As part of Pride Week 2017, a panel discussion held on 5 September about erasure within the LGBTQ+ , was hosted by Nkoli-Fassie, the society formerly known as OutRhodes.
The panel discussion was open to the public and aimed to spread awareness around issues faced within the LGBTQ+ community that are often not brought to the fore, or ignored completely. The panel consisted of Ms Natalie Donaldson, a Psychology lecturer, Dr Lindsay Kelland, a senior lecturer in the Philosophy Department and Sikhona Nazo, a UCKAR student and former chair of the Gender Action Project.
The discussion was opened by Ms Donaldson who spoke about how exclusion within the LGBTQ+ community can be intentional at times. “We assume that the issues facing all queer people are the same, we ignore that systems of oppression are interconnected,” she explained.
She also spoke about the intersectionality of identity and how ignorance about the diversity of people and levels of privilege in the community lead to the exclusion and marginalisation of certain people and the issues they are faced with. She went on to say, “We are not just queer people, all of us occupy various positions, some of which are more privileged than others and we don’t acknowledge those.”
Nazo discussed her personal experience of erasure, explaining how it sometimes made her question whether she was ‘queer enough’ because of the space she occupied within the community. She spoke about passing privilege being a double-edged sword because although it may protect her from some of the violence experienced by non-passing members of the community, it could also prevent her from being recognised as a member by many, including members of the community.
The talk worked to bring visibility and recognition of humanity that is often denied to people through erasure and violence within the community. Dr Kelland discussed the necessity of recognising individuality within the queer community and how the conceptual understanding needs to be furthered. She explained, “The recognition has to be a fluid recognition, we can’t let norms box people and restrict the freedom to express how we want to be recognised.”
The floor was then opened for discussion, allowing the audience to engage and challenge one another with their opinions on a range of topics, such as the process of becoming, the fluidity of identities, heteroflexibility and bi and transphobia.
This event allowed members of the LGBTQ+ community to share their concerns in a safe space on a platform where they would be heard. It also opened opportunities to further discourses about what it means to be a queer body in 21st-century South Africa.
To find out more about Nkoli-Fassie, visit their Facebook page: OutRhodes Society.
Words by Nokuthula Sibiya