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Mapping Our Histories: A Visual History of Black Lesbians in Post-Apartheid South Africa by Zanele Muholi “Without a visual identity we have no community, no support network, no movement. Making ourselves visible is a continual process.” Joan E Brien (1983)

Figure 1: Being, Apinda Mpako and Ayanda Magudulela, Parktown, Johannesburg (2007)

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Index

1. Abstract

2. Introduction 3. South African Queer History: a critical reflection 4. Visual Activism projects 4.1 Hate crimes 4.2 HIV/AIDS pandemic 4.3 Portraits: Faces & Phases 4.4 Being 4.5 Massa & Mina(h) 5. Methodology 6. Disseminating projects 7. Reflections 8. Conclusions 9. References Acknowledgments

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Abstract
This paper is both a textual and a visual analysis of the making/mapping/ preserving of radical black lesbian visual history in post-Apartheid South Africa. Using my own works of photography, I explore how visual activism can be employed by socially, culturally and economically marginalized women as a site of resistance to not only return the gaze of our colonizers, but to develop what bell hooks has called a ‗critical gaze‘ into heteropatriarchal constructions of black women‘s bodies and their sexualities. With thematic projects evoked by women‘s own experiences, I partly address the epidemic of hate crimes that has escalated in the past few years, claiming many black lesbian lives in the townships. I argue that queerphobia and hate crimes have further silenced and sanctioned our voices. I reflect on such issues through my previous works entitled Only Half the Picture (20032005) and ongoing visual explorations like the Being series (2007), Faces & Phases (2007) and Massa & Mina(h)(2008). I also explore how I have moved from being a lesbian and human rights activist to becoming a visual activist and artist, tracing how my work has developed. Much of this is about reflecting on my work over the past 6 years, and taking stock of the many complexities of being both an insider and an outsider.

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Introduction In the late 1980s and early1990s, as South African was in the height of its historic anti-Apartheid struggle against white minority rule, the country saw the emergence of not only a lesbian, gay, bi, transgender/transsexual (LGBT) movement, but a national queer literature and cinema chronicling the experiences of LGBT peoples. However, despite the fact that these materials featured a few prominent black lesbian voices, there was a noticeable lack of visual representation within South Africa of my community, and the many queer women who existed and contributed to our LGBT struggles for rights and freedoms. When black lesbians did have their stories recorded and their lives related through interviews, it was done and written about by outsiders of the community— heterosexuals and/or queers from overseas. In those days, we could not find visual or textual works produced from within the black lesbian community itself. The primary reason for this being our lack of access to education, employment, safe housing, supportive queer structures, and financial resources—the majority of us continue to live in the economically and spatially marginalized townships that were created during the Apartheid era, and which are many miles from the urban centers that house LGBT organizations. Having been a research subject myself, informing many outside ―experts‖ about our existence, lives, and realities, I began to wonder in 2001 how I could turn myself and my community from being objectified to become the producers of our own histories, knowledges, and subjectivities. I was angry for having been used for the gaze of others, and instead wanted to us to do for ourselves. I envisioned us speaking to each other using visuals because anyone can look and have thoughts about a photograph or a film, even if they are illiterate. I wished for us to stare back as black lesbian-identified women, to

mountain ranges and valleys. but crisscrosses and intersects with our race. class. audio material. The following paper explores the lives and visual histories of black lesbian women in post-Apartheid South Africa. our black lesbian history is not linear. sexuality. and on working to reduce the dearth of black lesbian visual histories. in the archives. and transphobic hate crimes are the consequences of this past and are felt . lesbian. and videos that mark the historical and present existences of same gender loving women and lesbian women within black South African culture and society. photographs. rivers. and second. in order for them/us/me to see our likenesses. and representation in the archives.5 resist and challenge the idea that our bodies can be researched. and colonial histories. displayed for heterosexual and western consumption. I have named my project Mapping Our Histories: A visual history of black lesbians in post-Apartheid South Africa for two reasons: first. understood. it is to undo our black lesbian underexposure and invisibility. The project aims to interrogate the photographic representation of identity within the broader framework of identity formation in South Africa. because we do not yet have such a history in the form of representation. Present day queer. My own understanding of a visual history includes all forms of representation through different productions of portraits. My objective was to produce work for the very same subjects I would capture. and beyond. and to resist the censorship and control that still exists over our bodies in South Africa due to the intersection of our colonial and Apartheid past. cities. art works. It focuses on the complexities of our black lesbian identities. If there is one purpose to my work. and for the future generations to have a point of reference in our collective memories. films. gender. because like the drawing of a road map full of roads. narratives. documentaries.

artist and insider within the black lesbian community of South Africa. community. intimacy and relationships still causes our spirits and bodies to be violated and raped. I will do a brief critical overview of our queer and lesbian history in South Africa in order to situate my work. It is a risky and highly political act of resistance because the social pathologization of black and African lesbian desire. First. Third.6 deeply by us all. researcher. participant. Fourth. Ensuring that our collective visual narratives and imageries as black lesbians—especially those of us who come from marginalized spaces—form part of South Africa‘s national collective memory is a form of resistance. I discuss dissemination and distribution strategies. and I agree strongly with Joan E. I will reflect on the complexities of my roles as an activist. created by the lesbian feminist writer and activist Joan Nestle. Fifth. one that is modeled after the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York City. Brien that without a visual identity we are left without support. Second. I /we will not be silent because it is the lives of our people that form our communities of lesbians. As such. I will contextualize my work and the meaning of visual activism. creating visual space for our histories within the South African nation building project itself. and within the archival system of the nation. My own long term vision as a visual and lesbian rights activist is to work towards creating a black lesbian archive in South Africa. and a movement. The questions I have been guided by are: Why do we need a black lesbian visual history? Who is it going to feature and whom is it going to serve? Who is the decision maker about what this history will look like? Where and how is it going to be accessed? . is significant. I will discuss and reflect on my methodological approaches to research and visual activism. The paper is divided into 5 main parts.

political. gendered. Historically. and heterosexual privileges. and highlight some of the brave warrior women who have in reality paved the way for our future generations of lesbians and transmen to live a life free of violent homophobia. and sexism. racialized and heterosexualized patriarchies. we continue to live on the margins of society. and many have died in the anti-apartheid struggle. classed. As black women. still struggling to claim our sexual citizenship. It will also provide an analysis of why black lesbian images and voices continue to be absent within the lesbian. misogyny. racism. our lesbian visibility and voices continue to remain on the margins. This section paper of the paper will provide a brief historical synopsis of queer politics in South Africa since the late 1980s/early 1990s when black gays and lesbians began to organize politically for their rights. gay. education. For the majority of black lesbians and transmen. post-Apartheid South African society is still burdened by unequal power relations based on intersecting and hierarchical constructions of racialized. either of gender and homophobic-based . lesbians. we lack the necessary access to economic. and to the communities where we live and work. and socio-cultural resources to combat this silencing of our histories and contributions. and Black nationalism. the everyday lived experience of black majority rule and democracy is still dominated by violent forms of homophobia. and safety in the public sphere. intersex people (LGBTI) and women‘s movements. For decades black lesbians have been contributing to the history of South Africa. transgender. visibility. healthcare.7 South African Queer History: a critical reflection Despite the fall of political Apartheid in 1994. due to the intersecting legacies of both external and internal colonialisms. and the lack of access to adequate and affordable housing. and jobs. However. and transmen. bisexual.

