Turns out we both liked men.

Dear friends, family and interesting creatures,

I happened upon my dearest friend, Louw’s video about being different yesterday. I’d never thought different could mask the word gay.

When I finished watching Louw’s video about coming out to his Dad, I had an ugly face cry.  I hated that Louw had felt any hurt ever.

I felt compelled to acknowledge the truth in my own life. My children’s father is gay.

I usually am very quick and witty about this subject. I say things like: (insert drum roll here)

I love gay men so much, I even married one once.

The truth is nothing like that. Truth is jest.

I would like you to watch Louw’s video, before you read the 30 things Brian is most grateful for. Perhaps it will explain to you, why I have felt an assortment of emotion, but never anger, nor blame. It’s a strange, strange world we live in Master Jack. 

I urge to you attempt to accept, embrace and have empathy for what you do not understand. I know this is not easy. Not for you, and certainly not for the person standing before you.

Thirty things I am thankful for:

There are so many ways I could look at this, so I will probably split my thirty things I am thankful for between the serious and the slightly more flippant.

  1. I am thankful for the path I have walked, for better or worse I feel I am a more authentic me.

Roughly a decade years ago my life was in turmoil. I realized whatever life I was living it was not me. Being a sometimes compulsive writer I wrote my thoughts down at the time and made a decision to try something new.

What I wrote at the time follows:

“I have never been afraid of death until now, not death itself but rather the life I will live until I die. A life lived in fear, a life that becomes banal, uninteresting even to myself” For a few months I know I lost the plot completely and drew into myself. No More.”

I will not live an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to love
so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

– Dawna Markova.

To not live an unlived life I realized was to require an absolute freedom, not bound by the shackles of my past, or the shackles of a grafted on morality.

I would rather live a life guided by that which sits deep within me. An honest life that is true to me and true to those around me.

“Accepting a freedom like that is both exciting and terrifying. How much do the points of reference on a moral compass shift, when reliant on purely one’s sense of self and who one is?”

The words above were written by a man who had been living in absolute fear and conflict with himself, deeply closeted to a point of denial.

Making a decision to seek something different, I never imagined where the journey would take me.

Today, I am a happy, out of the closet man who can fully accept me without conflict. So yes, for this I am thankful.

  1. I am thankful for my three children. Each a unique and special blessing who have walked the long path with me. Who love and accept me for who I am, flaws and all. Without them I am nothing.
  1. I am thankful for the mother of my children. Without her I would have nothing to offer this world when I am dead and gone. I hope that they each carry a piece of me, so that others will know my character even if they never met me.
  1. I am Thankful for a Grandmother who carried me in my youth. She was a mentor, a confidant and a friend. Certainly she formed part of the mould for who I am today.
  1. I am thankful for those others dear to me no longer of this earth. The lessons learned the memories cherished. For them in those dark hours I will still steal away and cry.
  1. I am thankful for past lovers. Some left me hurt, some left me poorer. Some I will carry in my heart forever. The all left me older and wiser.  I am thankful for that wisdom.
  1. I am thankful for the children along the way who I did not raise but still call me dad. It has been my privilege.
  1. I am thankful to live in a country and community that makes room for all and gives all a place in the sun.
  1. I am thankful for a small but precious circle of friends. These are the family I got to choose.
  1. I am thankful for my brother. He will always be a shining star in my life. Never on this earth could anyone be more proud of a sibling.
  1. I am thankful for late night conversations, the sharing of tears. I hold these moments sacred.
  1. I am thankful for my first love. Music. The soundtrack to my life would be an eclectic mix. Everything I have ever felt can be expressed in music, be it the lyrics or the emotion of the instruments.
  1. I am thankful for the fact I have lived over two decades in the one industry, it was foretold I could never make it in.
  1. I am thankful for those who will put themselves on a stage to perform. These courageous people who put themselves out there for our entertainment.
  1. I am thankful for the artists in the world. The ones on gallery walls and the ones on the subway walls. Creativity in all its forms inspires me.
  1. I am thankful for the moments when my mind grows still.
  1. I am thankful that in most cases we get to try again tomorrow.
  1. I am thankful for a world rich in fragrance, be it a flower, a dish to feast upon or the unique scent of a man or woman.
  1. I am thankful for the tree lined avenues I travel on my daily commute.
  1. I am thankful for the random smile of strangers.
  1. I am thankful for the animals I have loved throughout their lives. I love them still.
  1. I am thankful to the genius who first took leaves from a plant and let them steep in boiling water. Five Roses African Select is its perfect form.
  1. I am thankful for the genius who figured out fermentation. Beer or wine for me.
  1. I am thankful for the genius who figured out distillation. Vodka anyone?
  1. I am thankful for the genius who first processed a Cocoa Bean. 75% Dark chocolate for me.
  1. I am thankful for the Afrikaans language. Truly a beautiful language.
  1. I am thankful for the months that run out before the money does. Wish it happened more often.
  1. I am thankful for the nights where I beat insomnia. I wish they were more.
  1. I am thankful for “out swimming” a lot of other sperm. (Sorry I could not resist)
  1. I am thankful for any of you who took the time to read this.

