Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Finalist in the 2010 Bloggies!

I'm a finalist in the 2010 Bloggies and have been nominated for "Best African Blog"

Voting closes on 31 January 2010!

Please cast your vote by clicking here!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Suburbia, Porn & Bubble Wrap

The last few days were spent in a semi-controlled chaos decorated with boxes, bubble wrap and unfamiliar keys. We finally managed to move into our new house and are now officially Stepford Fags living in suburbia. Even though the whole move was planned weeks in advance and all arrangements and preparations was in place, life has taught me one important lesson – no matter how well prepared you are, there will always be something that goes wrong!
Having 3 neurotic cats, that are highly strung and do not take well to change, the move would be traumatic for them. Knowing this I paid a visit to our veterinarian to get some magic potion that would ease the transition for our 3 furry bundles of joy. I received 3 syringes containing bright yellow fluid and was promised this would calm them down and put them in a deep sleep that would last roughly 8 hours. The morning of the move hubby and I woke up at 6am in order to dispense the medication. Anyone that has ever given medication to a cat will tell you it’s a skill! We decided to separate the 3 and we would work as a team, one tightly holding a cat while the other would open the cat’s mouth and squirt in the medication. Sounds simple enough but it wasn’t, 20 minutes and many scratches later all 3 were “medicated”.
As our cats’ medicine started to kick in and they were stumbling around in a drunken haze, we prepared the house for the movers. Naturally we picked a moving company with the gayest name we could find – Gigi! Expecting them to only arrive at 8am we thought we had plenty of time to prepare, but they were early and annoyingly efficient! We left the packing of the bedroom for last, as we didn’t want to upset the cats prematurely. When the movers arrived they worked at such a fast pace that we ended up frantically dumping everything that was left in the bedroom into the remaining boxes. At this point it also became clear that the cats’ dosages weren’t strong enough as they were not sleeping. The smallest one (the Diva!) was not going to have any of this and violently refused her cooperation to the great disinterest of the other 2 who were both very chilled out only voicing their confusion and discontent every so often with an off pitched and slurred meow and a one eyed glazed stare.
Two and a half hours later and the move were completed. We were surrounded with boxes that needed unpacking, a mammoth task especially if you aren’t sure where to put everything. The better part of the day was spent opening boxes, cleaning, moving around furniture and trying to calm down 3 critters that were sobering up and not happy. Allot of sweat and a few silent breakdowns later our first evening arrived at which time we decided to take a break and just take it all in. Tired as hell we both fell onto our couches wanting to unwind in front of the television at which point we learned our satellite dish was not working. Too tired to care we had a nice bottle of wine next to the pool and went to sleep in our curtainless bedroom with our hung over cats.
Early the next morning we were awoken by the sounds of suburbia preparing for its day and birds welcoming the early morning sun. After a brief breakfast we continued slaving away. More boxes, more bubble wrap! I phoned a repair company to fix our satellite dish and they arrived a few hours later. I was informed that something on the dish was fried. While they were busy with their little gadgets, hubby and I tackled the remaining boxes. On completion of the repairs the technician and his assistant called me and started to demonstrate where all the different channels were saved and where to find all our additional entertainment systems on our television. However, when he came to the DVD player I discovered, to my horror, we had forgotten a DVD in there. A Porn DVD was now being broadcasted on our 21 inch screen to an audience of very shocked and embarrassed people. The technician quickly changed channels, mumbled something and exited the lounge where I was left blushing with his assistant who by now had taken a few steps away from me. After the technician had composed himself he returned gave me my invoice, I paid him and pretended like nothing happened. However, I am sure all his friends and colleagues have been told this story by now.
Over the weekend most of our unpacking was done. Holes were drilled, picture frames and art went onto the walls and the house started to feel like home. Our cats slowly acclimatized to their new surroundings and grudges about being drugged and uprooted soon became a distant memory as they settled into their new routine. I am still struggling to figure out which key unlocks what door and going to bed at night now takes 10 minutes longer as we have thousands of doors to lock. Much still needs to be done, and renovations will continue for some time to come, but like a friend told me “Once you buy a house the work never ends”. For now we will tackle one renovation job at a time, put allot of love into each project and slowly watch our new home bloom. I am sure there will be many more frustrations, embarrasments and tantrums but all will be worth it at the end!

Till next time.

