It’s lavender versus letters over in South Africa, where the Gays for Equitable Media are taking on a journalists perhaps negative portrayal of gay men.
In one article – “Drug rapists target men” – The Independent‘s Fiona Gounden described a “sinister new development”: a growing number of men are having their drinks spiked in nightclubs across South Africa.” Another article, published last Saturday, includes one man’s first person account of an alleged drugging.
The Durban-based man claims he had been at a barbecue with the men, then went to a beach party, blacked out and then nothing. He told Gounden,
The next thing I remember was being naked in bed with both of them lying naked on either side of me at about 4am on Monday. There was a porn movie playing and we were in the master bedroom…
The man also claims the men slashed his tires.
…He then decided to make a quick getaway, but found all four of his tyres were slashed. In spite of this and suffering “extreme abdominal pains” he drove away and called his brother, who took him to hospital for various tests, including for HIV and Aids.
“We then went to the police to lay a charge of sexual and indecent assault.”
Another man reported a similar situation and symptoms.
GEM, meanwhile, accuses Gounden of slashing journalistic ethics. GEM spokeswoman, Tracey Sandilands, called Gounden’s reports “potentially problematic” and worried about “gay panic”:
While these troubling and shocking events must, of course, be reported and investigated, we are concerned that the media might create the impression that all gay men are aggressive predators of heterosexual men, which is, of course, untrue.
Like every other community, there are a small number of people with criminal intentions, but this should never be used to stereotype the entire community, or create a sense of fear about that community…
Lesbians and gays are a minority, often under threat. The media must have a sense of responsibility about how their reports influence public perceptions of our community.
They also, of course, have the responsibility to report on gay men who may or may not be drugging other men.
According to KwaZulu-Natal psychologist
Gareth Alexander, the problem’s more prevalent than people think – or want to believe. He told Gounden,
It is really sad because most of these men portray a strong image at their homes and places of work. Yet, when I speak to them they are troubled and fragile. There are thousands of men out there who desperately need help.
I recently had a case where a gay man went to a Durban club with his partner and later felt drowsy while his partner was at the bar. He does not remember how he left the club but found himself in an abandoned building at the Point. He had severe abdominal pains and suspects he may have been raped. His possessions were also gone. Many other gay men have told me a similar story.
Perhaps Gounden’s right in describing this as a “sinister new development”.