Legend has it that the Montagues and Capulets had a feud for as long as anyone could remember; one source traces it back to Dante's Divine Comedy. The story is somewhat of an allegory of course and it says as much of society today as it does of feudal Italy. That Shakespeare turned this into a convoluted love story just makes it ever the more senseless and tragic.
Concurrently I am vividly reminded of the 2004 film “Crash” starring Ryan Phillippe, which centred on the topics of racism, retribution, vicious cycles, and the self-perpetuating nature of all that is ugly in human behaviour.
While watching said movie I thought about the conflict in Palestine and of stones being thrown by both sides while nobody could remember who cast that first stone. That is the tragedy of human interaction. We can be our own worst enemies and in getting beyond knowing this simply intellectually we are not relinquishing our majesty.
But nonetheless we never learn, not from the mistakes of others nor the mistakes of our own making:
On the 19th of May 2012 it felt good being gay. A grassroots mass of people organised and marched to the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg to express anger at the attempts of the House of Traditional Leaders to remove sexual orientation from the Bill of Rights' equality clause. For the first time in a very long time the local LGBTI community set aside their differences and stood together as one, a united opposition of indignation and a show of political unity.
It felt good carrying one end of a five metre wide by two metre high banner which read "human rights include gay rights."
A mere ten days later everything had changed. Infighting of epic proportions broke out and I was out jogging trying to make sense of the chaos around me. I saw ugly things coming from good people. I saw the worst part of what humanity is capable of. It counts amongst the most profoundly sad couple of weeks in my life.
After jogging a good eight kilometres with quite the fervour and having a quite a bit of time to think I proceeded to de-activated my Facebook account for the first time in five years. A friend of mine said it was quite a radical step of me to take, I explained that I wanted to rescind my gayness, hand in my gaydar and return to what I imagined a sense of normalcy looked like.
I saw that the House of Traditional Leaders needn’t worry too much, that the LGBT community was capable of destroying itself on its own accord. I thought some Members of Parliament who expressed that they don’t care for equality would have been pleased to see the infighting play out. What a soft target we must seem.
While I looked on at the destruction it was inevitable that phrases of George Orwell’s Animal Farm rang in my ears:
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
Without appropriating figure for faction, because they are two sides of the same coin in any event, it was plain to see that the oppressed became the oppressor, the aggrieved, and the aggressor.