 

May love and laughter light your days,

and warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours,

wherever you may roam.

May peace and plenty bless your world

with joy that long endures.

May all life’s passing seasons

bring the best to you and yours!

 

With Love,

Brian

@FATC_SA H28 a powerful dance tribute to Ugandan #gayrights @UJArtsCentre #H28

FATC H28 LOVE IN A TIME OF HAMMERS

1-Fullscreen capture 20141019 055729 PM

H28 a powerful dance tribute to Ugandan gay rights

FATC is showcasing a new, thought provoking dance collaboration as a way of bringing awareness of gay rights in Africa to theatre audiences in Johannesburg, for three performances only, from 30 October to 1 November.

“Would I choose to be gay if know I’ll be minority, and be pounded for it?”- David Kato, Ugandan gay rights activist.

The FATC (Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative) is collaborating with the talents of Zimbabwean choreographer Mcintosh Jerahuni, UK-Zimbabwean-Malawian director Melissa Eveleigh and the FATC dance cast, namely Thulani Chauke, Nosiphiwo Samente, Nicholas Aphane, Thabo Kobeli and Charlston Van Rooyen, to bring a striking new piece of social commentary through dance, to the stage. And, it will question everything we know about minority rights and more specifically gay rights in Africa.

The collaborative piece titled H28 – Love in a time of hammers, forms part of the UJAC’s That so Gay Fest 2014 and is dedicated to Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato, who was a spirited activist, with a vibrant and courageous approach to his work and life. His ultimate dream was to turn his mother’s cassava farm into a gay village, whilst his society wished him dead. Tragically, this wish became a sad reality in 2011 when the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill was being tabled – Kato had sued the local Ugandan newspaper, Rolling Stone, for publishing photographs of people it labelled as gay with the headline “Hang them”.  Just after his success in court he was gruesomely bludgeoned to death with a hammer and, while the police found no connection, many still believe his death was the result of vigilante gay-bashing.

Fast forward to February 2014 and Uganda has passed a new anti-homosexuality bill toughening the penalties for gay people. The proposed bill included the death penalty for ‘repeat offenders’ and ‘aggravated’ homosexual acts, as well as imprisonment for those found guilty of not reporting gay people to the police. This has started a frenzied media campaign to ‘out’ and shame gay people, and carries with it fearful and ignorant rumours about homosexuals in the country.

Inspired by Kato and the situation in Uganda and using it as a starting point, the FATC created H28 to challenge homophobic perceptions. The piece explores the personal and political conditions in which lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender people live in Africa. It depicts an assortment of mad contradictions and poignant possibilities at a crucial frontier of human rights on the continent.

Funded by RMB, Pro Helvetia SDC Ant Funding and BASA, H28 is yet another powerful and shocking FATC- inspired socially-conscious dance narrative, which will bring to stage a provocative awareness of injustice in the world.

