Why Is Homosexuality Still An Issue in South Africa?

2014-04-10 07:30

Is homosexuality still an issue in South Africa? Should homosexuality be an issue in South Africa? What happened to democracy? Isn’t this a free country? What’s the relevance behind this type of discrimination, or any other form of discrimination whatsoever?

These are the questions ringing on my head as I type this.

“I will only vote when I see gay and lesbian cases being taken seriously at local police stations” this was a response I received from a friend over our conversation about the upcoming elections.

A part of me was a bit confused by his response but as I thought it through more and more, I found myself wanting to agree with him.

As a young gay man, growing up in the townships and having to attend local public schools wasn’t easy – not just for me, but for the people around me as well. I have always been known as a ