From homo to pomo : 'gay identity' amongst young white men in contemporary South Africa.
This project argues that there is a 'lacuna' in the representation of the demographic understood as 'young, white, urban, gay men' in contemporary South Africa. Whilst mediated popular representations of this demographic exist, these representations perpetuate a transnationalised, commercialised sense of identity – which in turn masks authentically local experiences. There are no literary representations of this demographic which speak to local experiences of support structures, community, identity, and ethics in a post-apartheid context. By deconstructing the label of 'gay' this project maps the problems of interpreting this demographic under a marker of 'gayness'. Using Alex Sanchez's American Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, and Rainbow Road it traces the history and meaning of 'gay'. It relates this meaning to a South African context by using André Carl van der Merwe's Moffie, Malan and Johaardien's Yes, I am! and mediated representations of the popular Mr Gay South Africa competition. These cultural sources point toward the need for a new framework of understanding in South Africa – one which shifts away from an overreliance on Western discourses. This framework is provided in relation to five local narratives gathered through ethnographic research, where the experiences of these five men are interpreted under a paradigm of 'pomosexuality' rather than 'gayness'. The project argues that pomosexuality, as a perspective, appreciates liminality but does not rely on it for identity. Rather, it focuses on the unrepresented shift from a Western ethic of the politicisation of identity to a local ethic of the politicisation of values. It ultimately argues that the lacuna of representation can be filled by adopting this pomosexual framework and breaking free of assumptions of homogeneity and assimilation.