gay white men overwhelmingly dominated these movements. our identities and lives continue to remain under-documented and under-theorized as they are prescribed and conceptualized not by us. but it is often also very dangerous. For example. authors Ruth Morgan and Saskia Wieringa state that ―the silence in which most African women in same-sex relations live their lives causes their marginalization from society. it was not until after 1994 that texts began to emerge within the academy on our existence and lives. organizing. but by those outside our communities.‖ (Morgan and Wieringa 2005: 19) Silence isolates us at the same time that it protects us. or of HIV/AIDS without realizing the dream of being recognized as valuable members of our communities.8 violence. Lesbian Men and Ancestral Wives (2006). we are beginning to speak. and nation. and fight the discriminatory laws and socio-cultural codes of our country. places of work.2 While texts are beginning to include us today. Coming out of the closet may offer the tenuous comfort of the support of an embattled group of LGBTI activists. activists and scholars/researchers tended to focus on the emergence of the political gay and lesbian movement and on legal battles to be fought by gays and lesbians who were seeking inclusion in the shaping of democracy during the transition period between 1990 and 1994 when democratic elections were officially held in South Africa for the first time. it is a political consciousness that we do not have a .3 In their introduction to Tommy Boys. and if scholars did write about race. Yet as Morgan and Wieringa document. I need to underscore that naming ourselves and ‗being‘ is more than a fashion statement or a research topic. families. Rather. Prior to 1994. They may lose whatever support their families afforded them and may be evicted from their homes. However. it was on the racialized/black gay male experience that they focused.

the white minority government controlled by the National Party tightly regulated and racialized sexuality by imposing laws criminalizing . it can neither be appreciated nor be denounced which amounts to non-existence). The power of naming means to put something into existence. Hillbrow. 4 (Schuhman. and where whiteness and European ways are still valued more than blackness and Africanness. 2008:38) Figure 2: Julia and “Mandoza” Hokwana. Lakeside.9 choice about. Johannesburg (2007) Figure 3: Musa Ngubane and Mabongi Ndlovu. As long as it is not named and there is no concept of it. Naming and ‗being‘ is an act that demands that we organize ourselves politically and socially as black women who intimately love other women. Johannesburg 2007 During Apartheid. lesbian and African is by its very nature political in a world that is still overwhelmingly heterosexual. To be black.

2003) According to Sabine Neidhardt. this racialized and gendered sexual regulation during the Apartheid era may be one reason why lesbians in general. . Despite his activism in both the anti-Apartheid movement and the anti-homophobia campaigns against the Apartheid government. The focus of homosexual regulation therefore was primarily on white gay men and inter-racial homosexuality. have been so neglected within the research and literature until 1994.6 (Neidhardt. but on heterosexuality. black gay organizations formed as a way of collectively organizing against. which led to GASA being expelled from the International Gay and Lesbian Association in 1987.10 homosexuality and inter-racial sexual relationships through the Morality Act of 1957. GASA‘s internal white and middle class race politics prevented the organization from supporting Nkoli publicly. As queers. the year of the first Gay Pride march in Johannesburg. White supremacy is premised not only on a notion of racial purity and the invented notion of racial hierarchies. and resisting homophobia. As a result. and black lesbians in particular. and Apartheid. 2006) Prior to 1990. This was the year anti-apartheid activist Simon Nkoli. 5 (Elder. our faces and voices as black lesbians were never even imagined. racism. a black member of the non-racial Gay Association of South Africa (GASA). a gay black presence began to come out strongly in South Africa only in 1986. was arrested and charged with treason along with 21 other men in what became known as the Delmas Treason Trial. While lesbians were seldom a focus of the Apartheid State‘s attention. women‘s sexuality and activity was tightly regulated because we have the abilities to reproduce and inter-racial reproduction was outlawed. According to anti-Apartheid and gay rights activists Sheila Lapinsky and Mazibuko Jara. we were seen as a threat to the ordering of racial hierarchy and white supremacy through our homosexuality and our blackness.

1998) . Donham remarked. and Lesbians (ABIGALE) emerged in 1992. In the early 1990s.‖8 (Donham. as Lapinsky and Jara argue. female. ―by the late 1980. these were spaces dominated politically and structurally by black gay men. Moreover. it was clear to everyone in South Africa that a new society was in process of being born. they too were dominated by white lesbians who concerned themselves with feminist issues that tended to be silent on the political economy of race in South Africa.‖7 (Lapinsky and Jara. and lesbian. ―black lesbians seldom linked up with the mainly white lesbian organizations not only because they felt excluded. six months before the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in February 1990. While such lesbian organizations as Association of Bisexuals. This was a time when many black queers felt more comfortable marching with paper bags covering their faces. She later started and leads the HIV/AIDS organization Positive Women‘s Network and continues to thrive and survive the disease. but because exposing themselves as lesbians may have alienated them from their more conservative black comrades in the anti-Apartheid struggle. 1998) As the country saw its first Gay Pride march in Johannesburg in September 1989.11 However. black lesbians such as Bev Ditsie and Phumi Mtetwa began to come out publicly to speak about being black African. but also about her HIV/AIDS status. Gays. and Cape Town and Sunday‘s Women in Durban popped up in the 1980s. As Donald L. Prudence Mabele was the first black lesbian to come out publicly to speak not only about her lesbian sexuality.

patriarchy. the gendered tensions between lesbians and gay men continued. who got strongly involved and joined the anti-Apartheid movement after Nkoli‘s arrest—black lesbians were struggling against the triple bias of homophobia. the Netherlands and Canada. Parktown. and racism. making an intersectional analysis of a radical queer history of South Africa so very important to our understanding of the complex dynamics today. Johannesburg (2007) Yet. sexism. despite the political engagements by black lesbians. according to Neidhardt.12 Figure 4: Being. Some reasons for this continued tension may be. that while black gay men had international support from white gay organizations abroad— especially those in Britain. Mpumi Mathabela.9 Even in the post- .

