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Jozi Queens

Produced by Luiz de Barros

'Jozi Queens' is based on a series of interviews conducted with pageant participants, performers and organisers in the greater Johannesburg area in 2015. The aim of the project was to document and gain insight into the gay and trans pageant scene in Johannesburg, in line with GALA’s quest to preserve, produce and disseminate knowledge around the LGBTI community in southern Africa.

The film is hopefully the first step of a larger documentary project, depending on further funding.

We would like to thank the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH) for their generous support in making this project possible. We would also like to thank all the interviewees for their time and candid responses, contributing to the documenting of LGBTI history.

All pageant footage is from Miss Gay Jozi 2015, Wits Theatre.
Thanks to GALA and Simply Blue for funding the filming of the pageant.

Producer/Director: Luiz de Barros
Executive producers: Gay & Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA).
All rights: ©Luiz de Barros and Gay & Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA). 2016.
Videographer: Sims Phakisa
Editors: Simphiwe Mahlangu & Diliza Moabi (S.A.G.E.) for Wanaya Visuals


Property of the State (2003)

Directed by Gerald Kraak and produced by Jill Kruger.

Property of the State paints a harrowing picture of forced conscription in the 1970s and 1980s, and brings to light a hidden history of persecution, which was an integral aspect of the brutality of apartheid.

Obligatory conscription meant that thousands of naive white boys were subjected to the rigid horrors of military discipline. A number of these boys were gay. This forceful documentary investigates the deep abiding scars, betrayal, humiliation and psychiatric ‘treatments’, along with the eroticism, flamboyant personalities, camaraderie and sexual awakenings of time. It deals with the contradictory experience of gay men in the apartheid military – an environment in which homosexuals sometimes found erotic space, but mostly encountered hostility.

Justice Edwin Cameron had the following to say about the documentary: ‘What is impressive is its rich visual and emotional colourings, its unhysterical pace and tone, its intellectual and emotional depth, interspersed with considerable verve and humour … It is important that, in this film, queers in the military are not represented as victims only, but as observers, resisters, critics, commentators and participants."

Everything Must Come to Light (2002)

A documentary by Paulo Alberton and Mpumi Njinge. Produced by Ruth Morgan.

Everything Must Come to Light focuses on the lives of three dynamic same-sex identified women who are sangomas (traditional healers) living in Soweto, South Africa. They are articulate, sympathetic women who are willing to share their stories. This is an unusual story in a realm that is often shrouded in silence and secrecy. After leaving their husbands, two of the women were able to explore their sexuality in relation to other women as a result of their dominant male ancestors instructing them to take wives. The relationship with their ancestors and the roles that they play in their healing powers and their sexuality are focal points in this documentary.

Simon and I (2002)

This documentary recounts the lives of two prominent figures in the South African gay and lesbian liberation movement: Simon Nkoli and the maker of the documentary, Bev Ditsie. Described as ‘a personal statement and a political history’, the film charts Ditsie’ relationship with Nkoli ‘through good times and bad against a backdrop of intense political activism and the HIV/ AIDS crisis’. The film makes use of a mixed format of interviews and archival footage. Many of the photographs, letters and other documents featured in the film are housed at GALA.

Dark and Lovely, Soft and Free (2001)

A documentary by Paulo Alberton and Graeme Reid. A co-production of Franmi Productions (Brazil) GALA and Vidiola.

Dark and Lovely, Soft and Free follows a network of gay hairstylists and their friends to small towns, rural areas and urban peripheries in South Africa. Presenter Zakhi Radebe travel thousands of miles through the provinces of Gauteng, Mpumalanga, the Free State, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. On this road trip they and the audience meet stylists who are also preachers, choristers, traditional healers, beauty queens and socialites. Through them we find out about the creative possibilities for making gay spaces in the South African countryside. The documentary provides an alternative vision of acceptance and celebration, in contrast to the wave of homophobia that is sweeping across sub-Saharan Africa.

Josi: the Queer Tour (1999)

A documentary by Paulo Alberton, Graeme Reid and GALA.

This short documentary gives a unique insight into the history of lesbian and gay cultural identity in Johannesburg. Explore South African society through this queer tour put together by historians, anthropologists and researchers to serve tourists and participants of the ILGA conference, Johannesburg, September 1999.
An actual walking tour of Constitution Hill and Hillbrow and a longer bus tour of Johannesburg and Soweto are also run by GALA (for more information, please see the tour section of the website).