It's your choice but...

2014-01-03 13:40

I don't have a problem with gays but..is an infamous phrase that has been normalised in a world intent on justifying heterosexual privilege and hate. Sexuality to most means it's either you like men or women there’s no in between. I disagree.

Sexuality like race nowadays is being used as a tool to discriminate, oppress and vilify those individuals with sexual desires that are not considered conventional. An African country Uganda recently passed a law criminalising homosexuality (joining a number of others) because I quote “It's unAfrican and is considered symptom of colonisation” an illogical and flawed belief aimed at justifying jailing and murdering people for whom they sleep with.

While I will not go into the historical aspect of it, there has been evidence to suggest the contrary to this claim. Long before our time same sex relations were common and accepted in Africa.

Growing up mainly in the rural Eastern Cape I noticed how boys are discouraged from spending too much time around girls. And that is still the case. At the tender age of 4, when you know nothing about sexual development or gender roles but adults usually grown men will tell you who boys play with girls will grow up to be “moist and mama's babies”. Feeding this to kids at their foundation stage instils a belief of what a “real” man is, and almost ensuring he will grow up to be hyper-masculine and full of male privilege with a patriarchal and homophobic attitude he was thought way before he could deduce for himself the difference between a girl and a boy. All because real men are not “sisses.”

To this day most of us are guilty of subtle homophobia which rears it's head now and again. On New Years Day I was out with some friends at a restaurant in Cape Town when a man dressed in a pink summer dress, heals and all dolled up walked in. One of my a woman companions commented, “I don't have a problem with gay men but (I knew the prejudice disguised as concern was coming) why must he insist on wearing women's clothes. Does he want to be a girl?” It soon turned to lesbians who dress “manly” secretly want to be men. The lack of intellectual understanding in that statement left me I awe. The accepted homophobia. The guarded privilege that thinks there’s one kind of love. The fear of letting others be. The hate in a generation claiming to be the future of this world disgusted me.

I realise that most of us have created our versions of what it is to be gay, straight, bisexual or transgender. That people label you according to their understanding or lack thereof and vilify you for not living within the imaginary boundaries you're expected you to abide by. Perhaps it's why phrases such as effeminate men and straight acting gays are socially accepted and anything outside that is considered abnormal, in denial or weird. It is even more worrying when homosexuals think there’s one brand of being gay.

I'm not sure if it's fear or privilege or both that makes people there's a limit to how people should fully explore their sexuality. Just because you're uncomfortable you get away with saying callous things such as I don't agree with with homosexuality but killing them is taking it too far. Indirectly this implies hate on them but don't kill them. I guess the latter is considered a greater evil.

Sexuality is not monolithic. I believe it's fluid and depending on one's preference should not be reduced to labels and categories to live up to human beings need to control and compartmentalise everything. Why can't a man sleep with a woman just because he had sex with another man yesterday? Why can't a woman marry a man all because she has been dating women her entire life? Whether or not s/he is in denial about whom s/he is it's their choice. Let people be the drivers of their carriages to self discovery. You cannot advocate pro choice and in the same breathe preach moral conservative principles that limit some else's choice to be who they are.

 What's wrong with people falling for people instead of gender types?

Without sounding like idealistic businesswoman turned AgangSA leader Mamphela Ramphele it's time to start seeing people as people first and stop reducing them to their race, sexuality or gender. This is the same as calling yourself a liberal but you have a problem with interracial relationships. In life I believe when it comes to whom a person is, unless you in their shoes, you have no right to question how or with whom they choose to spend their lives with.

It's worse when this kind of behaviour is justified by paraphrasing “a 3000 year old book called the Bible ” as if it's not full of contradictions. A book that has caused so much pain, destruction and wars over the years. Colonisation, slavery and apartheid were once justified because of racists literal reading of the bible.

In the same breathe self appointed moral gatekeepers will call all men children of God but label those who dare challenge convention as sinners who engage in immoral and unnatural acts. That they're are an abomination.

Maybe I am being idealistic and foolish but love and attraction are complex with different interpretations and meaning to each of us. Stop trying to punish others for being themselves just because you uncomfortable.

You can catch me on twitter @BongaDlulane....

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