heterosexist culture where heterosexuality is privileged above other forms of sexuality as the ideal. the courts ruled that excluding homosexuals from pension funds was unconstitutional. and in 2001.10 (Cock. in reality. correct form of sexuality and relationship. 12 (Shefer and . to fight against sexual and gender discrimination using the Constitution costs much in legal fees. 2001:39) While in theory these legal victories are for the benefit of all. and adequate and affordable health care. South Africa remains a highly homophobic. while sodomy laws were officially ruled as unconstitutional and then decriminalized in South Africa by the Constitutional Court in 1999. 2001:175) Moreover. While we do not have official statistics on the unemployment status of lesbians as they are categorized only by gender. the majority of black lesbian women have neither the access to education or high enough paying jobs to access pension funds. lesbians had little to benefit as the laws did not apply to them. With the official unemployment rate in South Africa at 36%. and after the 1996 Constitution included sexual orientation in its Equality Clause. age and geographic location. food for their children. the majority of under-educated lesbians in my community are either jobless or under-employed. money the majority of lesbians in my community do not have as they struggle to access safe housing. and there is evidently more space for alternative sexual practices and identities in South Africa with legal victories (such as the recent recognition of legal relationships between homosexual partners) securing constitutional and social gains in lived experience.11 (Marais. In 2000. the unemployment rate of black women in South Africa is at 52%. the Pretoria High Court ruled same-sex adoption discrimination by the Child Care Act and the Guardianship Act as unconstitutional. Shefer and Potgieter also rightly make the comment that: While the Constitution clearly protects sexual rights.13 1994 era. For instance. the issues that dominated LGBTI legal struggles rarely addressed the complex socio-cultural issues and economic struggles faced by black lesbians.

Like sociologists. and social unrest. we need to be conscious of our own positioning in relation to the researched and the social and political context in which the research occurs. and cultures. Johannesburg. thereby entering upon common ground with sociology. Having been a lesbian and human rights activist in Johannesburg for years. photographers have been concerned. Among its several uses.‖ 13 -South African gender scholars Tamara Shefer and Cheryl Potgieter (2006: 104) The act of taking a photograph and preserving a life moment has always fascinated me. especially after I was given the chance to pursue a project that dealt with my life and work.14 Potgieter 2006: 104) Visual Activism Photography and sociology have approximately the same birth date. From its beginnings. in their professional lives. . social classes. Both have studied occupations and related institutions of work. photography has been a tool to explore society. if you count sociology's birth as the publication of Comte's work. poverty. Even women were subjects captured almost exclusively by the male gaze. and photographers have taken that as one of their tasks. I began seriously to commit myself to visual activism. and photography's birth as the date in 1839 when Daguerre made public his method for fixing an image on a metal plate. especially since within my Zulu culture this was the role of men. Northwestern University ―No matter what the method. I took a photography course at Market Photo Workshop in Newtown. cities. which gave it its name. . Market Photo was set up by my mentor and famed South African photographer David Goldblatt in order that young and economically marginalized (read: black) photographers could gain access to training and skills. communities. I first began to document and take pictures informally at events and parties that had to do with my own personal life as a way of asserting my right to record my life. racism. photography has been used as a tool for the exploration of society. As such. with contemporary social problems: immigration. In 2001.Howard Becker. societies.

even though South Africa was celebrating 10 years of democracy and human rights in that same year. my photography dealt with black women‘s subjectivities. and gendered lesbian sexualities. such ideas and statements were still being made. The photographs were for us to re-image and re-imagine ourselves. to see likenesses and to celebrate our diverse embodiments of what it means to be a lesbian in South Africa. and one male student dropped out of the program in 2004. not everyone was as supportive. What the white man brought was homophobia clothed in religious doctrines that we did not have before. The notion of homosexuality as un-African was introduced to us by our European colonizers.‖ But as Donna Smith. or that they are trying to be ―white‖ since homosexuality is seen as a ―white thing. However. . then. black female bodies have been positioned as objects for western science to explore. In my own practice. 2006) Nonetheless. as he believed that it spoke to me and my cause— photography as a tool for social change.‖ (Smith. Since the advent of colonialism in Africa. saying he was offended by the images of African women portrayed as lesbians. At Market Photo Workshop. ―some people believe homosexuality is an idea brought [to Africa] by the white man. From the beginning. and today this attitude is expressed most often in the ideas that black women who are lesbians are just disappointed by men.15 In a class of 13 students. I actively chose to work against this by ensuring that the photographs I produced of black women‘s bodies would no longer subject us to spectacle or the exclusive male gaze. former director of Forum for the Empowerment of Women explains. therefore. classed. I had full support from the director who encouraged me to pursue my project on black female sexualities. and open to being gendered spectacles for European consumption. But it has always been here. I decided to focus on my community and our racialized.

I participated in a show for Women‘s Month entitled Is Anybody Comfortable? I can still recall the impact those 14 photographs had on the audience. Others felt violated as they did not expect to see images of black women in intimate lesbian contexts in a public gallery. because I liked the texture and classical feel it creates in photos.16 In March of 2004.‖ It was after those 3 exhibitions that my photographs gained national media publicity. my photographs were not funded as I was delving into a taboo matter. That same year. My preferable colour was black and white. There was a sense of shock. I received support solely from friends and acquaintances who are participants and not ‗subjects‘ in my projects. In none of my work do I use fancy equipment and artificial lights. no special lighting. stating that ―homosexuals need to be prayed for to change their queer behaviour. In August of that year. Some of my work went over some people‘s heads and they did not understand the intentions of my photographs. I used both 35mm and 120mm film with still camera. for the Gender & Visuality conference. with people inviting others to see my ―shocking images. At this early stage. I participated in a poster presentation at that University of Western Cape. and make-up‘ .‖ At the end of that year some journalist began to call me a ―controversial lesbian photographer‖ which I took as a derogatory remark. The public space in which many other photographs were displayed became the most frequented area of the conference. There were those who recommended scriptures. and people described their feelings as they read the text and the images. In one of the interviews I confessed that the images that I captured were not ‗stolen glances‘ and that the work was ‗… preservative free. as part of student exhibition called Visual Sexuality. Viewers were encouraged to write their comments in a book. I had my first solo exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery.

I believe that not only could I not document a collective history on my own. employment. In 2004. over 60 women have been trained in basic photography. without being judged or discriminated for their sexualities. So far. and mainstream media. I believe many different voices are needed in order to effect real social and cultural change at the grassroots. FEW provided what little information that existed then about our socio-political lives. to organize for the opportunities to access services like healthcare. The organization has since taken off and has been approached by both domestic and overseas scholars. researchers took our information and stories and packaged it for academic use. documentation. and housing. relationships of friendship. It was hard for us to access their academic theories and their writings about ―us. As an activist who has worked in the LGBTI sector for many years. I wanted my work and my people to be presented in the most natural manner to reveal the intimacy about the women featuring in it. and to highlight the relationships between the women and me. 2006: Online). and solidarity.17 (Mask Admin.‖ It was also offensive to be told about us by someone else—especially when we continue to struggle for our safety in the townships while researchers have the privilege to leave and return to their secure academic lives. My vision for FEW was for black lesbian women to have a safe space to go. and community research skills. education. but that I should not be the only black lesbian to create what is a collective experience of us for us. I have continued with this training annually since then. I also initiated the first Photo XP—photo experience classes designed to encourage young black lesbians in my community to document their own lives and histories. I co-founded the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002. . familiarity. and will speak more on the meaning of Photo XP below. While mainstream media tended to sensationalize our stories.

