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The Equality Clause in South Africa’s much-celebrated 1996 Constitution predominantly provided protection for gay, lesbian and bisexual members of the LGBTIAQ community who conform to heterosexual norms, like marriage.
Transgender, intersex and queer people were largely left out of this equation.
PATRIARCHY INTERNALISEDIn South Africa, where I live and conduct my research homonormativity and exclusionary practices pivot on many lines: race, gender, sexual identity and gender identity expression, disability, and class.
For instance, heterosexual men are expected to perform their gender in a particular way, being strong and muscly, emotions in check, and unlikely to explore a greater range of emotions that may be deemed too feminine lest they be thought of as “not a real man”.
It enforces the gender binary and its accompanying gender stereotypes.
In this way it not only hurts those who aren’t heterosexual.
The initial unpublished data shows that white gay men, in particular, police each other in these spaces.
Some explicitly refuse to chat with “fats” – larger-bodied gay men – and “femmes”, gay men who are more feminine in presentation and expression.
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Then they need to speak out when LGBTIAQ people are excluded, spoken of and treated as “other” within the very community that should provide them a space of safety and belonging.