Ellen Degeneres - Here & Now

Monday, January 18, 2010

Deceived by Monsters

The Internet has become such an integral part of all our lives that very few of us can do without it. It has made our daily lives easier and the world accessible to all. Social Networking Sites has also become a tool used by many to stay in touch with friends and family, meet new people and maybe even find that all elusive soul mate. However, with the good also comes the bad: Some people use the Internet with malicious intent, some are predators feeding off the gullible and others want to satisfy their own demented fantasies leaving a trail of virtual victims in their data tracks. This led me to ask: Do we really know who we are chatting to on the other side of our Internet cable?
Last week I reported on the suicide of a person that was one of my Facebook friends. We chatted a few times, he had mentioned wanting to come out of the closet and sometime during December 2009, whilst doing “cyber housekeeping”, I deleted him as a friend as I had reached my friend limit on that site. Learning of his suicide I was devastated as is evident from my blog post “Rather Have a Gay Child than a Dead Child?”. The issue of gay teen suicide has long been a matter of grave concern and an issue very dear to me. By Friday it was revealed that the whole thing was a hoax. By Saturday it was confirmed through the media. I was shocked, angry, felt abused and also embarrassed for being gulable and deceived to this extend. The perpetrator of this hoax had made a mockery of teen suicide, tarnished the image of the gay community and damaged the integrity of my blog!

From reports it was learned that the profile was fake and possibly as many as 3 other profiles are linked to the same account. This amount to 4 profiles (possibly more) all managed by the same person who nobody knows, have ever met and the motive behind the hoax and future malevolent endeavours of this person is anybody’s guess. Over 1200 people we distraught with grief, including myself. Over 1200 people were lied to and upset over the “suicide” of a very convincing and totally fictional character.
This is nothing new as many people misrepresent themselves on the Internet: The old socially maladjusted overweight guy posing as a twenty year old hunk, the fourteen year old girl pretending to be 18, the sexual offender looking for his next victim. We all know they are out there, and chances are you have chatted to one of them. The anonymity the Internet provides makes it very easy for any person to create a whole different persona for themselves – the person they wish they were or the shadow that lurks in the deepest disturbing fantasies they no longer can or have to suppress. In this virtual realm they can say and do things they would never do in the real world. They can live vicariously through their alter ego and when they tire of it just discard it or in this case kill it off. However, not all such instances are innocent and some of these individuals pose a severe threat.
It is well known that paedophiles prowl around in Chat Rooms and Social Networking Sites, patiently enticing their potential victims into their web with attractive lies. They gain their victims trust and before long the damage is done and a child is hurt. The frightening aspect is that some victims never even know they have been done any harm. I learned of a paedophile that pretended to be the same age as his victims and convinced them to send him pornographic photos of themselves all of which ended up on several child pornography websites. Once these images are on the web there is no way of stopping its distribution after it has been downloaded! This does not only happen to children and many adults have been victimized in the same manner.
The virtual dating scene is another sea of data to be sailed with caution. Who’s to say the profile picture you see is indeed the person you will meet? How much can one really learn about another person just from e-mails and online chatting? I know of a few people who have met the love of their lives on the Internet, and yes I am sure there are many success stories. However, horror stories are also abundant. It’s easier for some people to communicate over the Internet and have a whole relationship that includes cybersex with another person. The fantasy of a perfect partner sustain these relationships but once the relationship is brought into reality it soon disintegrates as pressures of the real world and real needs burns away the illusion. Some discover truths about their online partner’s shady past too late, some people gained stalkers instead of lovers, and some people received regret instead of love.
I too now have my own Internet horror story of deception and embarrassment. For some reason I believe, deep down, we want to trust people and believe what they say is true. Does this make us gullible? Maybe it does! We sometimes forget as we enter the virtual world real human beings also venture there with us and we can’t see them as they truly are. In some instances only a computer screen, keyboard and an internet connection stands between us and monsters.

Till next time.

The Perils Of Internet Dating

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sour Grapes - The Fruit Of Ignorance: Growing Pains

A truly exceptional and frank blog post by one of my role models in the South African GLBT Community. This is an honest and revealing portrayal of the journey of a transgendered person on the sometimes difficult road and metamorphosis into who she really was meant to be.

Sour Grapes - The Fruit Of Ignorance: Growing Pains

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rather Have a Gay Child than a Dead Child?

This past weekend tragedy struck. I was informed early Monday morning that a friend with whom I had occasional contact committed suicide. He decided to Come Out to his parents and family on Sunday and this was not well received. He then wrote a poem and published it on Facebook expressing his anguish. Later, Sunday evening he wrote a farewell message to all his friends, and at the age of 18 he killed himself. I am not sure exactly what transpired between him and his family that caused this heartbreak, but it begs the question all parents of gay teens should ask themselves – Would you rather have a gay child or a dead child?

Admittedly when I received this sad news I had many questions. However, I soon realized that “would haves” and “could haves” will not bring him back to life and “what if’s” will not turn back the clock. Many people say that suicide is a cowardly act, but I think until you have been to the edge of despair and imprisoned in the dark cloud of hopelessness none of us can judge. Yes, I admit that I blame his parents. Their reaction and/or intolerance could have been the final catalyst that pushed him over the edge. However, none of us know the true course of events preceding his death and the pain his parents and family must be experiencing none of us can begin to fathom. This wound will scar his family for many years to come, but let’s hope something positive will emerge from this, even if it’s just a lesson or a wakeup call for other families.

Sadly, suicides amongst gay teens aren’t uncommon. Gay youths are 2-4 times more likely to take their own lives than their heterosexual counterparts. There are many reasons for this but the top ranking reason is Family Rejection: Being still dependent on their families for both emotional and physical support, being rejected by their primary support structure could be devastating. The actual or imagined threat of being disowned, left homeless or being physically harmed by a family member could further discourage gay youths to reveal their sexual orientation; when they then do Come Out and any of these fears materializes the result could be fatal. Furthermore, the added stress of living in a society that is homophobic also place further stress on both the gay teen and their family and discrimination and ignorance underlies many instances where gay youths committed suicide.

On a social level gay teens also face several other challenges that could seem insurmountable. Apart from running the risk of being ostracised by their friends, becoming victims of bullying and/or hate crimes, even in their own religious community they may face discrimination that legitimizes homophobia. All these factors make the Coming Out process more treacherous and unappealing, forcing these teens to hide their sexual orientation from people around them. For those gay teens that have traits stereotypically associated with homosexuality hiding their sexual orientation becomes even more difficult and they are most at risk to fall pray to homophobic attacks and more likely to attempt suicide and succeed.

Luckily, many Gay Community Centres have been established to support gay people of all ages dealing with issues ranging from Coming Out to Mental Health Issues. In several countries there are also hotlines that can be phoned that provides free counselling and support not only for troubled gay teen but also for their families. However, like I have experienced this week for some help comes too late and who is to blame for this?

With my friend’s suicide I can’t help but wonder why a young man at the age of 18, about to enter the prime of his life would end it so abruptly. Yes, he may have faced some, maybe all or even more of the challenges I mentioned here. But having had access to Gay Community Centres and friends why did he not reach out and cried for help? Some would argue the poem he wrote was just that – a cry for help! Many people did see it as such and appealed for assistance which they received, yet none of it saved him. He slipped through all the proverbial cracks in what I now believe to be the flawed GLBT support structures. Maybe we have become to reliant on Community Centres to do all the work in our communities for us, maybe we have become too self-involved that a simple kind gesture of reaching out to our fellow human beings (gay and straight) have become too much of an effort, maybe we have lost our sense of empathy and humanity, just maybe all of us are to blame…

The world has lost a gentle soul. His death is a tragic one and leaves us with many unanswered questions. Questions that may never be answered, but on their reflection might just improve each and every one of us, enlighten others, help save lives and guarantee that one person’s untimely departure may leave a positive and lasting change.

Till next time...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Madness, Paint & Chandeliers

It is official, the purchase of our new home have been finalized. After literally months of searching we finally found our perfect little retreat nestled away in a beautifully treed and quiet neighborhood. The house or rather, as the real estate agent described it, “The Villa” initially had some not so pleasing elements that we decided should go as I just can’t live with pink walls, 1970’s porno ceiling beams and chandeliers straight from Dracula’s dungeon. This was just some of the cosmetic changes we had envisaged. However, after the old lady cleared out all the stuff she had accumulated during her 74 years on this planet, the canvas changed horrifically and I was left asking: What have we let ourselves in for?