My critical aim was for everyone to see and hear the anguish women experience. despite a constitution that guaranteed our freedom from discrimination. we had to tell our own stories and create our own histories. I then reached a point in my life where I told myself we can do it for ourselves. I had my second solo exhibition entitled Only Half the Picture. In 2006. I began to understand at the gut level that if we are to survive as a community and to build our dignity as black lesbians. 2006: 4) My anticipation was to force the viewer to rethink how they viewed black African lesbians. HIV positive friends who have survived ‗curative rapes‘ and cry with them. Documenting black lesbians—women who are my friends. I go to their funerals when they are brutally murdered for being lesbians as was the case in . and written about left me feeling disempowered and exploited. I sit with rape survivors.18 These experiences of being sensationalized.‖ (Muholi. researched. in which I told a narrative that was not ―chronological. and torments that many in my community face. I chronicled the reality of hate crimes. sexual violations. I focused on the struggles we still face as lesbians. acquaintances. My approach to my second solo exhibition in 2006 was different than the first one. I tried in this exhibition to highlight the physically and emotionally brutal aftermath of those incidents. I fact. I deal with their traumas. My self-portraits were included in that series as I believed that one should interrogate the self as much as others. and I hoped to dissipate stereotypes of black lesbian women in South Africa. but reflective of the complexities of black female subjectivities within the post-apartheid South African context. neighbours. In that series of photographs there were images of my own menstrual blood mixed with intimate images of lesbian couples and of hate crime survivors. I take them to hospital and talk with their families. kids the ages of my own nieces—has not come easy for me.

19 2007 with Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa. my relationship to my subjects.‘ Failing to conform to these expectations.… I have had the pain of fragmentation deeply impressed upon my consciousness. The alienation felt by many people who are concerned about domination – the struggles we have even to make of our words a language that can be shared. understood. deserving ‗curative rape‘ to erase our desires to be male. There are expectations that African women must have children and procreate with a male partner who is to be the head of the family. All such negative connotations distort the beautiful image of ‗this subculture of women. mothers. I mourn with the families as their beloved pass away from AIDS related diseases and suicide. in thinking activism and thinking black. as they are called. we are perceived as deviants. my visual activism. and as un-African. It is said that is part of the ‗African tradition. I will briefly outline how the experiences of my community of hate crimes and living and dying with HIV/AIDS have shaped my projects. Hate crimes In South African black culture. are perpetrated against us in order to make us into ―real‖ and ―true‖ African women—appropriately feminine. Talking Back (1989:3) Below. my political commitments.‘ . men‘s property.‖ –bell hooks. Curative rapes. being a black lesbian is seen as negative. From where I come. This is where my activism and my ‗art‘ becomes what to me is visual activism. it will always be activism before aesthetics. as destroying the nuclear heterosexual family. art work. bell hooks encapsulates well what I would like to convey by stating: ―I have approached my work by rooting them in personal reflection.

I journeyed the townships and listened to and recorded more than 50 cases. I had the unexpected opportunity to interview a self-identified rapist of lesbian women. We broke up after that. and a man who made the conscious decision to control lesbian women through rape was not lost on either of us. Kekeletso Khena related her case of being a rape survivor as a teenager. These are some of the narratives and experiences of brutal violence from the women in my community. She later became a spokesperson for The Rose Has Thorns campaign mounted by Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2003. but could not have her case heard in court because the alleged accused was a policeman. and one time potential target of his rage. He gave me much insight into what motivated him and made him perpetrate hate crime. Phumla Masango was another woman whose girlfriend‘s former boyfriend verbally abused her. The following is what 'Xolani' (pseudonym) confessed to me. I use the . In 2003.14 In 2003. I started documenting hate crimes.20 In 1996 I experienced a severe hate crime when I was beaten up by my former girlfriend‘s mother. as I believed that it is important to put a face on each and every issue. In narrative and visual research – what I called A Township Tale—I began in 2002 after Tshidi Telekoa came out and related her testimony of being attacked by her neighbor and could not get any support from her family. despite the unplanned and spontaneous nature of our exchange. Six years later. This experience was a wake up call about the effects of lesbophobic attacks. I conducted interviews and recorded survivors to mark their experiences. Her mother believed that I was a ‗pervert‘ who promoted homosexuality and made her daughter into a lesbian. resistance and existence as black lesbians in the country. This rare exchange between a black lesbian.

nor prompted him to explain his actions. as she was scared for her life. The rampant hate crimes are used to make black lesbians invisible. even sometimes family members. to hang out like always… We had already planned what we wanted to do… We took turns raping her and told her that if she reported us to the police we were going to kill her family. but we wanted to prove her wrong – that she was not a man… One day she came to us after school. Some of the curative rapes inflicted on our bodies are reported to the police. despite the success of South Africa being one of only 5 countries in the world to pass the legalization of same-sex unions under the Civil Union Act of 2006. I repent for what we did and wish I could apologize to her for what we did. Challenging the norms of compulsory heterosexuality has put many at risk. aged 16. was raped and stabbed to death in Soweto.21 word confessed here because I neither requested the interview with him. neighbours. was stoned to death for being openly lesbian by 20 young men in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha. from so called friends. because coming out exposes us to the harshness of patriarchal pressures. Black lesbians in the country experience rape from gangs. As related in Xolani‘s words and translated from Zulu into English: It happened in 1996 when me and three of my gangsters raped a lesbian friend of ours… We all knew that she was a virgin. . He simply asked if he could speak to me because he had something on his mind. Here is a list of a few women who have been brutally raped or murdered for being lesbian in the last 3 years. aged 19. 2006: Zoliswa Nkonyana. She did not go to the police.15 Currently South Africa has no anti-hate crime legislation. 2006: Madoe Mafubedu. but many others go unreported. it was just ignorance that led to that brutality.

gender. tortured. was murdered in Kwa-Thema. 2007: Thokozane Qwabe was found callously murdered in Ezakheni. According to Neidhardt. encountered at the hands of staff in a private hospital outside of Johannesburg. She was 24 and was a former colleague at the Forum for the Empowerment of . She ponders the hate speech and ill treatment that Buhle Msibi. as well as her twoyear-old daughter were raped and murdered in June. there are complex dynamics of HIV/AIDS complicated by class. 2006. and white privilege in South Africa‘s health sector in her article. There is a need for safe and affordable barrier methods for women who have sex with women. a lesbian activist living in Soweto. a Banyana Banyana soccer player. The ongoing marginalization of black lesbians or women who have sex with women in South Africa‘s health sector is a major area that still has to be advocated for. KwaZulu Natal.22 2007: Sizakele Sigasa. two other closest friends died respectively in 2007 and 2006. and her partner Salome Masooa were raped. Msibi was declared unworthy of basic dignity and care weeks before she passed away on April 1. Each one succumbed to AIDS-related complications. and murdered in July. Springs. and sensitive medical services are not yet available to meet the needs of the many lesbians who are HIV positive. race. 2007: Simangele Nhlapo. Ladysmith. an HIV-positive black lesbian who had developed AIDS. Adequate. member of an HIV-positive support group. affordable. HIV/AIDS pandemic In March 2009 I witnessed the death of a 35 years old friend. 2008: Eudy Simelane.

