Let’s celebrate our differences as people

2015-05-13 06:00
Lunga and#039;Shimmieand#039; Peter, Activist

Lunga and#039;Shimmieand#039; Peter, Activist Foto:

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BEING a young, black, gay man in contemporary South Africa certainly has its perks.

You command attention just by being your flamboyant self, getting high-fives almost everywhere you go.

Of course one should also be able to get used to the endless name-calling and disgusted looks you get and the heart-breaking headlines of hate-crime.

With all these catastrophes and nightmares, I often ask myself: Is the landscape of homosexuality changing for better in South Africa?

Besides being synonymous with a sense of style, success and fun attributes, in the past formative years of the South African democracy, homosexuals have strived to reclaim and redeem their identity.

The media and gay rights organisations such as the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex ) have levelled the playing field to educating and informing the public that gay rights are human rights.

Rights that portray homosexuals as social, economic, spiritual, sexual, emotional and political beings who should be understood and celebrated for being unique.

However, in most parts of South Africa, homosexuality is still considered a taboo issue treated with ignorance and little sensitivity.

Disclosing your sexuality, popularly known as “coming out of the closet,” has not been easy for individuals who live up to societal expectations and sentiments.

Most homosexuals live in fear of rejection.

They are in denial about who they really are and try to live in a way that people define as “normal”.

There are plenty of reasons why families side-line and disown their loved ones for having a different lifestyle.

Moral, religious and traditional beliefs and selfish pride are some of the reasons. So also the ability to have a family.

I do not wish to show disrespect and belittle the institution of marriage and the idea of procreation.

In fact, I respect them and I support the values, but I’m not apologetic for questioning if these practices and value systems can’t be changed in times of adoption, surrogacy and legalised gay marriages.

Some level of review should be considered and conversations should continue about the issue of homosexuality.

If not, it might cost us a lot of young lives being lost through suicide and hate crime attacks.

Many have come to understand and relate to the story line of Senzo and Jason, entertainers Somizi Mhlongo, Bujy Bikwa, Zanele Mholi, Ellen de Generis to mention but a few.

Yet they still struggle and refuse to accept one of their own.

Now it’s time to harness the brilliance of humanity, to show love and respect to homosexuals.

It should not be an obligation to do so – it should be a delight as we have just celebrated our month of human rights.

Those battling to accept their identity and image, I believe that progress in life begins with the courage to be yourself.

One of the basic human rights in the constitution is the right to identity.

This does not only entitle one to having a name and an identificaton card, but it comes with the freedom of being your true self; the freedom of knowing your rights, responsibilities and self-worth.

As we celebrated Freedom Month in April, let’s remember that we are a country filled with different individuals free to grow, to develop and to become all that we can be.

With freedom comes responsibility of how your life turns out.

Find a way to make a living and a difference.

Make your existence count.

The world is waiting to salute you. Know your rights and be free.

) To contribute to this column, send your piece of about 500 words as well as a head and shoulders clear photo of the writer to Jabulani.Dlamini@volksblad.com

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