For some bizarre reason I decided to be a Good Samaritan last week and help the old lady move out of our newly purchased home. You see she’s old and only had her daughter to help her with the mammoth task of clearing out the house that ended up filling 2 truckloads to the rim with over 400 boxes and furniture that could fill a museum. Luckily, the movers were efficient and my role was only a supervisory one but it took 9 hours that I will never get back. Once only the skeleton remained it was time for her to say farewell. We had to arm the alarm and leave. Sounds simple, but it wasn’t. We had to go through the motion 4 times, as we only had 60 seconds to get out. The 1st attempt we made it to the lounge where she broke down in tears, with the alarm screaming I consoled her, disarmed the alarm and tried again. The 2nd attempt we made to the kitchen, the 3rd attempt we almost cleared the pool area. Only on the 4th attempt did we succeed. After just over 20 years living in that house she had a deep emotional investment in every brick, stone and plant which made parting with 2 decade’s worth of memories understandably difficult and for this I did had empathy for her.
The next day hubby and I went to inspect our new property. It’s amazing how furniture can disguise ugly flaws. With the home now bare and the naked truth revealed, hubby and I were standing in the lounge trying not to hyperventilate and with the pink room spinning the realization sank in – the house is going to need a lot of work and it wasn’t going be cheap! I didn’t know whether to cry or throw up, I think I did a little of both. After the initial shock wore off we devised a plan of action. We needed to paint and get new light fixtures. Pink would be replaced with a tranquil and pale grayish blue and the beams from hell would be painted white, hopefully this would make them less obtrusive to my now very frail psyche. The same day we interviewed a contractor to do the painting. He smelled of alcohol and had a very smooth mouth but the selling point was he was cheap and thorough when he’s sober. So he was hired.
Early the following morning I received a call from my father-in-law saying that we were going shopping for paint and equipment. Arriving at the DIY store, hubby gave me the code for the paint we decided on over the phone. We searched every paint sample in the whole store but could not find a match. Later, after a short fight over the phone, I realized I wrote down the wrong code and the paint was found. Father-in-law was extremely patient and helpful and the fact that I was highly strung and behaving like hot-wired bitch did not faze him. All the equipment and paint was selected and hubby and I went back later that afternoon to purchase everything. By this time we already had about 3 miniature fall outs over stupid things.
The contractors started painting and as the pink started disappearing and the ugly beams became camouflaged the house was slowly transforming into something livable. Shopping for light fixtures was next on the list. We decided on brushed steel as the theme. Going from shop to shop and short momentarily fits of madness and some bickering we thought we would end up living with candles – we could not find anything we both liked. Had we been on a reality show the ratings would have shot through the roof as some of our public squabbles, insisting staff brings us step ladders in order to measure things and two blond gay guys inspecting lights as if it was the most important historical artifact in the history of mankind must have been hilarious. Eventually, to the great relief of many shop assistants I am sure, we came to a compromise on 6 out of the 7 items, not bad considering both hubby and I are stubborn and customers from hell.
With our bank balances taking strain and our bank manager happily rubbing his little greedy hands together while smiling we are not even close to what we want to have done. Being quite responsible, I do realize that only truly rich people can do a full renovation of a property all at once. For us normal folk we have to settle with doing what you can when you can afford it. Our big move is scheduled for next week, which is a whole other nightmare as no moving company has provided us with a quote yet and the clock is ticking! Worst case scenario – we will have to do it ourselves. Oh the horror of carrying heavy appliances down a flight of stairs… From my experience thus far I have reached an epiphany regarding relationships and real estate: A couple that can renovate together and still stay together in all probability will remain together forever.

Till next time.

Lady Gaga - Bad Romance

Monday, January 4, 2010

"Mad" Air to Paradise.

2009 was without a doubt a long and difficult years. Therefore, during August I decided that hubby and I needed a holiday destination that was remote, beautiful and affordable. We needed to go to an island! So my search began for the perfect location. Every spot I found either was too populated, too expensive or really rural, and we don’t do the roughing it thing. Finally, I heard about the Coup d'etat that happened in Madagascar during January 2009 that lasted until November. My first reaction was “Fabulous, so it will be cheap!” After searching several lodges on the surrounding islands I found the perfect spot, a place called Sakatia Lodge and made my booking and so our adventure began.

On Boxing Day we were scheduled to fly to Madagascar on “Mad Air”, so nicknamed due to their lack of keeping flight schedules, lack of English and warning passengers that smoking and lying in the aisles of the plane drunk is strictly prohibited. Our flight was delayed by an hour, which was a good thing because our luggage was overweight. I was horrified as I am incapable of travelling light and every item in our luggage I viewed as absolutely essential. So we sat on the floor, redistributed some items and Voilà we ended up checking 3 bags into cargo instead of 2. Having had to also catch a national flight from Antananarivo to Nosy Be, I was seriously concerned that we would miss our 2nd flight, but was assured that they would keep our flight grounded until we arrived there. On arrival I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was exactly what they did and we made it safely to Nosy Be along with 40 other annoyed passengers who were delayed 2 hours due to us. So you can imagine the stares we got.

On arrival at Nosy Be we were transferred by taxi to the pickup spot where the boat would take us to Sakatia Island. We arrived there with a young newlywed couple, a mom and her son and a group of 13 people. While waiting for our luggage to get loaded onto one of the boats the woman asked me and my hubby whether we were there on our Honeymoon, I just giggled and told her no we have been married now for 3 years and this was just a normal holiday. I could tell some of our group was taken aback by her frank nature and we were in for some interesting times. Eventually everything was packed and we boarded our boats and set off to the Island. We were welcomed there by the couple that runs the lodge and a much needed rum cocktails. We were briefed on the workings of the lodge, then finished a delicious dinner and fell into bed to be roused the next morning by the awakening forest and the gentle sounds of waves licking the shore - we woke up in paradise!