Since inception in 1995, FATC and its collaborative artists have been repeatedly recognised for their excellence in the field of contemporary South African choreography and performance through numerous awards and nominations. The prolific company is best known for its thought-provoking dance pieces depicting personal and social issues, and has often been referred to as a leading voice in the emergence of the new South African “protest/struggle” theatre. FATC has also been instrumental in collaborating with an extensive number of South Africa’s leading contemporary dance professionals and partnered with some impressive dance and theatre companies. The company has presented works abroad bringing audiences to their feet in countries as far afield as Russia, Holland and Mexico, to name some.

FATC founding member and artistic director PJ Sabbagha is a South African talent whose name has become synonymous with issue-based dance theatre and more specifically HIV and AIDS-focused art. He was the recipient of the 2005 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Dance and the 2006 FNB Dance Umbrella (Gauteng MEC for Arts and Culture) Award for Best Choreography for his work Still Here. He has received numerous other awards and nominations for his works, including being voted top South African Artist in 1995 as well as being in the top 10 of the Star Tonight’s annual top 100 South Africans. To add to his endless list of achievements, PJ travelled across the USA as a guest of the US State Department to participate on the 2007 International Visitors Leadership Program investigating HIV-AIDS and other infectious diseases. His dance works have been shown at festivals and theatres all over the world while he has participated in residencies in Russia, Mexico, Holland, Tanzania, Mali, Mozambique and Taiwan.

“The H28 project sees a new collaboration being born across borders and disciplines, which truly excites FATC and speaks to the vision of the company’s past and future,” says Sabbagha. “The work promises to be a deeply moving and a provocative statement on the issues of Gay Rights in Africa, combining thought-provoking statements with exceptional dance and choreography.”

Over the past 4 years FATC has initiated numerous Residency opportunities that have created a platform for emerging and experienced choreographers to create work with the company.  These include Athena Mazarakis (SA), Gaby Saranouffi (Madagascar), Shanell Winlock (SA), Eric Languet (Reunion Island), Nadine Joseph (SA), Themba Mbuli (SA), Ivan Estegneev and Evguene Kuligan (Russia), Fana Tshabalala (SA) and Mcintosch Jerahuni (Zimbabwe) and Melissa Eveleigh (UK).

ABOUT THE H28 CHOREOGRAPHER AND DIRECTOR

Zimbabwean born choreographer Mcintosch Jerahuni is also a talented musician and dancer. He received his training and experience at Savannah Arts, where he practised traditional dance; Zvishamiso Arts, where he learnt the art of dance while working with choreographer Brian Geza; and the Dance Foundation, where he learnt multiple dance and performance disciplines. While training at the Dance Foundation, he developed a keen eye for choreography and created his first piece, a solo called Runyararo, which premiered at the Harare lnternational Festival of the Arts (HIFA) in 2009. He is currently working with Tumbuka Dance Company, where he has choreographed two works. He has also established Jerahuni Movement Factory, a community arts project. As a musician, Jerahuni plays the mbira instrument while leading his Jerahuni band.

Award-winning UK Director/writer and accomplished development practitioner Melissa Eveleigh has lived and worked in Southern Africa since 2002. Melissa co-founded and ran the national arts and development NGO, Nanzikambe Arts, in Malawi from 2004-2010. More recently she established the Arts Lab, a cultural development programme for performers in Zimbabwe. She wrote and produced an award-winning dance-theatre production titled Can’t Talk About This, which played at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in 2013. Eveleigh trained in physical theatre at LISPA (The London International School of Performing Arts) and has extensively used the arts as communication for education, therapysexual and reproductive rights, health, human rights, and most recently, for legal rights with the GIZ Rule of Law programme in Bangladesh.

H28 – Love in a time of hammers will be staged in Johannesburg at the Con Cowan Theatre. There will be three performances only – 30 October at 7.30pm, 31 October at 7.30pm and 1 November at 3pm. Tickets cost R50 and can be booked via pj@forgottenangle.co.za or purchased at the door.

Please note there is an age restriction of 16 years and under.

For more details visit www.forgottenangle.co.za or find the FATC on facebook.

%d bloggers like this: