‘Space to coexist’: Inside South Africa’s LGBT-friendly mosque:
Neatly laid out and facing Mecca, it is the colourful prayer mats arranged in a rainbow pattern that offer the first clue that the Masjid Ul-Umam mosque in Cape Town, South Africa, is not a typical place of worship.
Nearby, Tahir, a softly spoken man in his late 20s, sits between a gay imam from Zambia, a straight sheikh from Liberia and opposite a lesbian student from Ghana.
In the only African country to have legalised gay marriage, this modest-sized building is home to Africa’s first and most public LGBT-friendly mosque.
100+ LGBTQ Black Women You Should Know: The Epic Black History Month Megapost:
Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and transgender women represent a vibrant and visible portion of the LGBTQ community. In addition to the legends of the Harlem Renaissance and the decades of groundbreaking activism spearheaded by women like Audre Lorde, Barbara Smith and Angela Davis, many of the most prominent coming out stories of the past two years have been black women like Brittney Griner, Raven-Symonè, Diana King and Robin Roberts. Meanwhile, Laverne Cox and Janet Mockhave become the most visible transgender women in media.
So, in honor of Black History Month, below you’ll find over 100 lesbian, bisexual, gay, queer and transgender women you should know about. If she was still alive, the oldest person in this list would be 189 years old. The youngest person on this list is a mere 21 years of age. Like all our lists of this sort, this post aims to contain a wide variety of humans of all ages and backgrounds, from reality TV show stars (despite its numerous failings, Reality TV has been a major mainstream source of LGBTQ visibility dating back to the early ’90s) to State Representatives to actresses to game-changing activists.
Keep in mind, there are so many more prominent black LGBT women than are represented below. This list isn’t representative or comprehensive, but I did aim to include the “big names” and beyond that, present a broad and diverse range of visible women. The hardest part of making this list was that it was originally twice as long! So please feel free to share some of your heroes in the comments and we’ll have more lists like this in the future!
‘Argentina, with its first-class LGBTQ+ rights and its failure to legalise abortion, proves an uncomfortable theory about progress’:
I’m not claiming that Argentina is perfect – there is still discrimination, hate and fear, just like anywhere. But when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, it has a pretty solid track record.
So what has gone so wrong with abortion rights? Today politicians in Argentina voted to keep abortion illegal – compromising the rights of women, non-binary people and trans men, many of whom at some point in their life might need an abortion. It’s a sad day – and particularly disappointing because it shows that just because a country may be progressive in some ways, that doesn’t necessarily translate across the field – these things are rarely black and white.
It’s a reminder to us all that we should never look at a country and make judgements about policies in one area, then transfer this to all. As mentioned earlier, the US and European countries are often the first to point to how “progressive” many of their policies are – and look down on other countries that they regard as being less so. But just like Argentina really needs to work on its abortion rights, the USA really needs to sort out its racism, Denmark needs to stop being Islamophobic, the UK needs to get its act together when it comes to disabled rights, to give just a few examples – and all of these places could look to Argentina and learn how to treat LGBTQ+ people much better.
Zimbabwe’s LGBT community: why civil rights and health issues go hand in hand:
Zimbabwe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa was asked during a recent interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos whether his country might change its stance on sexual minorities.
He replied that the law would continue to prevail, saying:
“In our Constitution it is banned – and it is my duty to obey my constitution.”
He then went on to say that “those people who want it [decriminalisation] are the people who should canvass for it.”
This sort of tacit acknowledgement of LGBT people as a group that could advocate for their rights and inclusion offers a glimmer of hope. After all, Mnangagwa’s predecessor offered no space at all for sexual minorities to argue their case. Perhaps change may yet come to Zimbabwe’s LGBT community – and to the country’s laws.