The #Awesome50 Annual List of Awesome LGBTIQ Africans

11 OCTOBER 2018

THE AWESOME 50 ANNUAL LIST CELEBRATES INSPIRATIONAL LGBTIQ AFRICANS

Johannesburg, South Africa – The #Awesome50 Annual List of Awesome LGBTIQ Africans is a first of its kind platform aimed at celebrating, honouring and profiling LGBTIQ Africans who are doing work that benefits LGBTIQ people. The list, honours 50 LGBTIQ people who are from the African continent whose work directly and indirectly positively impacts the lives of LGBTIQ people in human rights, media, politics, corporate, social and civic development, academia, health and other areas. The list further recognises five LGBTIQ allies who’ve used their work and platform to benefit LGBTIQ people.

The #Awesome50 List is the brainchild of LGBTIQ activist, publicist and entrepreneur Motlatsi Motseoile. The List includes South African marketing guru Sylvester Chauke, actor and singer Nakhane, Feather Awards founder Thami Kotlolo and entertainer Somizi Mhlongo. Among the unsung heroes are South African AIDS Council co-chair Steve Letsike, human rights lawyer Mpho Nefuri – who has represented LGBTIQ people in hate crimes cases, and Ekurhuleni Pride organiser Ntsupe Mohale. Ensuring that the list is as diverse as possible, it has listed Botswana Transgender rights activists Katlego Kesupile-Kolanyane and Ricki Kgositau, Nigerian human rights defender Pamela Adie and Kenyan journalist Denis Nzioka, among others. The project further recognises five LGBTIQ allies who include Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, Dr Sindi van Zyl and Business Leadership South Africa CEO Bonang Mohale.

“The rights of LGBTIQ Africans have come under threat in recent years and forced many of us to hide or run from what is close and familiar. It has forced many LGBTIQ people to stand up, shout and be heard, if not for the queer community, then only for themselves. It is important for us as a community to then speak the names of these heroes and icons, to celebrate and thank them for their tireless and heroic efforts and ongoing work. This list is only the apex of what needs to be done to thank and honour those who have laid down their lives for us to even be able to have this list, be present in media, politics and other spaces in greater society and leadership. As we celebrate #PrideMonth it is important to do so by honouring these Africans who have stood up, to ensure that we are proud, by just living their lives in brave, bold and proud manners. To each listed African and to the allies, I personally thank them” – Motlatsi Motseoile, curator

The list is supported by UberPride, an employee resource group at Uber Sub-Saharan Africa which aims to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion and diversity within the company. The list is the culmination of a process of selection and consultation with the LGBTIQ community. It represents a wide group of LGBTIQ activists in a diverse selection of industries, practices and regions. Representation on the list includes South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana.

We believe the world is brighter, more colourful, more productive, more creative, and happier when each of us can be authentic to who we are. UberPride advocates to build intersectional, supportive, and empowering communities—within Uber’s workplace and across the cities we serve” said UberPride’s Ross Adami.

The Awesome50 Annual List will be published on 20 October 2018 online – www.theawesome50.africa.

You can access the names AWESOME 50 FINAL LIST – 10.10.18 (1).

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For Media Requests, Profiles and Interviews

Motlatsi Motseoile

Curator: The Awesome 50 Annual List

motlatsi@fourfellows.co.za

0837097881

#PrideMonth – Why, now than ever, we need Allies to ‘come out’

Even though international sources recognise East African media as one of the most vibrant in the continent, LGBTQI voices are virtually put in the back-burner – to only be used for hits, to distract from issues, to generate comments, or for caricature.  Even more non-existent are “ally” voices – persons who, though not identifying as LGBTIQ, are equally important, in conversations around sex, and sexuality.

An ally is someone who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, and LGBTIQ social movement, and challenges the hetero-normative, patriarchal, capitalist, and other interlocking systems of oppression that continue to put down, silence, and shame LGBTIQ persons for who they are, among other injustices.

Allies believe LGBTIQ people face discrimination, and thus are socially, and economically disadvantaged. They aim to use their position to fight against these injustices, raise awareness on the lived realities of LGBTI persons, while promoting the human, and health rights of all persons.

An ally furthers conversations we have around LGBTQI rights – to show that the pursuit for human rights is not just something LGBTQI persons or activists are doing on their own, but they have a pool of friends, family, acquaintances who are supporting their efforts.

This year’s IDAHOT theme was ‘Alliances for Solidarity,’ and was chosen to highlight the to reach out to new partners to raise awareness of our commonalities, and build solidarity within the communities of sexual and gender minorities, as the rights of one specific group cannot be solidly secured if the rights of other groups are left unchallenged.

Allies are uniquely placed to use their spaces and platforms to discuss and promote conversations around sex and sexuality. They are uniquely positioned to inform, direct, and promote open dialogues wherever they are. By doing so, they can respond to some of the reservations that the general population may have on SOGI/E and LGBTQI. They are the main drivers the front runners of these debates. And so they can relate to whoever they speak with.

Everybody deserves to live free from discrimination and violence.  Everybody deserves to grow up being cared for by their families, to have the fighting chance that education provides, to be able to express themselves as they see fit.  None of us would dispute that–except when it comes to those who may identify as being gay or trans.

If you are gay or trans in East Africa, your families may disown you.  You may be thrown out of school.  You may be forced into inappropriate, violent–and lasting–psychiatric or medical processes–that treat you as though you are crazy.  Or take away your choice about your bodily expression.

It is our collective responsibility to stand up for and alongside those East Africans who identify as gay or trans.  There are those who already doing so, and they do not identify as gay or trans – they are your everyday down-to-earth-saints.  We salute their courage which we hope will inspire all East Africans to do the right thing as well.  It is long overdue.