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Philip Chandler (philipcfromnyc)

Joined 9 years ago from Queens, NY

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I was born and raised in South Africa, and attended high school at Westering High School in the seaside city of Port Elizabeth, graduating from this school in 1981. I attended the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, Transvaal, from 1982 through 1985, earning a B.Sc. degree in Clinical Psychology and Computer Science (I double-majored in these two subjects, and submajored in Mathematics). I enjoyed psychology much more than I enjoyed computer science, and regret to this day that I did not go further in studying this discipline...

I then worked for a large mining corporation (Rand Mines) for several months, before leaving the country in September 1986.

I left South Africa due to my unwillingness to live in a country in the grip of that abomination known to the world as apartheid. At the time of my departure, South Africa had been placed under a semi-permanent "state of emergency", permitting the South African Police and the Security Police to suspend all civil liberties (for example, peaceful crowds could be ordered to disperse, failing which the police could (and did) open fire with rubber bullets and tear gas). I was unwilling to live in a country run by such a government, and considered it to be immoral to remain in the country.

In addition, all white South Africans were required to serve in the South African Defence Force (SADF) for an initial period of two years, followed by an additional period of two years spread out over the next 10 years, in the form of "camps". At the time of my departure, a Colonel named Aubrey Levin was active in the SADF, heading up a program at the psychiatric wing of the major military hospital at Voortrekkerhoogte, in Pretoria, to "cure" homosexual men by forcing them to undergo "aversion therapy", in which they would be subjected to electrical shocks upon being shown pictures of naked men, or of men engaged in sex acts with other men. One horrified psychologist (Trudi Grobler) complained to her superiors about the manner in which a lesbian was shocked in an effort to "cure" her of her lesbianism; the shocks were so severe that her shoes "flew off her feet". (Grobler was thereafter excluded from the psychiatric wing of the military hospital run by Levin.)

Levin's "treatment" allegedly consisted of attaching electrodes to the arms of his subjects. The electrodes were attached to a machine operated by a dial calibrated from one to 10. The male subjects were allegedly shown pictures of naked men, and given increasingly painful shocks whilst instructed by Levin to fantasize about the men in the pictures. This process was followed by showing the subjects Playboy centrefolds, which would be described in glowing terms by the psychiatrist, with no shocks administered. The same process, using pictures of naked women, counterposed with naked men, was employed with those women deemed to have lesbian tendencies.

I met a young man who had been subjected to this form of state-sanctioned barbarism; he self-identified as bisexual, and described the above process in detail. I remember him as a deeply troubled and damaged young man...

Some of the gay men considered to be "incurable" were allegedly forced, against their will and without their consent, into botched and incomplete sex-reassignment surgeries, leaving them surgically ambiguous and emotionally tortured. Several such subjects committed suicide after being horribly mutilated.

Many young men who refused to serve in the SADF for moral and ethical reasons were allegedly strapped down and drugged with sodium pentothal and massive doses of diazepam (Valium), whereupon they were goaded and questioned by Levin, who tape-recorded their responses. Under the influence of these drugs, the subjects would bare their innermost fears, thoughts, and fantasies, which Levin would then mock and dismiss; the subjects would be forced to listen to their own ravings the following day.

Typical of these subjects was one 18 year old "patient" who was allegedly treated without his consent and without the consent of his parents (in South Africa, the age of majority was 21); when his parents complained, they were told that their son was the property of the state and that they had no right to interfere with his "treatment".

Levin escaped South Africa when apartheid finally collapsed, and obtained Canadian citizenship; he taught and worked as a forensic psychiatrist at the University of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) could have served him with a subpoena, but failed to do so. Many individuals who committed atrocities under apartheid were never investigated by the TRC. Incredibly, the gay press in the US and in the UK has been silent about Levin and his alleged human rights atrocities.

Levin was eventually brought to justice in Canada and was sentenced to five years in prison on just three charges of sexual assault against male patients under his care. This lenient sentence does nothing to do justice, given the pain and suffering this man caused to people who were supposed to receive genuine psychiatric care.

