How to Be a Real Gay

Gay Identities in Small-town South Africa

By Graeme Reid

How To Be a Real Gay takes its title from a series of workshops organized by gay activists in the small town of Ermelo, South Africa. Focusing on everyday practices of gayness in hair salons, churches, taverns, and meeting halls, the book explores the ambivalent space that homosexuality occupies in the newly democratic South Africa: on the one hand, protection of gay rights is a litmus test for the country's constitutional democracy, yet on the other, homosexuality is seen to threaten traditional values, customs, and beliefs. The book is the first to emerge that recounts how gays in small-town South Africa negotiate this difficult symbolic terrain. How do discourses on international gay and lesbian social movements and gay equality hang together with local views on identity, gender, and relationships? Why do small-town gays harness fashion, style, and glamour in the making and sustaining of identity? How do economically vulnerable gays organize, access resources, and create networks linking small towns to cities? How To Be a Real Gay delves to the core of what it means to be 'the other' in contexts of risk, exclusion, and inclusion. In its richly textured way, the book also speaks to the tremendous capacity of gays to imagine and create life-worlds in a harsh environment.

318 pages

Publication Date: 2/1/2013
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781869142438