On Campus lecture

April 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Purdue LGBTQ hosted a film festival that displayed different films on lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered people and their different challenges they face. There were many popular movies that were available for viewing but I chose to watch “Difficult Love” as my on campus lecture. The main character of this film was Zanele Muholi who is an inspirational photographer and visual activist that grew up in Umlazi, KZN. She discusses the difficult challenges of coming out as a lesbian in her life being in an African country that does not accept lesbians. Zanele also visits different lesbian friends and people she has met through out her journey and shows their perspective of being a lesbian in a country that does not accept them. Zanele is very brave about her sexuality and wants to show the world that it is not a bad thing, but the people in her country do not approve.

Zanele Muholi grew up in a normal setting with friends and family who had regular lives, but the society looks at her now as having a distorted life because this is going against the African tradition of a woman and man being together. Muholi is a photographer that creates radical images that are not of the social norm to society. Many of her pictures are of lesbians or gay men posing how usually a man and woman would pose. In one scene of the film, Muholi goes out into public with some of her photographs of the women or men to see the reaction the community has. One woman stated that, “This is not right and that it is a virginity tester.” She also stated that being a lesbian was for the white culture and it is tainting the african american culture. Seeing two women posing together in a sexual position is what was displayed in Zanele’s pictures and what rattled the South African social norms. 

One part of the film that was very interesting to me was when one of the scholars talks about Muholi’s photograph of two african american men posing in women’s clothing. This was a controversy for the society because it broke their social norm. The scholar also stated that people say lesbian or gays choose to be gay, but when did the heterosexual people choose to be heterosexual. I believe this a valid point because the society thinks people choose to become something that is not of the norm, but in reality this is the way they are and we can not change that. 

Some of the other lesbians displayed in the film are very comfortable with their sexuality. Viola May is very outspoken and is photographed by Zanele. She talks about having a baby and that the process is lonely but wants to experience the birth of a child in her life. Another set of women in the movie are people who were kicked out of a homeless shelter for being lesbians. Zanele visits them from time to time and in the film we see how they are happy together and do not need any one but each other in order to be happy. The government can not hurt these people any more and as the film starts to develop more, Zanele starts to become more vulnerable to the topic because she can not believe how people treat others who believe in a different sexuality. 

The people of South Africa who were interviewed through out this film believe that being gay or lesbian is evil and not the right thing to do. They say that someone can kill you because it is not the African tradition to be a lesbian. One woman in the film was raped by a man because she was a lesbian. They believe that if a woman is a lesbian and a man has sex with her that will change them to be heterosexual. The men think the  lesbian women will take their girlfriends away from them and feel as though they are mocking their patriarchy,

Zanele Muholi is displaying the lesbian community as a positive thing through her art work. South Africa has a very strong opinion that a man and a woman need to be together. The people of South Africa need to accept that people do not feel the same and should not be punished for what they feel. This film was inspirational for me being Zanele is trying to show what she believes is normal and should not be looked down upon. 

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