Monday, November 24, 2008

Power of the pink rand, contd

I read some research today which backs up what we believe about the power of the pink rand/dollar/pound (insert your currency here). The research is flawed in that it's mainly male-oriented, but I think it's also interesting in a generalised kind of way, especially because it is entirely South African.

Below, I quote directly from an article on the research findings:

"Demographics show that 89% of respondents are white; 4.81% Coloured; 3.78% Indian and 2.41% black. The bulk of these respondents - 46.39% - are between the ages of 25 and 34.

Education and employment

Mapped against AMPS, a gay person is 12 times more likely to have a post-matric qualification than his/her heterosexual counterparts. Some 73% of respondents are employed full-time, usually in the professional, managerial or administrative sectors. 18.21% are self-employed.

Ebersohn highlights the fact that the respondents show an average personal income of R24,080 per month, some five times the average income in South Africa. “In many cases, we are dealing with DINKS - double income, no kids - with purchase decision making power.”


While most respondents came from Gauteng (64.60%) and the Western Cape (21.65%), the slant could be seen as having been influenced by media. Mapped against AMPS, this market is 20 times more likely to attend live theatre, opera and concerts; seven times more likely to go to movies and twice as likely to eat in restaurants as their counterparts.

There is also a propensity to be more active than the average in the AMPS universe, with 45.70% participating in walking/hiking; 39.52% jogging/running; 34.02% dancing; 22.68% taking part in adventure sports like skydiving and bungee jumping and even 18.56% enjoying fishing.

“This is a health-conscious market,” says Ebersohn, “who actively participate in activities that support a healthy lifestyle. Around 15% watch rugby, but there is not much appetite for boxing and wrestling.” DIY activities see a participation of 38.49% of this market, and 41.24% attend a gym. Cooking for pleasure, dining out, gardening and studying part time all feature on their list of activities, and some 47.77% take work home regularly.

According to the stats, this is a highly communicative and socially active group, with homosexuals 12 times more likely to send SMSs. Braais and dinner parties are high on the social agenda; around 67% enjoy shopping for pleasure and 54.64% read books.

The music favoured by this market is varied: They are nine times more likely to listen to hard rock; five times more likely to play heavy metal on their stereos; and many favour classical and Afrikaans music.

Shopping and travel

"Gays and lesbians in South Africa are prolific consumers," says Ebersohn. "Small electrical appliances (85.22%) and household accessories (84.19%) are high on their agenda, with furniture and large household appliances following closely."

Products bought using both cash or credit are usually from Game (84.19%), Makro (73.54%), Pick 'n Pay Hyper (72.51%) and Hi-Fi Corporation (70.10%). Incredible Connection, Hyperama/House and Home, Wetherleys/Osiers, Trade Centre follow fairly closely, with all the big name furniture brands named thereafter.

"It is interesting to note that respondents to this study showed a high propensity to use cash rather than credit," says Ebersohn. "Also that most gay and lesbian South Africans spend money on technology, verifying the modern and sophisticated lifestyles this community appears to live."

Clothing shopping is across the board, from Woolworths, Edgars, Truworths and Stuttafords through to Sportsman's Warehouse, Legit and Pick 'n Pay Clothing.

Some 97% of the samples indicate that they go away on holiday, with the prime destination being Cape Town (30.93%). Around 9% choose Durban and the same number opt to go abroad. Thailand, the USA, Italy and the UK are all favourite destinations, and 5.15% get away to African game reserves.

"This indicates that one in three of our respondents visit Cape Town, with their preferred method of travel being flying and then hiring a car on arrival," says Ebersohn.

While the study is ongoing and larger groups of respondents will be encouraged, the results so far are interesting to marketers: They demonstrate that DINKS does apply in this sector; that the community is mobile; and that this is a group that appears to be reasonably recession-proof."

So, what do you think? Agree? Disagree?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I had a fascinating conversation with a friend a few weeks back. She was telling me a story about a lesbian woman, who had recently undergone a sex-change operation (gender reassignment) and had posed with her lesbian lover for a photo shoot. A very dignified one. The interesting part is the question my friend posed. 

