Interview | African Pride
African Pride lgbt life in south africa “A lot of the arguments that are used in South Africa… is that being gay is somehow ‘unAfrican’. It’s somehow white, Western or colonial. What this documentary is about is the people who are standing up and saying; ‘actually, no – I was born in this township, I grew up here, this is where I work, this is where I love and I’ve chosen to be here and don’t tell me this space isn’t my own.’” When speaking about her latest work, the enthusiasm of journalist and documentary maker, Laura Fletcher, comes across so easily that it’s contagious. That enthusiasm, however, is intertwined with a heavy realization that she has dealt with many dark moments in people’s lives – a task she has not approached lightly. 14 EILE Magazine
Fletcher recorded over 120 hours of film for her documentary, African Pride, which takes a look at life for LGBT people in South Africa. As Laura explains, it was a difficult challenge, as South Africa’s stance on gay rights is an unusual one. While some countries’ inhabitants are more liberal than their laws would suggest, South Africa’s situation is the reverse. The Constitution of South Africa protects same-sex relationships, and the country introduced marriage equality in 2006, but a 2013 survey revealed that 61% of South Africans felt that their society should not accept homosexuality. In comparison, a similar study from 2008 found that only 8% of South Africans felt that homosexuality was not ‘wrong’ at all.
For a journalist to cover such a story in one’s own country is one thing, but what happens when a foreigner tries to do it? Fletcher has lived and worked in South Africa, which meant that she wasn’t completely oblivious to the social context of what she was dealing with, but Fletcher is not from South Africa. Did this make things more difficult when gaining the respect and trust of those she wanted to feature in African Pride? “I think it was quite difficult,” she notes, “not least because they were super dubious of me! I mean, I was white, I was foreign, I was Irish – they didn’t even know where Ireland was! They had no reason to trust me at all!” Despite her joking and laughing about being an Irishwoman so