The first season of The Way Ngingakhona is currently underway and after just six episodes, there are lessons we hope everyone will take away. The show details the lives and times of three friends. Innocent Matijane is a queer male trying to find himself and make a mark in the world; Tholang Motsumi is an unapologetic transgender woman who takes us through her daily struggles; and Mj Maponya is a self-assured bisexual man, with a pregnant girlfriend, who also struggles with letting his friends and family into who he really is. Here goes:
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LESSON 1: LGBTQ+ people shouldn’t have to come out to anyone.
The very idea of wanting someone to explain their sexuality smacks of homophobia. Think of all the conversations where you have described someone as “in the closet”. Does outing them change the price of bread or decrease the repo rate? Society has double standards when it comes to sexuality. Heterosexuals never have to define themselves by their sexuality when they walk into a room. Yet, there is almost an expectation for other sexualities to do so.
In the words of actor Ryan Jamaal Swain, who plays Damon in the Netflix series Pose: “As a queer or LGBTI person, there’s no need for you to come out. Straight people don’t have to. It’s not 2005. No announcement is needed. You were born that way. That is you. I have a problem with the label ‘coming out’. I want to reverb, rewire and remake it to ‘inviting in’. So, we invite people into our and my experience as a queer male,” he said in an interview with gaystarnews.com.
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LESSON 2: Tolerance is doesn't cost a cent.
When legendary basketball player Dwyane Wade appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show to talk about his transgender daughter, Zaya, many other high-profile American celebs declared their own sexual preferences, and said they hoped it would inspire others to be tolerant. Accepting someone’s choices — regardless of how foreign they may be to you — gives them peace of mind. They know that at least one person understands them. For instance, in The Way Ngingakhona, Tholang’s mother, and teachers at her former high school, kept an open mind about her sexuality at a time when it was unheard of for someone who lived in a small town to proudly wear their sexual orientation. That, Tholang says, was the little wind she needed to help her fly above the outside world’s insults and intolerance.
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LESSON 3: You don’t know the next person’s story.
Cue the inspirational quote: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” For instance, as much as Tholang appears confident and that she has self-acceptance on lockdown, she touched many viewers’ hearts when she shared her rape ordeal at the hands of a friend’s boyfriend. When Innocent opened up to his cousin and was told, “It’s going to take time to get used to you being feminine”, it was a reflection of how insensitive and morally superior most of us tend to be.
The Way Ngingakhona airs on Moja Love, DStv channel 157, on Saturdays at 8pm. The repeat is on Tuesdays at 9pm.