"Now that she has undergone the gender reassignment, is she still a lesbian?"

It's a good question. She was with a woman before the op, when they were lesbians. So, what are they now? A straight couple? And if so, how does the lesbian in the equation feel? 

I have to admit, I think I'd feel rather cheated. Being lesbian for me is all about loving women more. It's part of my identity, and its taken a long time to feel comfortable in my womym-lovin'-womyn skin. So yes, for me, I would feel cheated if my partner became a man.

I'm not trying to make light of what is no doubt a very real, and very serious and very agonising situation: I'm just saying that for me, I don't know if I could go through everything I have; come out as a lesbian with another woman as my partner, and then have to explain to the folks that I've gone straight, and so has my partner.

I feel equally sorry for the woman who marries the guy, and identifies as a straight person, only to discover that he actually wants to be a 'she'. Does this mean the wife is a lesbian? It's complex. I am sure that the partners in these difficult cases are special people, and if they chose to stand by their partner through the gender reassignment, they are no doubt ready for the consequences.

Ultimately, it's a case of live and let live. Each to their own. 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Unappreciated talent

South Africa has a lot of talented artists. We didn't used to think we did. Pre-1994 when we suddenly got legitimacy in the eyes of the world, thanks to our newfound democracy and the amazing Nelson Mandela, most of us thought anything local was inferior. In fact many of us used to try to avoid anything local. It couldn't be cool if it was local, we thought. I put this largely down to the apartheid hangover and the fact that shame was so embedded in so many of our psyche's that we just didn't have any national pride.

Things have changed in the intervening years though. Now we are partly ashamed of our political environment (it's not the same without Madiba!) but we're far more proud of our local artists. In SA terms, local truly is becoming 'lekker'. ('Lekker' - if you're not South African, means 'really nice/ cool'!)

I haven't known a lot about the South African music world, apart from what I hear on the radio. But I have come to realise in the last few months that our artists are truly under-appreciated and taken for granted. Very few of them have made it internationally. And, it's not because of a lack of talent. International appeal, in the Western world at least, seems to boil down to who you know and what you look like. And whether you've appeared on a U.S talent show or not.

The South African broadcasting regulatory body used to specify that SA radio stations play a certain percentage of local music. 10 years ago, it was a tough ask. Nowadays it's not though. So why have our artists not been given any airplay overseas (UK and US). It's certainly not that we are lacking in talent.

I love a number of our talented artists (and former artists), such as Just Jinger, Jennifer Ferguson, Juluka, Louise Carver, Tree63, Miriam Makeba, Watershed and the Melanie Lowe. I can only claim to have met and got to know one of the above: Melanie Lowe, and she is as lovely and good at what she does as she appears.

Melanie is a very determined, very talented, very driven artist who has literally been pursuing this dream since she was a young girl (when her dad bought her a guitar). She has had to fight for every opportunity she has been given and has earned her place on the SA music scene. Have a listen and see why I am a fan (this is one of her latest singles. Verrry nice!):

Monday, September 29, 2008

Good vibrations

There was a lovely moment on Saturday night, when a gay friend - who's fairly proper and not prone to disclosing anything too intimate - admitted she'd had a recent education on sex toys.
Gay girls, in South Africa at the very least, are - in my experience - rather prone to having very, very strong views on sex toys. You're either for them, or totally against. And the reason, most likely, that women are against them is that the only toy people seem to talk about is the dildo, and using this is often perceived as being anti-lesbian; or trying to emulate a straight relationship. Why, some have asked, would we want a fake penis when we don't even want the real thing?

Not a bad question, and one that I've certainly encountered a few times.

