Against all odds

By Drum Digital
02 September 2014

I first realised that I was different in pre-school. For many years I tried hard to hide the fact that I am gay, because so many people don’t understand that being gay is not a choice. In fact, I don’t really like being gay and despite trying my best to change, I can’t; it’s in my genes. Being different is actually a blessing, although my parents hate that I am gay. In a way I think they always knew but couldn’t accept it until a guy told them  I had been seeing his partner. As a child not only did I feel different, I was treated differently too. For many years I felt like an outsider – often  ill-treated, forgotten, sidelined and obviously not favored like my brother and sister. Unlike my siblings, who had money and expensive clothing, I had to work for everything and anything I wanted.  I didn’t even have a proper school uniform and suffered beatings with  a sjambok because I wore my dad’s clothes in his absence. Sometimes I think that my parents did that to me because I’m gay, and they couldn’t bear having a gay son. After Matric I enrolled at Fort Hare University. I had a room on campus but with no support from my father and R250 a month from my mother to cover food, toiletries and clothing, I suffered.  I often wore the same clothes and my mother would joke during the holidays that I’m a “cow’s coat” – meaning that I always wore the same clothes. I didn’t do well academically and instead of writing exams, I spent most of my time asking for people’s help. I spent about two years living out of other peoples’ pockets, living with people that I met through social networks and traveling around just to make ends meet. Tired and frustrated, I eventually dropped out of school. IN 2011, on my way home from my sister’s room at Fort Hare University, three men approached me, asking for money. I offered them the R5 I had but instead they attacked me, forced themselves on me and repeatedly raped me.

Terrified and crying, I wanted to scream  for help but a broken beer bottle was held  to my neck and they threatened to stab me.

So instead I laid on the ground, my chest buried in mud. I prayed for a miracle to happen but no one could see or hear me. Somehow I managed to escape. Naked, I ran as fast as I could but that didn’t stop them chasing me. I screamed. Suddenly there was no one behind me. I was alone, and bleeding. When I told my sister what had happened she told my parents. My mother cried but my father looked me in the eye and said, “Why didn’t you run?” His cold response both  angered and hurt me.  A while after the attack I went to a psychologist and the matter was resolved at home with my family. We did not involve the police. I still see my rapists in town but I can’t look them in the eye because the memory of them taking my pride still hurts too much.  This year I’ve re-registered at the University of Fort Hare. I now live with my grandmother and three relatives in a rural area far away from school, and we all depend on her pension of R1 220. Despite these challenges I believe God will make a way and He will provide for me.  I’m 22-years-old and I dream of being a writer, driving my own car, being happy and graduating but most of all I dream of helping children who, like me, knock on your door begging for food and shelter.

By Live Mabeqa

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