Can someone at the Times Sunday explain why their reporters attended a restaurant ‘in disguise’ in order to spy on a couple of women who were about to declare their love for one another?
The Times Sunday reports today (30 August 2009) about Thuli Rudd and her partner Pitseng Vilakati, had gathered their friends and family together at what the newspaper calls a ‘trendy restaurant’ and declared that they were to marry one another.
The reporters for some reason unexplained had secreted themselves at the restaurant in order to spy on the two women, described by the newspaper as ‘lesbians’.
Once the declaration of love was over the reporters declared their identities.
The newspaper reports, ‘Journalists who were in disguise also had the opportunity of witnessing and capturing the event, however after all was said and done the journalists then revealed their identity and the couple did not have a problem as they officially welcomed them and posed for us and properly gave us a taste of lesbian love.’
The newspaper then goes on to give lurid details of how the couple might react together in bed.
I have written before about how the Times Sunday treats lesbians as if it were something for straight male readers to drool over and more generally, how news media in Swaziland use hate speech to demonise homosexuality.
The decision for two people of the same sex to marry ‘will no doubt get the tongues wagging,’ the Times Sunday says and the newspaper has certainly done its bit to encourage this.
Elsewhere in Swaziland, King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has been telling his subjects he wants his kingdom to become a ‘first world’ country. If the treatment of homosexuality is anything to go by, Swaziland has a long way to go before it reaches this state.
By a coincidence of timing, at about the same time the two women were declaring their love for each other I was in a first world country at the other side of the world witnessing the positive side of gay and lesbian life.
Yesterday in Manchester, UK, I was one of the thousands of people of all backgrounds – men, women and children; straight, gay, bi, transgender; old, middle aged and young – who thronged the streets to see the annual Manchester Pride parade.
More than 80 organisations took part demonstrating just how many gay and lesbian people there are in society.
The parade that took about two hours to pass the spot where I stood featured among others gays and lesbians from the fire service, health service, teachers, civil servants and prison service. There were gay football, rugby and water polo players. I saw mothers, fathers, sons, daughters.
Gays and lesbians from all three of the UK’s major political parties were there as were gays and lesbians from churches and other faith groups. The biggest contingent was from the police force. There were so many coppers that people in the crowd near me were actually asking one another ‘Do you think they’re all gay?’
The answer of course is: Yes.
Just over 40 years ago homosexuality was decriminalised in England and the people of this country started on a long road to tolerating difference. Before 1967 when the law was changed if such a parade would have been possible (it wouldn't have) and you’d asked the question, ‘They can’t all be gay?’ the answer from the crowd would have been: No. The crowd would have been wrong. Before 1967 it had to be hidden because it was illegal, that’s the difference.
Now back to Swaziland. I don’t have ‘evidence’ but my intuition tells me there are many more gays in Swaziland than people generally believe – but they are hidden.
The Times Sunday could do us all a favour and stop sensationalising homosexuality and start a reasoned discussion on how to welcome gays into society.
As one of the T-shirts at the Manchester Pride parade had it: We’re Gay. Get Used to It.