The need to hold celebrities accountable for their utterances
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The South African LGBTQI+ community is facing many challenges with regards to hate crimes and murders.
For several weeks the queer community has been protesting and mourning the senseless deaths of Sphamandla Khoza, Andile Ntuthela, Lonwabo Jack and many others.
Queerphobia in the country is at an all time high and it is resulting in murders purely based on someone’s gender identity and sexual orientation.
Many queer voices have been speaking out not only against the hate crimes but also regarding the discourse on platforms such as TV, radio, podcasts and social media about how homophobic and transphobic comments from cisgender heterosexual individuals are at the root of these crimes.
Recently, Thuso Mbedu ended up in hot water after she thanked podcaster, MacGyver ’MacG’ Mukwevho for shouting her out on his podcast along with congratulating him on the strides he’s making with Podcast and Chill with MacG.
The podcaster and former radio shock jock, has been called out for being a homophobe, transphobe and a misogynist multiple times.
This happened after the fallout from an episode where MacG along with his co-hosts spewed dangerous transphobic comments.
His fans were quick to tell the LGBTQI+ community that we are being “sensitive”, “we must educate him”, “you can’t cancel someone for a difference of opinion” and other statements to gaslight the community.
And that’s the issue we constantly have with discourse regarding queerphobia and the famous people who don’t see why their utterances can be so dangerous.
The LGBTQI+ community constantly has to defend, explain and justify their existence to a people that seemingly don’t listen nor care about educating themselves. They are even uninterested to take the onus on themselves to go and do the work of learning more about the community.
Thuso’s tweet might seem innocent to someone that fits into the box of heteronormativity.
However, by her co-signing MacG, she also co-signed his transphobia, homophobia and misogyny.
And while it is plausible that she was unaware of his problematic views, several people on Twitter told her that the tweet wasn’t a good look along with screenshots and links to the many stories regarding MacG’s known transphobic, homophobic and misogynistic remarks.
However, Thuso decided to ignore everyone alerting her about how problematic this was and it was only after she reached out to someone she “trusts” that she decided to delete the post.
It was heartbreaking to also see her being flippant and also gaslighting queer individuals who were trying to help her avoid a potential scandal ahead of her Hollywood debut with “The Underground Railroad”.
For the most part, the online LGBTQI+ community has been very supportive of her making waves in Hollywood. Therefore, no one was praying on her downfall or trying to “cancel” her. We were merely trying to prevent an unnecessary scandal by association.
LGBTQI+ rights are human rights
This particular problem showed that there is a lack of empathy from celebrities when it comes to rights violations that don’t affect them.
We saw it last year with the Black Lives Matter protests and the anti-Asian outrage earlier this year.
The false closeness that public figures have tried to cultivate in the age of social media, has been truly shown how disingenuous they can be and will only do things if it helps their image.
It makes us question why, if these celebrities really cared about easing the suffering of everyone, they continue to make choices that will contribute to the attack on queer bodies.
And yet when it comes to other human rights issues, like racism, everyone is always up in arms and yet they find excuses to be quiet when it has to do with the queer rights.
Hence, the day after the fallout from the Thuso matter when Mayihlome Tshwete shared about a racist incident that happened at Northriding Secondary School, the LGBTQIA+ community decided to troll and be satirical with the matter.
This was to prove how absurd is it to tell a marginalised group that their feelings and outrage is invalid. And the reaction from those who missed the point was both hilarious and revealing.
When it comes to racism there is no discourse to be had. Everyone gets that it is wrong.
No one that is also part of the marginalised community is telling a black person/POC to educate a white person or that racist views are just a matter of opinion.
But when it comes to homophobia/transphobia we have to be lecturers even though information is free and everyone has all the information at their disposal.
The LGBTIQA+ community is tired. All we’ve been doing these last couple of weeks is mourn queer bodies and educate people.
Our existence isn’t up for debate, being queer is not a “lifestyle”, it is not a choice.
Our queerness is who we are and at the bare minimum, we deserve to be treated with respect or just left alone.