My son. as well as a poet. she died at Sizwe Tropical Hospital from drug-resistant TB. let nothing stop you from being you. I lost a friend. She worked tirelessly for FEW. and mother to her son Nkosana.23 Women (FEW). and gave her energies to the One in Nine Campaign that advocates for political and moral support to women survivors of sexual . she recited a poem dedicated to her son titled: “Mfana wami” – My boy.‖ In one of her last performances during Pride week in September 2005. 16 Msibi fought tirelessly for the rights of HIV-positive lesbians and others. 2007 the lesbian community lost Busi Sigasa (25) to AIDS. Interestingly. but could not access dignity and care at the end of her life. She never lived long enough to witness her son‘s first day at school. In her own words she emphasized the issue of motherhood and sexuality when she wrote ―… I believe that we are capable of giving birth… I am a proud mother of a six year old boy. Shine my beautiful diamond The sun is willing to enhance your galactic glow Fly my colorful butterfly Summer is yours to spread your wings and your colours of love Flow my strings. Her TB is what her private health care providers failed to notice. writer. Msibi‘s own work and contribution to the struggle against the stigma of HIV/AIDS was marred by the parallel struggle against the homophobia she endured in these very same organizations that fought the AIDS stigma. On the day of her mother‘s 43rd birthday. flow endlessly to the ocean and let be no one to stop you Be all that you can be. that’s my boy. On March 12.

you had no time and you were always busy and occupied I don’t blame you either because no matter what the fact remains…. She contracted HIV/AIDS after she was raped near her home. I tried. As if she had a premonition that she was going to pass on. She endured bashings and multiple rapes because of her lesbianism. There’s no use in you asking me why I never told you because the fact remains…. Its not going to change anything Don’t ask me who was my rapist because it makes me mad But mad as I can be and for everyone’s sake and my own Life goes on and still The fact remains…that I AM INFECTED!!! 17 . Sigasa used poetry as a means of voicing her concerns. she wrote Remember Me When I’m Gone and the Fact Remains just before her passing: The Fact Remains There’s no point in blaming myself or anyone the fact remains…. I am now counted in the statistics because the fact remains… Don’t tell me I should have never allowed my story to be published because…. I’m not looking for sympathy or feeling sorry things happened this way nothing anyone can say will change anything because the fact remains…. of communicating with her peers. and for healing. The fact remains… You don’t know how I feel-no one does and the the fact remains…. Don’t tell me what people might say or think because the fact remains….24 assault. Just like any other outspoken survivor.

because they write about the reality of our lives quite simply. Constitution Hill. All the three deceased women were friends that I lost. a lesbian and women‘s rights activist and poet. I feel such candid and personal writings are essential in helping others to know that they are not alone. A community with no history is doomed to repeat its mistakes. It is through the women‘s experiences like hate crimes and HIV/AIDS cases that I have recorded that agitated my visual activism so that the . choose to immortalize their work. ―Our labor has become more important than our silence. I.25 Figure 5 Late Busi Sigasa. Hillbrow (2006) I am very keen on documenting works of such women as Busi Sigasa. In her poem The Fact Remains she speaks about her struggles as a HIV-positive lesbian despite the denial of her humanity and the ongoing struggle to attain all of the rights other South Africans enjoy.‖18 Busi and Buhle laboured for us through their activist work and through the powerful words they left behind. in turn. More so these are the documents that need to live on! As Audre Lorde told us long ago.

I intended to show our emerging South African black lesbian aesthetics through portraiture. In the following. I wanted to resist the heterosexual representation of lesbians through portraits. These documentations mark these incidents. former Director GALA (2005) ―There was a time when we black people needed other people to speak for us because we could not always speak for ourselves. especially because positive images of us within the women‘s and queer archives are almost non-existent.‖ -bell hooks. In late 2006 and 2007. And our struggle today is to be heard. And though I am very grateful to white historians and the like who worked to inform people about black experience—we can do speak for ourselves.26 world knows are about ongoing struggles of lesbians. Natasha Distiller argues that a vocabulary to represent lesbian desire and the pleasures of their fulfillment is provided by a linguistic and representational system which has no space to engage with the notion of the lesbian. .‖ . except in relation to its own hetero/sexuality (Distiller 2005:45). I embarked on the Faces & Phases and Being series which captures the diversity of lesbians in our different communities. I will discuss the transition from capturing hard and raw images to photographs that are more nuanced. Talking Back (1989:83) With Faces & Phases. Faces & Phases ―Black lesbians have very low visibility in terms of our past. as well as our existence and resistance as black lesbians in the country as I believe that it is important to put a face to each and every issue.Ruth Morgan.

27 Historically. The project features black and white photographs of butches and femmes from various townships who defy homophobia and the stigmas attached to their lesbian identity. Faces express the persons. Vosloorus. and classed selves in rich and diverse ways? I wanted the viewer to ask herself—is this lesbian more authentic than that lesbian because one wears a tie and the other not? Is this a man or a . actresses. One of our collective painful experiences as a community is the loss of friends and acquaintances through disease and hate crimes. and Phases signifies the transition from one stage of sexuality or gender expression and experience to another. lawyers. dancers. filmmakers and writers. It is that kind of sensationalism that motivated the core of these images in order to resist victimhood. portraits serve as memorable records for families and friends as evidence when someone passes. Katlehong and Kagiso. scholars. activists. What is left behind now is the individual portrait that works as a site of memory for us. Each time we are represented by outsiders. Individuals who participated are friends and acquaintances who hold different positions in the community such as soccer players. Gugulethu. Hate crimes and negativity towards queer community has distorted the positive images of black lesbians. The viewers are also forced to engage with the question of what does a lesbian look like? Is there a lesbian aesthetic or do we express our gendered. Some of these participated in my visual projects. as a trace of ‗who and what existed‘ in a particular space at this particular moment when our black lesbian and South African histories intersect. Soweto. Faces is also about the face to face confrontation between me as the photographer/ activist and the many lesbians I interact with from different Gauteng and Cape Town townships such as Alexandra. racialized. Khayelitsha. the image represented portrays victims rather than victors.