Our 1st day was spent lounging around, swimming and snorkeling - a perfectly relaxing start. Then it was suggested we go scuba diving, something I have never done before. The dive was appropriately called “baptême de qc” French for baptism. The 2 dive masters would do practically everything for us; the only thing we had to do was breath and swim, sound simple enough. However, once I hit the water and got strapped into my scuba gear the 1st thing that went through my mind was “O God, am I really going to do this?” Descending to the 2 meter drop was hysterical to watch. I was bopping around, first on my back almost hitting my head on the bottom of a boat then on my stomach and keeping vertical seemed impossible. Eventually the one dive master took over and I successfully made it to the bottom. Once there I was relaxed and completely enthralled with the wonderland below the surface that so few people get to appreciate. After an hour of diving I returned to the surface hooked on the sport, and we had a second dive later. The only drawback of the 2 dives was that my left year got blocked and I was practically deaf in that ear. So every now and again I had to remind hubby and other people to speak into my “good ear” if they wanted any chance of coherent conversation.
On our 2nd night a British woman and her friend arrived at the lodge that had a striking resemblance to Meryl Streep and she was aptly nicknamed “Meryl”. The next day we were scheduled to visit Nosy Komba (Lemur Island) and go snorkeling on Nosy Tanikely (a Marine Reserve) to swim with wild sea turtles. It would be a short drive to the harbor and then 3 boat trips. On our way to the harbor we made a stop in Hellville in order for some folk to change currency. I was under the impression we would visit a bureau de change and we did, it just was not what I expected. We visited a human ATM who climbed into our taxi with her purse, it was odd and I later heard it was also illegal. While the human ATM was doing her thing I took a short walk through Hellville and counted up to 6 chickens being slaughter right on the sidewalk. I guess they don’t call it Helville for nothing and chickens, ducks and zebus can attest to this!

While waiting for our boat to Lemur Island, hubby said he needed to pee, after enquiring from both our guide (Kiki) and the police I had to inform hubby there were no toilets and he would have to hold it. The 45 minute boat ride was pure torture for him and seconds after the boat hit the shore he sped off and returned to the group much more relieved. Lemur Island was fascinating, we got to feed the Lemurs, saw their indigenous chameleons and I even faced my fear and held a snake. The only bad thing was the heat. I was sweating like a fat chicken in Hellville, and was dumbfounded by some of the other tourist who was walking around with long sleeve shirts and jeans. After some shopping we left for the 2nd Island. An hour later we arrived and were amazed to discover the most beautiful and unspoiled beach. We could not wait to get our snorkeling gear on and find those turtles. I didn’t have to search far before I spotted my 1st wild sea turtle. They are amazing and graceful creatures and I was completely mesmerized and spent the next few hours swimming with them. We had a short but delicious picnic on the beach that included some uninvited guests and these lizards really seemed to enjoy the rice. We then headed back to Hellville where we were returned to our Island by boat and spoiled with the most breathtaking sunset.
On New Year’s Eve the theme at our lodge was black and white. The lodge was nicely decorated and everyone was in the mood for a party, and needless to say the champagne was flowing. After a feast that included crayfish, huge langoustines and much more we were ready for the countdown to 2010. As 2009 ended and well wishes for 2010 was concluded the natural thing to do was go skinny dipping, which the majority of the lodge did, this is also how I lost my pants. Whether I misplaced it or it was hidden still remains a mystery. As they say, what happens on Sakatia stays on Sakatia.

The next morning, being slightly hangover hubby and I found some relieve with Bloody Marys and the rest of the day was lazed away in the warm and calm water. This would be our last day there and we were sad to leave. That evening, while packing our bags, we reminisced on all our great experiences and vowed to return. As our final flight departed and I looked out of the window watching the island I have now become so fond off become smaller in the distance I knew that the experience has left me relaxed, gave me a new energy and a positive outlook for the year to come. Sakatia Island (Cat Island) and Sakatia Lodge was just what the doctor ordered and I hope to be back there soon.

Till next time.

The Obligation to Happiness - by Timothy Guerreschi

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Top 20 Gay Moments of 2009

Here are the USA Top 20 Gay Moments of 2009 courtesy of OURsceneTV.

Happy new year! I am sure we will all have a fabulous 2010!!

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