But on Saturday, my friend said a recent movie she'd seen had made her see sex toys in a different light. I think she'd actually watched Claire of the Moon (yes, I know it's old, but it was new to her) and in it, there was a debate over sex toys. The character in the film put forward the argument that sex toys were positive props in lesbian pleasure and so my friend has suddenly seen the light - hence our conversation the other night. This largely revolved around the dildo versus vibrator. My mate said she'd always equated a vibrator with a dildo, and now that she knew the difference (blame it on a lack of sex shops in SA!) she wanted to try the former with her partner. Her partner, incidentally, looked very pleased at the prospect, and I have no doubt that they will be hunting online, or in store if they dare (at the hetro-positioned Adult World we have) for a perfect vibrator that appeals to them both. Please, you can even get a vibrator that vibrates to the beat of the music on your iPod! That's when a high energy playlist is a must! :-)

My view is that as long as both partners are in agreement, experimenting is part of a healthy relationship.

This brings me to another topic, and a rather grisly one at that. Sex toys, in my view, should not be recycled across relationships. If you're involved with someone and have a tog bad full of toys, great. If you break up though, toss 'em please. They should not be the legacy of one of you. Noone really wants sloppy seconds!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fighting for our rights

A friend of mine in London emailed me tonight to ask me to post something about the situation in Iraq. Gays and lesbians are being targeted there, and in the last week or so a gay activist was gunned down in a barber's chair in Baghdad. Freedom, it seems, really is just another word for nothing left to lose.

Read what's been happening below (off the Guardian website)

"The "improved" security situation in Iraq is not benefiting all Iraqis, especially not those who are gay. Islamist death squads are engaged in a homophobic killing spree with the active encouragement of leading Muslim clerics, such as Moqtada al-Sadr, as Newsweek recently revealed.

One of these clerics, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa urging the killing of lesbians and gays in the "most severe way possible".

The short film, Queer Fear – Gay Life, Gay Death in Iraq, produced by David Grey for Village Film, documents the tragic fates of a several individual gay Iraqis. It is a truly poignant and moving documentary about the terrorisation and murder of Iraqi lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Since this film was made, the killings have continued and, many say, got worse. For gay Iraqis there is little evidence of the transition to democracy. They don't experience any newfound respect for human rights. Life for them is even worse than under the tyrant Saddam Hussein.

It is a death sentence in today's "liberated" Iraq to love a person of the same sex, or for a woman to have sex outside of marriage, or for a Muslim to give up his or her faith or embrace another religion." 

More details here

Monday, September 15, 2008

'I kissed a boy..'

A conversation with some gay boys this weekend got me thinking. I was showing off videos of a few of Katy Perry's singles. She's been at the top of the US and UK charts with "I kissed a girl" for several weeks now, and I have to admit that I love the song, despite it being tweeny fluff -  probably pitched at adolescent guys.

But us gay girls are so starved of mainstream music that we all sing along when we hear Katy, even though she's so quick to point out she only tried it with 'drink in hand' and that she dearly hopes her 'boyfriend don't mind it.'

I like to think we're evolved enough to enjoy the song, and I got a good kick out of it when I walked into a conservative Muslim-owned cafe the other day, and it was playing over the speakers!

Anyway, back to that conversation with the boys. The one commented that he didn't really see a song with the lyrics 'I kissed a boy, and I liked it' becoming a commercial success. Not if it was sung by a guy, that is!

Our homophobia is such that we allow fantasies of girl-on-girl action, but male-on-male sexual activity is still taboo to even talk about in casual straight conversation, let alone to sing about.

Why is lesbianism more acceptable? Male fantasy plays a role. The average 'bloke' would love to get between two women in the sack. Women are also more comfortable showing affection in public, and you're not deemed lesbian if you hug or kiss a girlfriend in public.

Back in the 1880's, rumours are that Queen Victoria refused to criminalise lesbianism (along with gay sex) because she didn't believe sex between women was possible. 

I don't know if that is true or not, but the belief that sex between women is not as serious or significant as hetero sex is commonplace. And so, men, in particular, feel less threatened. Especially if the women look like Katy Perry. Put two diesel dykes together and it'd be another story completely.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Would you like that 'normal' sir?

I've just returned from a most amusing dinner out at a Durban restaurant. It's a trendy pizza place (should I name it?) and it was, as I say, a most humourous evening - for all the wrong reasons!

Close friends of mine had wanted to introduce me to friends of theirs, and the couple in question was just lovely: witty and warm. They're also into their food, and when the sewerage smell started wafting towards us the first time, it was a little embarrassing. Sadly, that terrible smell continued to waft in (dominate) throughout the entire evening and the friend of a friend summed it up when he said: "Hey, shit happens!"

The second clanger of the evening was when the young blond male waiter, who obviously sensed the table was full of queens (barring me of course! I was the only real girl in the house) came to get the money. Two of us paid by credit card, which he did niftily at the table with one of those bluetooth machines. He first processed one of the queen's cards, and did not quite know what to say when it came time to ask him if he wanted it budget or straight, and so he said: "Would you like that er... normal?"

'No,' the queen answered, 'straight, please'!

I tell you what, there wasn't a straight face at the table!

Anne Heche must be green with envy!

When I read that Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi had exchanged vows at their L.A home, my immediate thought was: how must Anne have felt? Looking at the gorgeous pics, the term: ''green with envy' came to mind!

Ellen is my hero from her coming out episode in her legendary sitcom back in about 1997/8. If you've seen "Ellen: In the Beginning" you will see how she describes how she suffered, career wise, as a result of her bravery. Even Hollywood was not ready for a dyke, it seems!

That's why I was so pleased to see how lovely they both looked. I also love the fact that it was the cover story on People Magazine and it was presented in a tasteful, non-sensational manner.

Was a little surprised to see that Ellen is 50 (50 is the new 40!) and that Portia is only 35.

All I hope now, is that they manage to stay together. A gay 'divorce' is not what we need from this union. Show 'em we can do commitment! You go girls!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I do. No, I don't. Er, I dunno!

Good friends of mine are getting 'married' in England this weekend. I really wish I could have flown over for the occasion. They've been together for umpteen years - through thick and thin. They still drink champagne together on special occasions and regularly go away for mini jaunts to lovely places. Not only am I really sad not to be able to be there for the 'I do, I do' moments, I am also secretly yearning to be at a rainbow wedding! Since SA legalised gay marriage several months ago, I have not been invited to a single gay wedding.

And that's not to say I don't know any gay people: I do, honest! It's just that the gays and lesbians apparently aren't jumping to take the proverbial plunge. They're not leaping to walk down the aisle. Which begs the question: why? Is it that we are not the marrying type, or are gays and lesbians reluctant to tie the knot the heterosexual way? Is there an aversion to the concept of marriage? Or are we traditionally poor at commitment?

My personal take is that we haven't been thinking marriage, and so now that it's a possibility, we're a little taken aback. We need to take stock and get used to the notion, slowly and surely, and also make it our own. Marriage, in my books, is all-too hetro. It's also all-too biblical: a man and a woman declare their love before God. The cynic in me says that marriage among hetro's often works because kids come along and give the couples a reason to stay together! Yes, I did say that was the cynical view! Of course there are those who stay in love and have the groove, and know how to move and shake and stay attracted and remain faithful and respectful of one another. In my experience though, and judging by my straight married mates, these are few and far between. And who are we to speak? The gays are not great at staying together for life. 3-4 years is 'good'; 10 plus is a bloody miracle. Then there are the living historical figures who've attained the 20-plus milestone. Because gay years are really like doggie years. One gay year is like three or four straight years together. Don't ask me why - it just seems that way. So the 20-plus milestone is more like 30-40 years. And, no public declaration to keep them together, just love, love, love! And bloody hard work!

I digress though. Why is it that the gays and lesbians don't seem to truly settle? If I look at a fairly large handful of friends and acquaintances, quite a few seem to methodically be going through all the available options in town. Swopping and moving from partner to partner over the months and years. Do we settle for second best because of the limited pool of people? Do we settle for a warm body in our beds for a while, because it beats sleeping alone in the cold? Or are we just more honest and more realistic about partnerships and what they mean? Do we just understand that people aren't meant to be together for life?

I don't know what you think. Your experiences will define that. For me though, I think I do believe in commitment and love and honour and respect. I'd rather sleep alone that with a hot-water bottle and I do still believe there are people out there meant for us. Yes, I admit it. I am still a romantic. Does this mean I believe in gay marriage? Hmm, well, I am not sure about that. I do believe in commitment ceremonies though; in partnerships and in really gay affairs in the name of love. And I also believe in the right for everyone to choose what best works for them. Ultimately, if we can be together and love one another for a long, long time though, it doesn't matter what we call it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Her-story in the making

On January 11, 1997 television history was made. The first prime time lesbian kiss was aired on US TV in the series Relativity, and it got many tongues a-wagging. Some wagged for good reasons and some, the right wing or religious fanatics, wagged 'em tongues for all the wrong reasons. Regardless, it was a television milestone. According to, Relativity also made history for being the series that also offered the first recurring lesbian character who was a central part of the cast.

Sarah Warn of writes:

"Rhonda is played by Lisa Edelstein, who has starred or guest-starred in several television shows and movies, most recently Leap of Faith and Felicity and movies like Keeping the Faith and What Women Want. Rhonda's love interest is Suzanne, played by Kristin Dattilo who currently stars in Showtime's The Chris Isaak Show (and was Janie in the Aerosmith video for "Janie's Got a Gun").

The kiss didn't happen until the 13th episode, named "The Day the Earth Moved" because the theme of the episode revolves around earthquakes, sex, and life-changing decisions. The episode weaves several threads involving multiple characters in and out of each other in a humorous and thoughtful way, and a storyline which follows Rhonda and Suzanne's introduction, their first date (albeit an unusual one), and their first kiss. (For those who didn't see the episode, I've provided an episode recap below.)

Relativity was ground-breaking not only because of the kiss, but for the natural and almost casual way it portrayed the lesbian characters and their relationship with each other, as well as their relationships with other characters on the show. At the time, it was one of the first shows ever to treat its lesbian characters just like the other (heterosexual) characters on the show, with no attempt to sensationalize their relationship or the kiss. The lesbian characters are very likable, and they are treated with affection and supported by the other characters--for once, no one has any "issues" with their sexuality (besides Isabelle's initial surprise at her friend's sexual orientation, since Isabelle had only known her to date men previously).

Also unusual was the show's casual use of the words "lesbian" and "dyke" (in a positive way) in conversation among the characters--another television first (and unfortunately still not that common today).

This episode, like the series, was also a consistent mix of funny, sweet, and serious, with complex characters and an entertaining and realistic storyline.

The series only lasted a few more episodes after this one before being cancelled by ABC due to low ratings--despite considerable critical acclaim--bringing the final total to 17 episodes. None of the subsequent episodes featured the relationship between two women except the last one, in which Leo and Rhonda's grandfather has a heart-attack, and Suzanne accompanies Rhonda to the hospital, where she is introduced by Rhonda to the doctor as "my lover."

Conservative Christians and other critics were up in arms when this episode debuted. Tim Wildmon, Vice-President of the American Family Association (AFA) issued a press release at the time denouncing the kiss on Relativity and criticizing the series for taking television "where it has never gone before" by showing "caressing, nuzzling and passionate, open-mouthed kissing" between two women."

Like I said, tongues were a-wagging! :-)
So, to see that piece of gay history, load it up below and check it out.

Step to it....