. 2008 More Faces & Phases photos.28 woman... 
 Figure 10: Faces & Phases: Siyafana. or a transman? Can you identify a rape survivor by the clothes she wears? Leaving the viewer to wonder is one strategy of disorganizing the gendering and the sexualizing that goes into the heterosexual script. Faces & Phases portraits have now expanded into a new phase which is in button format.

There are 5 buttons produced per image. and mobile archive.29 In this way. 2 Lakeside. Being (2007) Figure 12: from Being series Katlego Mashiloane & Nosipho Lavuta. Johannesburg. two are kept by the author. and one will contribute to the Black Lesbian Memory Project initiated by FEW in 2008. 2007 . The Memory Project aims to archive black lesbian lives. I use buttons to mark the existence of black lesbians. where and when this could be accessed. Two go to the participant. Ext. In addition. Buttons have a long history of acting as messages of protest against injustice. buttons are also used as a new medium of producing an archivable material in large quantities for this visual history. participants can take direct ownership of their images. Individuals make decisions on how. accessible. especially during the anti-Apartheid struggles globally. The strategy is designed to create an easy.

30 Being series continues to explore the love and intimacy within our relationships regardless of the on-going pain and struggles that we face. violence against women. My projects are about our histories. willing to bare and express their love for each other. Each photograph features a couple in their different settings of their daily lives. poverty and unemployment. Lovers and friends consented to participate in the project. laughter. hate crimes. because it is through capturing the visual pleasures and erotica of my community that our being comes into focus. and within their daily routine. joy that we can sustain our strength and regain our sanity as we move into a future that is sadly still filled with the threat of insecurities . I choose the latter path. into community and national consciousness. I have the choice to portray my community in a manner that will turn us once again into a commodity to be consumed by the outside world. struggles and lives. Massa&Mina(h) . And it is through seeing ourselves as we find love.HIV/AIDS. or to create a body of meaning that is welcomed by us as a community of queer black women.

Scholars are now contextualizing the subject matter differently and engaging with participants at first hand. Methodology Within the last five years. and emotional abuses in their place of work. and photo III in Boston (2009) 19 In this latest project Massa and Mina(h) ( 2008). I draw on my own memories. I have used multiple methodologies as a way of . while often facing physical. I turn my own black body into a subject of art. There continues to be little recognition and little protection from the state for the hard labour these women perform to feed and clothe and house their families. financial. and for service providers to grapple with and include our lesbian issues in their mandates. The series is also meant to acknowledge all domestic workers around the globe who continue to labour with dignity. and pay tribute to her domesticated role as a worker for the same family for 42 years. I use performativity to deal with the still racialized issues of female domesticity—black women doing housework for white families.31 Figure 13: from Mass & Mina(h) photos I & II captured in Cape Town (2008). The photographs are also used to create dialogues at events and in platforms where gender is discussed. The project is based on the life and story of my mother. I allow various photographers to capture my image as directed by me. I believe the mindset of people is changing slowly. The abovementioned projects have had a great impact on participants and allies to begin to understand the importance of our history. though it will take time to completely erase the homophobia and stigma attached to our identities.

The photographs produced would later form part of the community archive and would be presented at . I have made sure that those who have participated in my photographs are the ones to go to conferences in order that they can experience traveling and being the experts of their own worlds. in the Cape Town townships of Khayelitsha and Gugulethu. Both groups were young black lesbians from various townships. I would like to elaborate here on the necessity of this. The theme for the project was Indawo Yami – My Place. I capture images of black lesbians through first hand experience. and 2008. One strategy I employ as a visual activist is to share my photography skills with my community by facilitating annual visual literacy/photo experience classes as I already mentioned above. By empowering marginalized women to become researchers of their own lives and realities we are able to undo the stigmas put on us and present aspects of our lives that we hold dear to us. Their photographs then become part of the exhibitions I hold. 2006. I first initiated the self-funded visual literacy/photo experience in 2004 with a group of 14 women in Johannesburg and 7 in Pretoria. Gallerists. feminists and researchers define me as an artist but I am an activist before I am an artist. academics. At other times. I am conscious of my status as both an insider and outsider. I worked with eight black lesbian youth between the ages of 18-29. I continued to facilitate in 2005. and often I refrain from exhibiting my own work because I want their work to shine and to speak.32 ensuring that my work is in keeping within a critical and activist framework. 2007. My visuals are about creating social change for my community and that means I must involve my black lesbian township community. The latest sessions of this program were in 2008.

working class. and does not aim to reduce people‘s experiences to scientifically tested theories and objective reality. this methodology is chosen because of my insider/outsider status within the black lesbian community of Johannesburg. lesbian woman. She says that auto-ethnography ―overlaps art and science‖ by being partly about self and partly about culture. photographer and subject will ultimately remain because of the spaces I can . (Ellis 2004: 2931) I am socially located as a black.activist researcher. So far more than 60 women have been trained to become knowledge producers and experts of their own lives. Being series. I have drawn much from Carol Ellis‘s understanding and practice of autoethnography. 2003-2008 works. as visual artist. To me this means that I must always be careful not to reify my multiple positions in the community as lesbian rights and anti-violence/anti-hate crimes activist. Some of the participants in those programs have also inspired my photographic projects like Only Half the Picture. I believe a power dynamic between researcher and researched. township born and raised. and Faces & Phases. My methodologies for these projects are also partly ethnographic and partly autoethnographic. I am on a continuous journey of selfreflection as I attempt to bring visibility to what has historically been the visually suppressed identities of black lesbians—and my own lesbian subjectivity. and as scholar. She defines auto-ethnography as ―a reflexive connection [that] exists between the lives of participants and researchers‖ and that this relationship itself must be explored and become a focus for inquiry.33 different conferences. These same women later participated in the Faces & Phases (2008). She suggests that this is different from traditional ethnographic research because it captures the subjective experiences of people within their social and culture worlds.

I will also mention some of the venues at which I have circulated my photographic projects. and service providers. lesbian contests. I try often to provide accompanying text such as poems or statements from the women themselves. activists. I also use participant observations as methodology. For this reason. I risk further marginalizing my people and not working toward our liberation. Ellis also points out that auto-ethnographic research is often about interpretive narratives and story telling. and the access to power that I enjoy simply because people see me as an activist/artist/expert.‖ (Ellis 2004: 32) The visual narratives I present in this project are accompanied by black lesbian women speaking their stories for themselves. funerals. I simply share those emotional spaces where people‘s lives play out such as weddings. sports tournaments. pride marches. Dissemination Strategies In this section I discuss some dissemination strategies that I have used to get the social issues I am trying to highlight through my work out into the mainstream. She states ―stories are the ways human make sense of their worlds. ‗organic intellectuals‘ who serve people at grassroots level. and conferences in which data is collected. If I don‘t constantly think about myself in relation to power. My intended audiences are community members and participants themselves. .34 access. protests.

