Gay Rights group stages Kiss-In in Cape Town City Centre

Kiss-in Occupies Russian Consulate

“Sports should be about solidarity” says protestor


Dressed in drag, and toting posters of Russian President Vladimir Putin sporting feminine makeup, the morning of Friday, August 23rd saw the Cape Town LGBTIAQ community organise a kiss-in protest, demonstrating against the Russian Federation’s adoption of anti-gay laws in the build up to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

The protest attracted attention by blocking access to Norton Rose House, from where the consulate operates, and by encouraging both community members and passers-by to kiss members of the same sex in defiance of Russia’s newly adopted anti-gay legislature, which bans the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”.

Marathon kiss-in outside Norton Rose House
Protestors kiss outside of Norton Rose House, in defiance of Russian “anti-gay” laws

The Cape Town LGBTIAQ community, in addition to organisations protesting simultaneously in Pretoria and elsewhere globally, denounced the new Russian law, which includes multiple bans on Gay Pride parades taking place in public.

The protest attracted significant attention as crowds of onlookers hastily assembled to view the kissing couples, while Norton Rose House security guards repeatedly sought to clear the entrance area to the building. SAPS officers remained on standby, preventing the protestors from moving onto the street.

Protestor Christopher Starr, refusing to vacate from the Norton Rose House entranceway, commented that the aim of the protest was to “bring attention to what Russia has just passed – and is terming – anti gay laws.” Calling for the boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics, Starr stated “sport should be about solidarity… and that’s not happening in Russia right now. It’s a terrible place to be at the moment if you are a gay person.”

Starr went on to evaluate the social impact of the laws, stating that gay citizens in Russia “can’t express any kind of love, and can’t talk about it”, while arguing the difficulty of “ help(ing) younger gays who need information or love”. Starr cited his belief that there was no better way to demonstrate against the foreign law locally, than by “fighting hate with love”.

Globally, the ‘anti-gay’ laws have sparked outrage amongst both Human Rights and Gay Rights groups, which have criticised the controversial President Vladimir Putin and his government decision to introduce the law before the commencement of the 2014 Winter Olympic games.

Kiss-In protestors brandish anti-Sochi placards
Hate on Ice: A couple kiss, brandishing anit-Sochi Olympic

Similar protest has occurred globally, following both an August 9th kiss-in in Antwerp, Belgium, and what has been perceived to be a protest against the law by two female Russian athletes who kissed publicly following achieving Gold in the 400m Sprint at the World Athletics Championships.

The protest ended following the demonstrating group sharing numerous kisses, whilst the group leader, a drag queen identified as Genevieve, urged onlookers to continue demonstrating against the discriminatory and restrictive ‘anti-gay’ law.

we dont need leaders

We Don't Need Leaders. We Need Visionaries.

Our world has become captivated by personality.

Now, if your mind has tilted off its proverbial sun lounger long enough to wish to engage me upon the above topic, I urge you, the reader, to spend the next half-hour watching television. Why? Because, undoubtedly, you will be subjected to a half-hour of either unashamed celebrity promotion or disgruntling, realistic, truth-exposing documentary.

My point? Both focus upon the personality. Television has had, for approximately the last half-century, the incredible, transcendent power that allows for the subtle indoctrination of the human mind. We find ourselves subscribing to the ridiculous notions put forward by Hollywood celebrities or charismatic political harbingers of ‘change’.  We idolize over such individuals daily; we comment upon what they’ve said last, whom they have said it to, why they said it, and what they had for breakfast the previous morning. We find ourselves drawn to what we term our leaders – our inspirations, so to speak.

And today, I write to you to inform you that the concept of a leader has failed and disappointed dismally in every case to date.

In fact, there has not been a successful leader in history.

A leader, by definition, is a person who “leads or commands a group”. The main fault perpetuated by a ‘leader’, is that they are susceptible to the vices that consume all other men; jealousy, vanity, hatred, greed. A leader is not immortal, nor are their goals ever pure, or necessarily justified. A leader is indeed capable of great influence and great undertakings – and can often achieve such goals in haste.

A leader, such as Adolf Hitler, is capable of inspiring those around him – building nationality – in pursuit of an idea.  A dark stain of human history, such as Adolf Hitler, is also capable of the systematic murder of six million people in the name of achieving ‘national purity’.

What I seek to elaborate – for those who may not understand – is that leaders are susceptible to their own desires. Leaders can command a nation in hate as well as love; and often build pillars of change upon the sand.

In this modern world, a leader is no longer satisfactory.

What this world, in a new millennium, requires, are visionaries. Individuals with wills made of iron, and spines made of steel. A visionary is not susceptible to the weaknesses of a leader – because the purity of their dream is an ever-burning flame in the furnace of creative inception. A visionary never ceases to create, seek the better path forward, help those in need, or lend a helping hand – because a visionary, unlike a leader, can see so far forward that he or she knows that the repercussions of a single act can profoundly affect the course of history.

History is full of visionaries – all of them successful. Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Mother Theresa – all pioneers of the greater good.

The world today, weary of conflict and strife as it is, no longer requires, anywhere, the beleaguered impressions that a leader can force upon it. The world does not require the likes of Muammar Gaddaffi or Robert Mugabe any longer – such individuals, their politics, and the acts they have committed are so long obsolete, our world would be far better without their influence. All of them? Leaders.

I urge any person who strives to be a leader to reconsider their choice of dream. A leader is a fallible concept – a failing concept – that has rendered the world as it is today. Rather aspire to be a visionary; for such individuals propel the world forward. Evident in every major step forward – be it a small step for man, or a large step for mankind – have been the influence held by visionaries, the astounding results of their pure intent, and their willingness to change the world in a way not thought possible.

Earth, of the year 2011, no longer requires the command of a leader, but the inspiration of a visionary. The world today requires visionaries on every front; be it from cleaning the streets to managing world finance – the world requires men and woman of capable strength, fortitude, and vision, to inspire the world to change.

A leader forever looks into the distance in search of a brighter future – a visionary, however, looks from a brighter future into the distance.