Feather Awards Snub | Who Are The Awards Really Serving?

If you follow me on social media you may have come across a post I made last week that I have been disinvited from The Feather Awards. Yes, I got a phone call from the organiser and founder, who basically said he has read what I have written about the awards and feels he should not be inviting me because "I don't seem to get what the awards are about". 

I had a conversation with some few people about this as well as some industry friends and have since learned that other bloggers have also not received an invitations because of the perceived negative coverage they have given the event. 

Personally, the industry is big enough that one can continue to have a career without covering certain events or people. As far as the Feather Awards are concerned, they only happen once a year so it is not much of a loss there. 

That said, while I had told myself I was not going to give this issue any further thought or mention, I also feel that I have an obligation to YOU my readers to express and explain certain things — given that alot of people who read this blog are openly gay. 

I may not be perturbed about being disinvited but I am concerned. My main concern is about snubbing people simply because they have the gaul to express an opinion that is not about kissing your feet or sucking up. The problem with South Africans is that they seem to not understand the fact that one can admire someone or like something and still have the freedom to express some criticism. 

A measure of a true supporter is in his ability to not just applaud but question and advice when necessary. To take every criticism personally, without looking at its merit, is a sign of a totalitarian way of thinking — which could be a hinderance to growth and credibility. 

My biggest concern with this purge by the Feathers oragnisers, of people they deem negative to their brand, is that it erodes the credibility of the event completely. Who is the Feather Awards serving or representing?

As far as I have observed, most mainstream media outlets that cover the Feathers after the ceremony could care less about the impact the event has on the LGBT community but focuses on the celebrities that attended. The celebrities themselves; what meaningful impact do they have in the advancement of social issues impacting the LGBT community? 

Since the inception of the awards, I have personally made 21 posts on this blog about the awards. I have expressed any issues I have with the event, applauded the good and also shared information about the improvements. My very last post HERE expressed how pleased I was that the event is now going to be recognising activists from across the continent. 

So, if the people who actually take the time to engage with the public about the event, that supposedly represents them, are now banned — who are the Feather Awards exactly celebrating? Is it more important to the organisers to glorify celebrities who will gladly use derogatory terms to berate gays on social media or would never offer any visible and active role in helping advance issues that plague the LGBTI community?

Under the banner of being an event by the gay community, the organisers are now banning people from that very community who dare have an opinion that is meant to aide the growth and social impact of the event. Hypocrisy much?!

What am I missing here? How is any gay person supposed to take this event seriously, if it perpetuates the same type of discriminatory mechanism it purports to be against. What has Maps Maponyane [nothing against him, just reference] done for the gay community that he deserves to have "represantatives" of the gay community swoon over him with awards whilst at the same time shunning people who have actively brought the conversation about gay issues and life to the fore. 

In my very cordial phone conversation with Thami Kotlolo (the founder of the awards) about his decision to pull my invitation, he said that one of his reasons is that he doesn't like fakeness and doesn't want a situation where he sees me at the event and has to pretend that he is happy to see me there.

Mr Kotlolo also said that I have access to him and should have talked to him whenever I had an issue with the event. Fair enough, but how practical is that? If every blogger had to clear an opinion with the person affected by the subject before expressing an opinion then blogs would not exist. Being a commentator means you observe the industry, engage the public and offer an opinion on a subject matter, in an effort to be a bridge between the fans and the industry. 

I habor no ill feelings towards Thami. It's his party and he can invite or disinvite whomever he chooses. That's fine. BUT let's be honest then... can we not call this event an event representing the gay community. I was ok when I thought this was just a snub directed towards me but after learning that others, some of whom are prominent gay personalities, were also snubbed, I was dismayed. 

Sadly, as expressed at the beginning of this article, this is what has come to represent the gay community in South Africa. The very same community that bemoans inequality and being marginalised often will rally behind a celebrity on twitter even when that celebrity uses derogatory gay terms to shame a gay person. Hell, they will even help attack that person. Now they are enforcing a discriminatory system for an event that is supposed to be about promoting acceptance. 

What does this say about gay people? 
Are we as fickle and pretentious as we have been deemed to be? 
Are we so fame hungry that we would shun our own just so we can appease and be part of the celebrity fray? 
Is it more important to silence gay voices so that you can swoon over an industry that could care less about you because you are gay?

The irony and hypocrisy of this whole situation baffles and saddens me. At the time when the scorn and stigma of being gay seems to be diminishing and the world is becoming more inclusive, it is the gays who are now discriminating. Not that I am surprised but I'm still worried. 

Anyway, I still believe that the Feathers could be a force for the good of the community. I loved the Dialogue Sessions and genuinely believed that they could have a positive impact. What ever the motivation behind this latest drama is, I just hope it does not derail the core value that this platform could have in the LGBTI community. 

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