Ashdown-born gay and lesbian ambassador Sphelele “Rooi” Ntshiba (28) revealed how he was once at the brink of suicide after being rejected by his family and community because of his sexuality.
Ntshiba, who is now an advocate and voice for the voiceless homosexuals in Pietermaritzburg, said he is grateful for all the difficulties in his life as they now serve as a testimony for all those he counsels that one can live through difficulties and succeed.
“I think me being gay also contributed to being rejected by my family.
“As a child I never knew I was gay or what that was, all I knew is that I loved dresses and looking pretty.”
However, he said he was not accepted and was often ill-treated by those around him as a teenager because of his sexuality.
“When I was 17 years old it got really bad, my self-esteem reached rock bottom,” he said.
“I was not happy about being labelled as gay.
“I started going to church, I became a born-again Christian and got baptised, hoping that all this will wash away my gayness but it never worked.
“I considered committing suicide and started carrying tablets with me planning to overdose myself and die. I was diagnosed with and hospitalised for depression.
“That’s when I decided that I needed to step up and take control of my life.
“I sat down and did self introspection and came to realise that this is the only life I have and I needed to accept and love myself before expecting other people to accept and love me.
“I advise all those who are still finding it hard to accept their sexuality to firstly accept and love themselves.
“Currently I am at my happiest. I found a safe haven here at the LGBT Network and am currently studying to be a teacher while volunteering my services to help the Pietermaritzburg community.
“I am an HIV counsellor, LGBT ambassador, facilitator and a researcher,” added Ntshiba.
• Sphelele “Rooi” Ntshiba’s story as told to Nompilo Kunene.