I also witnessed, first-hand, the damage done to some conscripts by the SADF. One friend of mine entered the SADF for his compulsory initial two-year period of "national service", and left the SADF two years later, a completely different -- and damaged -- man. I have little doubt that some people are able to weather the abuse and cruelty dished out by a system that breaks the individual down and then rebuilds the individual as a member of an efficient, militarized society; but I know that some people do not fare well, and are left permanently scarred and brutalized by their experience. I was not willing to find out how this experience would change me...

Under South African law in the apartheid era, almost all forms of social interaction between white and non-white people were prohibited or tightly controlled by such laws as the "Group Areas Act", the "Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act", the "Internal Security Act", and provisions of the "Immorality Act". Sex between white and non-white South Africans was a serious crime under the relevant sections of the Immorality Act. Although it was not illegal to be gay per se, consensual anal intercourse between men was listed as a "Schedule I" crime, enabling the police to shoot to kill in the event that a person charged with this "crime" attempted to avoid arrest by fleeing (the police were empowered to shoot persons suspected of the commission of Schedule I crimes in the back, in cases where such people attempted to flee).

Ironically, South Africa now has the most liberal constitution in the world, explicitly prohibiting both public- and private-sector sexual orientation discrimination in access to housing, employment, and places of public accommodation. Gay marriage has been legal in South Africa for several years now. The Constitutional Court struck down the sodomy statute as unconstitutional in a landmark decision hailed across the world.

However, President-elect Jacob Zuma has made clear his contempt for gay persons. South Africa's new "President" is a man who dresses up in a leopard skin and sings "Bring me my machine gun" as he engages in a form of tribal dancing referred to as "toyi-toying". Zuma is not alone in the black leadership to express hatred and contempt for gay people. A grotesque phenomenon referred to within South Africa as "corrective rape" has become prevalent; "corrective rape" occurs when heterosexual men rape lesbian women, in an effort to "correct" their sexual orientation. A written constitution is only as good and as effective in securing individual liberties as those men and women who are tasked with interpreting it and enforcing its provisions. If the South African President openly, sneeringly dismisses gay South Africans and makes known his desire to "knock out" gay South Africans (i.e., render such citizens unconscious by hitting them on the head), I fear for the future of gay South Africans, notwithstanding what is written in the new Constitution.

After leaving South Africa, I spent more than 20 years living and working in the USA in the New York City area as a computer consultant and software writer, and now live in the UK. I decided to move to the UK back in 2005, because several members of my immediate family live in the UK.

Most of my career was spent writing computer software in the investment banking, banking, and brokerage sectors, all of which have undergone near-total collapse in the current economy. I also worked for several state governments, on systems to enforce the payment of child support orders.

I write extensively about issues impacting the rights of gay Americans, including changes to the law in such areas as the legalization of gay marriage, the striking down of anti-gay sex statutes, the passage of anti-discrimination legislation, and other issues of importance to gay and lesbian Americans.

I have been described by some as a "gay rights activist", although I have yet to hear a coherent definition of that particular term. I have studied US constitutional law, and have written numerous legal analyses of issues such as equal protection, substantive due process, and the rights afforded all Americans by the Constitution of the United States.

I enjoy good movies (dramas and thrillers), reading, writing, music, and technology. I am currently constructing a series of "hubs" using this Web site; each hub discusses a particular issue of relevance to the gay and lesbian community in the USA.

A sampling of movies that I really enjoy includes:

The Deep End, The Deep End of the Ocean, Long Time Since, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Dolores Claiborne, The Exorcist, The Day After, Testament, Threads, Blade Runner, Contact, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Rome (HBO series), Queer as Folk (UK series, US series), Insomnia, Iron Jawed Angels, Angels in America, The Manchurian Candidate (original and remake), The Omen (original and remake), Boys Don't Cry, The Forgotten, The Laramie Project, Safe, Marathon Man...

I particularly enjoy the music of the Pet Shop Boys, The Eagles, Placebo (slower, softer tracks), Marianne Faithfull, Supertramp, Christopher Cross, The Cars, Pink Floyd, Rickie Lee Jones, Steve Winwood...

I am new to and I am still feeling my way around this forum. I hope, with the passage of time, to publish hundreds of hubs, each dealing with an interesting topic.

I can be reached for comment at

Thank you,




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