Wednesday, 22nd March — Goldsmiths
Sexual geographies are now known to be inherently bound to race and economic privileges. To put it plainly and simply, sexual, gender and identity freedom is mapped across the world in direct accordance to the certain privileges areas permit. The word areas is consciously used over countries - as freedom of sexual and gender expression isn’t just bound to a country’s accepting or opposing structures, instead its dictation is more brutally imposed by local communities than governmental policies. Two individuals can live in the same city yet experience widely different access due to their race or economical status alone.
In his works, anthropologist Dr Bryce Lease uses the Miss Gay Western Cape (MGWC) pageant held annually in Cape Town as an entry point to examine how such parameters affect the progressive inclusion of gender and identity differences. Bryce takes the very direct relationship between post-apartheid South African national identity and global LGBTQI rights. He sheds a somewhat provocative light on how the MGWC reversely (and consciously) advocates restrictive rules around gender and sexuality whilst at the same time producing a space to re-articulate the transformative potentials around these categories.
By taking an example of progressive sexual difference and freedom that at the same time reforms and adheres to limitations around exchange of such topics, Bryce actually criticises the ways Westernised and mainstream platforms might do the same thing. Indeed it’s a leap forward for public brands to use sexual non-hegemony in global campaigns - but in doing so, how much is freedom ultimately coupled with restriction? Whilst equal rights and acceptance of the plethora of identities and genders available for individuals association are taking root in certain countries, how much do we need to continue to fight for more? Are images of androgynous models, the odd gay heroin or the very rarely present trans characters enough to tick the sexual diversity box? It might be worth considering how certain types of acceptance only further fuel notions of conformity.