35 Conferences and Academic Spaces I have learned to use the academic. academic. I am usually only one of a handful of black women present. I still keep in touch with most students that I networked with. where I used radical and informal performance to highlight the issues I explore in the Massa and Mina(h) series. Women‘s Centre in Dublin. During the summer of 2008. Ireland. With that I wanted the viewers to think about the racial. I attended the Sexuality Institute at San Francisco State University where I presented my visuals to a group of MA and PhD students from various universities in the US and abroad. activist and community conferences. and we continue to exchange educational information in the field of sexuality. At most conferences that I present. Since 2007 I have participated in more than 15 international feminists. I have disseminated my images through different networks at academic institutions and conferences where I either get invited or submit abstracts and always propose to do poster presentations. feminist. and class dynamics of domestic work as it still persists today. I was an Artist-in-Residence at the . End February till March 2009. and activist interest in my work and projects in order to queer what are still very heterosexual spaces. The recent conferences I attended include the 2008 Association of Women in Development (AWID) in Cape Town. gender. I also notice that my work is the only one that deals with black female sexuality and lesbianism from an insider point of view. themed Lesbian Art held at the University College of Dublin. In February 2009 I presented a poster paper titled ‗Sikhona – We Exist‘ at Lesbian Lives XVI.

which included the button series. 2009 the Documentary Media Now. Exhibitions I participate in many solo and group exhibitions. I gave educational talks to under graduate students in Women and Gender Studies. Two-dimensional presentations of black and white photographs were displayed. I conducted a two day community photography workshop. I also engaged in art critique with graduate students who were doing Masters of Science in Visual Arts. also a photographer who captured some of the images in the Massa & Mina(h) series. within South Africa and abroad. Being at MIT was the most incredible experience and what I really found useful about their program is how they combined art with science. art. .36 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for 2 weeks. I was happy to see that it was not confined to a discipline on its own. The most recent shows that I have participated in showcased Faces & Phases. On June 11. highlighting my construction of our visual history. with 10 student participants from various faculties. Since I believe art is not one dimensional. I also had a major artist‘s talk at the Broad Institute where I spoke about the on-going struggles of black lesbians in South Africa. women and gender studies. Ryerson University MFA Graduate Festival was held at the Lennox Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto. I networked with artists like Bill Viola and professors who are experts in film. Additionally. My own combination of art and activism works toward this end. During this time. Most of the shows that I participate in I am invited to as the curators believe that the work will have an impact in their audiences. I also collaborated with Professor Graham Ramsay.

I am approached by writers. and feminist journals. scholars and researchers who request for interviews. In case there is any transactions involve or contribution made by writers. I started and . books. In early 2008. and with each contribution I make I always ask for copies to preserve in my personal archive. The exhibited work gave an opportunity to the photo experience participants to visit the gallery for the first time to see themselves in the exhibition. Publications I have contributed my photographs to many academic and activist publications. Netherlands.37 as way of conveying resistance and political messages using this medium. For some funds raised in 2007/8. In 2008 I also had an opportunity to feature the image ID Crisis (2003) in the exhibition Black Womanhood at Hood Museum. White City in Soweto. Cape Town. I also use that opportunity for reference purposes. I extend a portion of those finances to those women in my community who need to further their education at public schools. New Hampshire. the work was included in a show called Make Art/ Stop AIDS at Fowler Museum at UCLA. In September the Being series was solo exhibited at Arte De‘case Gallery in Milan. Italy. art magazines. In December. The portraits captured during Fall 2008 were included in the 2008/9 Summer show at Michael Stevenson Gallery. Another show is the 2009 Rebelle: Feminist Arts 1969-2009 held at the Museum of Modern Art in Arnhem. Often. I donated to Miss Lesbian contest held in November 2008 at Mavis Hall. The show traveled to other US venues and ended April 2009 at San Diego Museum. Hanover.

The participants got opportunity to explore different field trip at galleries. The latest 2008 session was held in Khayelitsha and Gugulethu townships of Cape Town. Lesbian Men and Ancestral Wives edited by Ruth Morgan and Saskia Wieringa. heterosexual Zulu women—contribute to caring for. My sister and my mother—two traditional. I also took them on educational . In 2005: Tommy Boys. I also have work featured in the 2006 To Have and To Hold: The Making of the Same Sex marriage in South Africa. and guiding these women. In the journal is a published conversation I had with Clarissa Sligh.38 funded a lesbian soccer team in Umlazi township. nurturing. and the AWID conference. The team is in the process of registering to participate in the 2010 Cologne Gay Games. closed meetings like Federation of Gay Games annual meeting. Some of my photographs are also included in 2009 Winter issue of Exposure photo journal edited by Carla Williams. Other conversations and interviews are included in journals to numerous to mention. Visual literacy classes I have already mentioned my non-funded community Photo XP projects in which I train women from the townships and rural areas basic photographic. a US based feminist artist. and research skills. The community resides in one of the most marginalized and under-resourced areas in the South of Durban. documentary. The book documented female same sex practices in Africa. The team is solely financed with moneys made either at artist talks or at residences. edited by Anthony Manion and Melanie Judge.

For those who are not interested in photography I refer them to other organizations who offer different empowerment projects. The course is offered for free and it is my own strategy of contributing some skill to the community that supports my initiatives as well. a lesbian photographer and archivist of the LGBT archive (IHLA) in Amsterdam. While my own past is rooted in growing up in poverty and struggling to live life as a black lesbian in a country that has transitioned from a violent anti-apartheid struggle to a . Most of my early and recent photographs are temporary housed at the Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action previously known as GALA in South Africa. I must therefore speak honestly about the complexity of being both an insider and an outsider to this community. especially when the work is dealing with the struggles and joys of real human beings. In 2006 I was interviewed by Marian Bakker. Reflections: Dilemmas and Complexities Reflection about one‘s work is always necessary. Archives In 2007 I contributed some work to the Lesbian Herstory Archive (LHA) in New York. Their involvement in my work has helped many to gain self-esteem and have access to other opportunities – internship programs in the private and public sector. They took photographs and participated in protest and marches. The purpose for the project is to share knowledge and also to teach women to document their own lives. The participants involved later become faces of my portraits.39 tours where they visited LGBT organizations to learn about the functions of each organization.

