Drawing from my own experiences as a gay man, Theshen Naicker’s story of homophobia is one that resonates with myself and others in the LGBTQiA community.
I found life to be simple when I was younger and then by the time I was around 9 years old I confronted my little secret that I was gay. Of course at that age and being an eighties child in an Indian family the word gay was never spoken of even if you knew what it meant.
I grew up observing the world with caution always questioning everything and made my way through the complex corridors of sexuality understanding that the world did not accept ‘moffies’. It was through TV that many of us ‘gays’ got our first exposure to regular gay characters. Heavens to betsy for the dashing Imran Vagar who made our hearts flutter whenever he sashayed over to a gourmet meal and went ‘MMMMMM’.
Homosexuality remained a conversation strictly off limit topic around Indian families, but in this world, I had came to understand the idea of individual freedom, of personal choices whether it’s paganism or being someone who like someone of the same-sex. I had a place in society and I knew I would assume my identity and use it to help others that needed support.
It all starts with calling someone a ‘moffie’
I recall when Viasen Soobramoney filed a disturbing story in the ‘Post’ newspaper over an alleged hate-crime. ‘Post’ reported on a case of murder of Mohit Maharaj was killed under curious circumstances. It was also reported that Maharaj may have been murdered for being gay but this case went cold and Mohit Maharaj’s death was never solved although many of us younger gay kids knew exactly what happened to him.
And in my day, you simply weren’t allowed to be gay. Terrible things happened to people who were gay (and still do), but back then even a playful bit of effeminacy would trigger jibes of “faggot” and “gaandu”.
Another friend of mine was raped when he was younger and today he has used what happened to him to rise up and stand out as a savvy businessman who’s out and proud about himself.
Many others drown in shame leading to unhappy lives and most consider taking their lives instead of rising up. I have lost many friends to homophobic abuse but today is NOT the day we will allow it to happen to Theshen Naicker.
Earlier we reported on the matter of Theshen Naicker aka #AuntySheila and an altercation that occurred with a ‘foodie enthusiast.’ It is alleged that Naicker was manhandled and called a series of unwanted names including ‘moffie.’
Perpetuating a cycle of abuse like this leads to much larger and deadly situations for other victims, some of which never make the papers or a police docket.
The situation was further exacerbated on social media when users exposed the alleged assailant leading to a frank conversation on how homosexuals within the Indian community are treated.
The alleged assailant stands by his version of events adding fuel to fire by stating that Naicker sought publicity through the incident. The alleged assailant also alleges that Naicker’s version is untrue.
When I questioned him over his position on homosexuality, the alleged assailant could not form a series of sentences together to answer my question: Are you a homophobe?
This made things rather clear to me that Naicker’s allegations do carry weight.
I shudder to think of what else could have happened to Naicker if his colleague did not step in. Theshen Naicker is well known within the social media circle for his extravagant alter ego Aunty Sheila. The character of ‘Aunty Sheila’ has become a household name in South Africa and other parts of the world resonating with the Indian community on various topics.
The real danger comes from these so-called public figures like the foodie enthusiast is that they show off with a façade of correctness, only to let their demons come out where they cause real damage. The foodie enthusiast’s demons tumbled out of the sari blouse closet the moment he laid hands on Naicker pinning him on a wall labeling him a ‘moffie.’
While we wait for the courts to decide on the issue, the public has voiced their support for Naicker. Thousands on social media are calling for justice for Naicker who has remained silent on only leaving this message for his fans.
We can choose to rise up and make an example of homophobic behavior or we can allow our future LGBT remember us as the ‘moffies’ who did nothing. I choose to do something about it and let’s hope that more can be done to stamp out homophobia. Who knows, you might be gay or your child is planning to come out to you. What are you going to do?
WTF is hate speech?
“The qualifying criteria for hate speech must now include a clear intention to be harmful or to incite harm or promote or propagate hatred “on the basis of age, albinism, birth, color, culture, disability, ethnic or social origin, gender or gender identity, HIV status, language, nationality, migrant or refugee status, race, religion, or sex, which includes intersex or sexual orientation”.
Section 10 of the Act, the Prohibition of Hate Speech, reads: “No person may publish, propagate, advocate or communicate words based on one or more of the prohibited grounds, against any person, that could reasonably be construed to demonstrate a clear intention to be hurtful, be harmful or to incite harm [and/or] promote or propagate hatred.”
For now we wait until we’re legally allowed to identify the assailant and look forward to Naicker’s next move.
- Homophobia: Theshen Naicker looking for ‘publicity’ says alleged attacker
- Calling me a faggot is not okay, says Naufal Khan
- Devi Munisami to face the music in the Equality Courts over ‘faggot’ comment
If you have been a victim of online LGBT hate speech you can report it to the Love Not Hate campaign or report the incident anonymously via South Africa’s first LGBT hate crime reporting site.
WHAT IS: Homophobia is “the irrational hatred, intolerance, and fear” of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
These views are expressed through homophobic behaviours such as negative comments, bullying, physical attacks, discrimination and negative media representation.
As well as the actions of individuals, homophobia may be expressed through actions of the state, such as punitive laws, as well as other social institutions. Some LGBT people may internalise negative attitudes towards same-sex attraction, this is called self-stigma.