Fighting to be like anybody else_The Post_2-8 April 2015

Fighting to be like anybody else_The Post_2-8 April 2015

Date: April 2, 2015
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Name of article: Fighting to be like anybody else

Name of Publication: The Post

Date: 2-8 April 2015

Country: Lesotho

Theme: LGBTI

Gem Classification: Subtle Stereotype

skill: Language

In one egregious example from Lesotho, the writer, Rose Moremoholo, profiles a gay man named Motebang Rampai. The story, headlined “Fighting to be like anybody else,” reads in some ways like an attempt to challenge negative stereotypes about gay people. At times Moremoholo is sensitive with Rampai’s story, allowing his voice to appear throughout the story. However, the writer’s mistakes with language and heterosexual bias manage to perpetuate harmful stereotypes and present Rampai as strange and “other.”

“Unlike a lot of feminine gays, who wear makeup, lipstick and woman [sic] clothes, Rampai keeps his male clothes but acts feminine,” writes Moremoholo. This example illustrates the author’s perpetuation of the stereotype that most gay men wear women’s clothes and makeup, conflating homosexuality and gender identity. Worse, she infers that Rampai’s personality is an “act” and that his “feminine” characteristics are not genuine.

The layout of the story doesn’t help: a photo of Rampai is accompanied by a photo of Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a trans woman, and Steven Monjeza, a gay man, both from Malawi. The story doesn’t mention the Malawians, now well known internationally because lawmakers sentenced them to 14 years in prison under Malawi’s anti-gay legislation. The story also features a pull quote that begins, “As much as I am girly,” once again reducing Rampai to a stereotype of the effeminate gay man.

One source who is still trying to find answers and peace regarding his sexuality cannot speak on behalf of all gay people, which is what the reporter has attempted to do. His prejudices, fears and ignorance have been presented as universal truth, further perpetuating stigma and discrimination.

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