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6 November 2008 to 28 February 2009

ImageSame-sex Relationships Explored in New Exhibition on Love, Marriage, Families and Human Rights at Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg.

For many people the idea of family would be a mum and a dad and children. But it doesn’t have to be a mum and a dad; it can be a mum and a mum or a dad and dad.  It could be a single parent; a grandmother could take on that maternal role, non-biological parents. There don’t even need to be children. A group of people that are related, not necessarily by blood, is a family. There are many families who might not like each other, but still love each other.” – Lindi Malindi, 20

Lindi is one of the many people who participated in the new exhibition “Home Affairs: About Love, Marriage, Families and Human Rights” that opens at Natal Museum on the 6th November 2008.

The process leading up to the passing of the Civil Union Act in South Africa in 2006 revealed that, although South Africa has one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, the idea of same-sex marriage remained highly contentious. In order to address this, the Gay and Lesbian Network and Natal Museum have partnered to bring the exhibition “Home Affairs” to Pietermaritzburg. The exhibition, created by Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) and Trace exhibition group, offers a thought provoking starting point for exploring same-sex relationships within the context of family diversity.   

There are a multitude of family formations that have evolved in South Africa as a consequence of cultural, political, and economic conditions as well as personal choice. By displaying a range of strong, positive, family portraits, first person accounts and memorabilia, visitors to the exhibition are invited into the lives of these families and shown that families share basic values of love, support and commitment. In doing this the exhibition highlights that same-sex unions are a human rights issue.

The exhibition includes an interactive handout that allows visitors to pose a question to one of the people featured in the exhibition. This has revealed a level of serious engagement from visitors. For example, seventeen year old Petrus wants to know from Bev, who was raised in a female-headed household, “How is it possible to have a family without a man, because men are the main characters?” “Dear Richard,” asks Danielle, fifteen, “Was it hard having a life with your wife and then finding out you were gay? Would you ever have changed your decision?”

The exhibition was premiered at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg and launched by Chief Justice Pius Langa and Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Ntombazana Botha. “Home Affairs” is funded by the Ford Foundation.

“The exhibition has documented different families and relationships that include same sex relationships which is a recognition that they do exist. The exhibition forms pat of our vision to creating a non-discriminatory, supporting and accepting environment in which the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community is uplifted and developed” said Anthony Waldhausen, director of the Gay & Lesbian Network.

“The Natal Museum is pleased to be hosting the GALA Exhibition ‘Home Affairs’. We support the exhibition’s message of understanding and acceptance towards the dynamics of today’s diverse family units, and promote the need for museums (as well as other educational institutions) to play a pivotal role by challenging intolerance, in all its forms” said director Luthando Maphasa.

“Home Affairs” will be showing at Natal Museum until 28 February 2009. The Natal Museum is situated at 237 Jabu Ndlovu Street (formerly Loop St opposite Imperial Hotel).

For more information about the exhibition please contact Anthony/Ponie at (033) 3426165.

Image  Click on image for a full size version.


Gay and Lesbian Network
The Gay and Lesbian Network is a registered non-profit organization which is tax exempt and has Section 18A (1) status and constituted with an Executive Committee. The Network was founded in January 2003 and is based in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. The Network has developed three key programmes in order to address the many challenges faced by the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and these are Safe Spaces, Health and Creating an Enabling Environment.

Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) - formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Archives - is based at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. GALA was established to provide a permanent institutional home for the wide range of historical and archival material relating to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) experience in South Africa. It aims to be a source of information to the public and to serve as a catalyst for generating other, previously silenced community histories and narratives. We use exhibitions, films, books, comics and other methods to celebrate LGBTI lives, build Pride in the LGBTI community, and teach the importance of respecting difference and human rights. In this way GALA has contributed to the development of a human rights democracy in South Africa. Our goal is to help make the rights that are guaranteed in our Constitution real for LGBTI people.

TRACE is an interdisciplinary team of professionals in the field of heritage, research and design. The TRACE team has had extensive experience in designing and implementing exhibitions. These include all the permanent exhibitions at constitution Hill (Number Four, Old Fort, Womens Jail), as well as specific projects: World Summit Exhibitions (CWCI), Gandhi: A Prisoner of Conscience (City of Johannesburg), A Prisoner in the Garden (Nelson Mandela Foundation), and Mapping Memory (CWCI).

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