I hate to only write something on this blog after watching a TV programme (like I've done with Terminator, the L Word and others) but... I've just watched the third episode of Army Wives and there was a little scene between two of the main characters, Claudia Joy and Denise (Kim Delaney and Catherine Bell of JAG) and that made me think it could just head into lesbian turf down the line. It got my attention enough to send me to the Internet, Googling 'Army Wives lesbian' and while there doesn't seem to be any gay sub-plot down the line (sob, sob) I was glad to see I'm not the only one to have had this thought.
Check out this 'what if' montage on You Tube which manipulates scenes to make it very, very gay..
Oh and before you get there, consider this: how plausible the love relationship seems between these two women -- the acting and script really is quite good on how close and intimate women are with one another.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Alanis is back

Yay, she is back - about to release her new album in the next few weeks. Here's a sneak preview. Isn't she awesome?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Very blind...

They don't call them 'blind dates' for nothing! And boy, can they be a leveler. Let me explain. Over the years, friends have tried to set me up with a 'blind date' and over the years, I have resisted. Until recently that is, when I realised that unless I took any and every available lead, I may end up needing to invest in a Q-20 company. And so I said 'yes' and they set me up. And boy, oh boy, has it been interesting - to say the least. You think someone knows you until they set you up with someone. Then you get to the dinner / coffee/ drink venue and you sit across from the 'blind date' and you start to have a mental dialogue with the person formerly known as 'friend'. 'How can you do this to me?' has been a phrase that's crossed my mind on more than one occasion. 'Are you bloody mad?' is another. All the while, I've sat through the very bloody blind date, making cute conversation about what a good friend the common bloody betrayer is, and trying to think how I'm going to get away from this situation without hurting anyone in the process. In fairness, the 'blind date' is probably thinking the exact same thing and we could probably have a grand old laugh at the expense of our 'common' friend who thought we'd be good together.

Oh dear. It hasn't been too fruitful yet. Although I do persist, just in case one day, there is a real gem I'd kick myself for not meeting.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Terminally terminal

Over the past week, I've ploughed through Season 1 of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I didn't think I'd like it, to be honest. I had Arnie and 'I'll be back' in my mind, but I was so wrong. It's far more than the cheesy actor-turned-politician dishing bad one-liners. And why am I a convert?

Two words: Lena Headey.

She is amazing. I think I'm more of a fan because of her role in Imagine Me and You - where she played the delectable lesbian florist intent on giving the object of her affection those lilies. But in Terminator, she is awesome. I think I'm terminally in love with a TV character.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Coming out of the closet

LOVE this cartoon off

Monday, March 17, 2008

Why us?

I've been watching Nip Tuck 5, and was delighted to see Ellen's partner, Portia de Rossi, in the series. She's gorgeous, and a far cry from that backtracking Anne Heche. So, I get very excited to see that she plays Julia MacNamara's new love. And then, it all seems to go awry. Why are all the lesbians unbalanced? Why are they so bloody flawed? Can they not make a normal, balanced lesbian who happens to look gorgeous and kick ass in the bedroom at the same time? In Nip Tick, the character played by Portia has a psycho daughter who any lesbian would be ashamed to name her own. Man, oh man, why can't the dyke just have a normal, well-adjusted kid? Is it too much to ask? Does anyone have any viewpoint on this one? If so, I'd love to hear your theories.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Oh dear, what's going on?

I have to admit to feeling a little apprehensive about dear old sunny South Africa ever since electricity became a luxury item. It all began more than a year ago in Cape Town, but here in Durban, we weren't really affected at all and so we didn't panic. Then, all of a sudden, it hit us. About two weeks ago, there were daily blackouts in suburbs around SA, causing absolute havoc for those running businesses from home; those trying to raise kids and those trying to cook dinner.

It became a national crisis. We didn't have enough power, they said. Holy crap, you've got to be kidding. It was first a case of denial, then anger and then slowly, acceptance. Most of still grappling with the latter phase. But I've gone out and bought a gas stove; gas lights; candles and ethanol based two plate cooker and lights. Remnants of the brownie in me coming out: be ready for any situation.

In the interim, I am wondering how this would impact on my relationship status. I think I could actually have quite a lot of fun with the lights out if I had a hot partner to share the non-air-conditioned atmosphere with. Applicants apply via this blog!!! x