“IF YOU WON’T FIGHT FOR YOUR OWN RIGHTS, WHO WILL? by Chris Needham



Equality. Nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you try.

Of course, nobody ever expects the ‚you‘ to actually mean you.

And that could be why equality remains elusive in some key respects for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

In South Africa there are, according to my knowledge, no same-sex couples legally registered as spouses.

In the United States (according to The Advocate) a gay couple is putting current legislation to the test by applying to be registered as husband and husband in the eyes of the law. They expect to be refused, which will give them reason to appeal the matter in court, thereby bringing attention to the glaring inequality the law offers to heterosexual and glbt people.

There may be those who would claim that society is changing and becoming more accepting of gay lifestyle.

In fact, what with the buying power of pink money, the ‚dinky‘ gay lifestyle (double income, no kids) has become downright fashionable: a lifestyle to be emulated.

So commodity producers and advertisers have learnt that the glbt community is a significantly powerful market and are taking this market into consideration. About time. 

And this is indeed one form of equality - the right to be included as an important consumer and catered for in a manner commensurate with one‘s lifestyle.

In terms of sheer visibility, gays and lesbians (possibly less so in the case of bisexuals and transgendered people) have made huge inroads. 

Not least because everyone has seen gay characters in movies and on television, and who doesn‘t know someone who knows someone who is gay in this world?

In the face of this astounding and growing societal and economic acceptance of gay people and their lifestyle, the flagrant lack of legal acceptance concerning same-sex couples is not only outdated but hypocritical.

If the people are becoming more accepting, why is it that legislation (a man-made set of rules, after all) is not keeping pace?

A dissenting voice could point out that there are cities in north America which do not outlaw marriage between two people of the same sex but this is simply a legal loophole in that those cities do not specify whether marriage partners have to be of different sexes, surely a result of outdated societal convention.

I doubt it would satisfy many same-sex couples to be legally married simply because a legislative body forgot to outlaw their union.

Once again, The Advocate has managed to keep us all abreast of the fact that the battle for equality has not been won in its vigilant reporting on the Knight initiative, which, if not competently opposed, could possibly set up precedent-setting legislation defining legal marriage as a union between a man and a woman only, in certain American states.

But with growing societal acceptance and an increasing frequency of out-of-wedlock living arrangements between couples of all orientations, one could argue that gays in America are merely getting their limelight-loving drama queen feathers ruffled and lip-synching a lot of hot air. After all, there‘s no business like showbusiness.

Except perhaps the court business that follows when a life partner (who would have been a legal spouse if only Justice would let him) gets hit by a truck because, well, those blasted stiletto heels would have to get stuck in a manhole while chasing after some tasty twentysomething hunk of meat across a dark road and Miss Judy had chosen non-reflective black over her flashy sequined number and hubby gets turfed out of the home he paid half the mortgage for because nobody would let him put his name on the dotted line next to his lover‘s.

And if the doctors had let him into the hospital ward, where only family are allowed to tread, he could have told them not to pull the plug: it wasn‘t what he would have wanted.

Cast real-life loves boy-next-door Steve Kmetko and respectable sports star Greg Louganis into the starring roles and you have a box-office tearjerking movie - it‘s always more real when it‘s not stereotyped, don‘t you think?

And who would want to be a stereotype when you can be just like you and me?
When an issue affects someone like you and me, it brings the matter home more effectively, or so you would think.

That must be the reason why the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality in South Africa receives the staggering sum of R1800 per month (figure from women on women) from the huge glbt community here: because not one of us has issues, except the glossy pornographic kind.

We‘re all happy being legally single and doing nothing to change that.

Odd then, that two men in our province of KwaZulu-Natal are attempting to follow the US couple‘s lead in becoming husband and husband, to have and to hold and all that.

You have to hand it to them for spotting an important issue in the middling contentment of what we believe to be accepting society.

So do give them a hand. Or better yet, lend a hand (satin glove with diamanté detail optional) to you and me, because it would be nice if we could get it.