The question is then of who owns the images? If verbal or written consent is given to me. researcher. artist. but often difficult since the commodified art world does not have much patience for delays and democratic and collective decision making. This privilege comes from being an activist. the relationship between activist. I am at the same time becoming alienated from my community because they cannot yet access what I have been able to access. While I have struggled for our collective rights and freedoms as an activist. I have to inform my participants where their images are being shown and then get permission to show those photographs. and documentarian that allows me to access knowledge and spaces in academic classrooms. and meetings all over the world. I have also entered a space of privilege in the past few years.40 democracy within my adult life. at conferences. Thus. I face the intimate and emotional involvement I have with my participants as I have known them and worked along side of them for years. I reflect on this pain in my blood series (not shown in this paper) as I try to articulate and deal also with the loss of friends and . exhibitions. and while I witness and reveal the struggles and poverty of my black lesbian community through visuals. This is not only time consuming on my part. This outsider status also complicates the relationship between consent and ownership of the images. I am still in the ethical bind of wondering if I need a release form from the participant every time an image becomes part of an exhibition. I also wonder who owns the images of a woman who has participated in my photographs but has since passed away. and artist becomes complicated by my ‗outsider‘ status. Does that photograph go to the family album? As an insider though. Listening to testimonies of hate crimes and witnessing the physical and emotional scars of my people invokes deep pain inside my heart.

we have worked hard to create positive and socially significant images of black lesbians. as a comrade with and to these women. lesbophobic rapes and murders order to inform service providers and to come up with interventionist strategies. as a lover. a participant in the life dramas of my community. I cannot simply be a researcher. It has been my main mission to ensure that those who come after us have ‗eyes to see‘ the beautiful black marks of our existence and resistance through these historic moments in our country‘s transition to . my friend and I participated by negotiating with the families of both women to have a joint funeral. Both families were overwhelmed at that time and did not know how to handle the tense situation of losing their lesbian daughters. Conclusion Although the journey of my visual activism has been tough and has had many challenges. Some times I feel the numbness inside of me as another story of rape infects me. or artist. Just as there is an issue with the safety of my participants when their faces are recognized in my photos. I could not simply distance myself. When couple Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa were murdered in 2007. I also believe that we have made significant movement toward claiming visibility for ourselves. I also have to cry and mourn like every one else. so there is an issue of safety for me. I too get scarred by fear. When a woman dies. especially because I am known publicly. I become once again an activist. This insider status also comes with the fear of being the next hate crimes statistic.41 comrades to disease and other tragedies. I believe that as a community. As an activist I also have to capture the truth about HIV/AIDS. But as a friend.

Bart Luirink. Tommy Boys. End notes 1 It should be noted that this paper is written from a lesbian (feminist/activist) perspective.42 democracy. please see Glen S.html. Defiant Desires: Gay and Lesbian Lives in South Africa. “ Freeing South Africa: The ―Modernization‖ of Male-Male Sexuality in Soweto. ―Policing the Perverts: an exploratory investigation of the nature and social impact of police action toward gay and bisexual men in South Africa. Battling Hate Crimes Against Black Lesbians in the rainbow nation. Antje. Donham. I must transgress. pp. 1995. 1994.38. 5 For further reading. To be sensitive and considerate I have to be aware of fluidity of our gender and sexuality. Aubrey Theron and Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Graeme Reid and Theresa Dirsuweit. bell hooks once said that ―I must be willing to tell what I‘ve seen.‖ (hooks. State Accountability for Homophobic Violence. Many individuals have been informed and educated. POWA. Moffies Gay Life in South Africa. Or www.uvm. South Africa. as we continue to share black lesbian cultures. ―Understanding Systemic Violence. Jacana Publishers. Seminar 2. 1998. 2008. Elder.‖ (2000). Lesbian Men and Ancestral Wives. University of Cape Town. Homophobic Attacks in Johannesburg and Its Surroundings. Discussing the limitations of a US American concept and exploring the political horizon beyond law reform. 3-21. ― ―AntiGay Hate Crimes: Need for Police Intervention to Curb Violence Committed Against Gays‖. Johannesburg. 1993. September 2009. Paper presented to the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. 1995: 134) Indeed we have transgressed through many odds using visual activism. The issues illuminated through my visual narratives have created dialogues. by noting that it might happen that as I write.. 2005. 3 Morgan R. some entertained. Cape Town: Ink. Johannesburg. . and Wieringa S. 2 Some prominent gay research and literature to emerge at the time was Glen Retief. some of my participants who are/ informed my study might have transitioned (from female/lesbian identity to male/transmen) or other genders and sexualities. Mark Gevisser and Edward Cameron (eds. I must bear witness.edu/~geography/bodies.‖ Institute of Criminology. p. 4 Schuhmann.). ―The South African Body Politic: Exploring the spatial links between racism and compulsory heterosexuality‖ (1998) Pp. Paper accessed at the Gay and Lesbian Archives. My work within an intersectionality framework while understanding all aspects of human identity and interaction as constructed within social and historical contexts and infested with power relations.” Cultural Anthropology 13 (1) 1998. Johannesburg: Raven Press. Donald L. 153-164.

‖ in The Gender of Psychology. 10 Cock Jacklyn.‖ Cultural Anthropology 13 (1) 1998.. 2006. a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at York University. Canada.latifah.43 6 Neidhardt S. physical. New York: Zed Press.htm online access on 13/06/09 . 2001. The Black Unicorn. Donald L.W. p. 13 Ibid. and Kiguwa.‖ 15 Muholi Zanele. New York: W. 2 (2) 1998. ―Engendering Gay and Lesbian Rights: The Equality Clause in the South African Constitution.com Audre. Toronto.org. Being Mum.103. Lorde. 9 Author in private conversation with Neidhardt. 1978.‖ Development Update.. 2006-2008 Both Busi Sigasa‘s poems are published on her blog: www. 16 17 18 19 All figures included were accessed at the Michael Stevenson gallery website: http://www. 39. 2006. 2004 Muholi Zanele. ― Freeing South Africa: The ―Modernization‖ of Male-Male Sexuality in Soweto. Cape Town: UCT Press. 7 Lapinsky Sheila and Jara Mazibuko. 12 Shefer Tamara and Potgieter Cheryl.‖ in Women’s Global Reproduction Rights Network for Reproductive Rights HIV/AIDS and Women’s RSHR.‖ Women‘s Studies International Forum 26 (1) 2002. pp. 3-21. Neidhardt‘s dissertation research and activist work focuses on the politics of racialized and gendered sexualities in postApartheid South Africa. ―Forging a representative gay liberation movement in South Africa. edited by Shefer. South Africa. 11 Marais Hein. 104. Thinking through lesbian rape.wordpress.za under the title ―Zanele‘s Journeys. and/or sexual violence because they are lesbian and because they present in a gendered way that does not conform to the heterosexual and feminized version of what a ―real‖ African woman should look and act like. is a documentation of over 50 stories related by black lesbian women who are survivors of hate crimes.. ―Sexualities. Limits to Change: The Political Economy of Transition. 175-179. ―Race Matters in HIV/AIDS. Some of the testimonies of hate crimes are available on the Behind the Mask website: www. 8 Donham. p.mask. Norton & Co. Agenda 63. 14 In A Township Tale. Boonzaeir.michaelstevenson.com/contemporary/artists/muholi. They are living in and around Johannesburg townships and have experienced verbal.

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