquer works wonders. It would be easier for Governments to do as they please while we’re still busy caring about who’s sleeping with and loving who.
I understand that as people tend to fear what we don’t understand and hate may stem from that fear. The majority of people around are straight, and we respect that, but left to their own devices with no judgement, would they be? Nobody really knows why we’re straight as nobody knows why some are gay. Being straight serves a purpose when it comes to procreation, yes, but other than that, what is there? I am not religious, therefore quoting the Bible to me when it comes to such matters is non sensical. First of all, Christianity is a foreign doctrine, brought to us by the same people who stole our land, spiritually broke our forefathers and raped their women. Let’s be logical for a bit. If you were seeking to take something from someone, wouldn’t it be easier to tell them the Man In The Sky wants him to NOT seek revenge and turn the other cheek? That he wants us to suffer on Earth? You’d know he wouldn’t react to whatever you did to him from there. But anyway, that’s neither here nor there. My point is, telling me things  like “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” renders you an Idiot in my eyes. The Bible has also been used  in arguments to make slavery, racism and abuse of women seem acceptable. So miss me with that.
In life, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting all kinds of people. Straight people. Gay people. Bisexual people. Closeted homosexuals. And even a few Asexual people. I’ve judged them all based on their character as people. I thankfully know that I have no right to call another “disgusting.” In my books, if you are not purposefully harming anyone, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll have an issue with you. I have also met homophobic people, heard all their arguments, met men who hate homosexuals yet love lesbians, lesbians who hate straight men and people who just want to be loved regardless of who provides the affection.
Straight people are blind to how privileged they are in Society. They get to marry, they get to love freely, they get to BE, to exist as they please for the most part.  No one questions this. No one gives them awkward side glances, no one calls them names or judges them. They have not lost friends due to their sexual orientation, they do not live with a constant fear of being a victim to hate crimes. They are not ignored by their relatives. NOBODY makes them feel ASHAMED for being as they are. No one.
I know a man. He adores me. I cannot put in words how secure I feel in his adoration. He is my pillar of strength, my teacher in Life, a constant companion. He has seen me at my lowest in Life, and loved the pain and doubt away. He has shared my bed, my tears, my food, my Life. He is gay and has been for all his life. And I love him with all that I am. Because I have not closed my mind to certain things, I have received the purest form of love there is. Selfless love. I have watched boys come and go in my Life. Many at some point I would’ve died for. But He is the one I would gladly live for. And do. Many people will never know what I’m talking about.
I can only try to explain to you what it’s like to love somebody society chooses not to. I have seem him broken down over comments from people who have no idea what his name even is. I have seen his fear and heard the comments. Seen the looks. Felt the judgement. He moved away and there were nights when I couldn’t sleep because he’d gone out and I was afraid for his life. We have loved each other fiercely, through all this and more. And I have stated many a time that I would marry him, and remain happy forever, than be with someone who doesn’t appreciate me. I have not bought into the idea that marriage should be a chore as it seems to be for most, excuse me.
I understand  the intricacies of the human heart too well to believe being gay is a sin, or wrong. I believe in Love too much for me to look upon forms of it as disgraceful.
With that having been said, I have met a Woman. And my heart adores her. I have not questioned my Heart, I have felt, willingly. Because I have never been one to put titles on myself and live by them. I feel no need to. I Love, and whether it be a man or woman is irrelevant to me. Has it been easy to accept this? For me, yes. I am happy. Others..? Not so much. I find men look upon love between two women as something sexual and not emotional, not spiritual. I guess they think the same of gay men too. It’s easier to assume homosexuality is just..sexual. And I think, straight people think so because they have no idea what any other type of love other than Eros [Erotic] love feels like. I also think this is a damn shame.
I did not write this in order to change the world. It probably won’t. People don’t read nor feel anymore. I just give you my thoughts and feelings and hope.. Hope that maybe you know you might be wrong. Hope you might change the way you think. Hope you might know love is more than anything we could ever understand.
In the words of Frank Ocean yet again, “..I’m starting to think we’re alot alike. Human Beings spinning on Blackness. All wanting to be seen, heard, paid attention to.”