What Hate Looks Like

15-year-old Raymond Buys shortly before his death
15-year-old Raymond Buys shortly before his death

Raymond Buys was sent to an infamous right-wing training camp for effeminate boys. “I sent my son on this course to make him a better man, to give him a better future…” said Buys’ mother, Wilma Buys.

Buys in camp uniforms
Buys in camp uniforms

Upon admission to the hospital, Buys had had brain damage, cigarette burns all over his body, a broken arm, numerous bruises and resembled Nazi concentration camp survivor. He died weeks later.

The camp which is supposed to turn effeminate boys into manly men is located in very secluded South African town of Swartruggens. The camp calls itself, Echo Wild Game Rangers (now offering a 15% tuition discount to boot!) and has been in trouble for suspicious deaths of boys in their care before.

Camp flag
Flag associated with camp

According to court documents, boys were subject to such tortures as having boiling water thrown on them or being dragged behind a pickup truck. It’s reported that before Buys tried to escape the camp, he had been strapped to a chair and electrocuted.

Activist Melanie Nathan said:

What is so shocking is that the murder of Buys is not the first, as Echo Wild Game Rangers has seen the deaths of 2 young teens, also perceived as gay and clearly effeminate, when in  2007, 18-year-old Eric Calitz and Nicolaas van der Walt, 19 both died in similar circumstances.  de Koker was handed a suspended sentence in 2009 over Calitz’s death but escaped charges for van der Walt’s death, which was ruled to have been caused by a heart attack. It was reported that de Koker told Calitz  that he wasn’t a “moffie” (like saying “fag”) and he “would make a man out of him.”

The idea of the camp is to apparently make men of teens and to “cure”  ‘”feminine traits’ in male youths…” another way of saying gay reparative therapy, instead in this instance that therapy involved “beating the gay out of the kid” – torture and if torture didn’t effect the desired change, then certainly murder would; after all a dead teen is not a gay teen.

The Telegraph seems to be the source of early reports concerning this organization and its victims. Camp leaders have since plead not guilty to all charges.

NOTE: Other such camps are said to exist throughout the world (though this might be the worst). An online petition is asking the President of Malaysia to shut down one such camp: Last month, Malaysia rounded up 66 teenage male students who were deemed effeminate and sent them to a government sponsored camp because it was feared they “could end up gay or transsexual”.

While the camp featured in this post considers itself to be Christian-oriented, such camps are not only limited to Abrahamic religions. A Buddhist re-orientation camp for trans people is known to exist in Thailand as well.

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Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of underserved communities. She started the first trans homeless shelter in Texas and co-founded the first federally funded housing-first homeless program, pioneered affordable health care for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. She has published short stories, academic chapters and papers, and numerous articles for both print and digital magazines. She received numerous awards for her advocacy and has presented at universities throughout the nation, served on several governmental committees and CBO boards, is the Editor of the TransAdvocate, and is a founding board member of the Transgender Foundation of America and the Bee Busy Wellness Center.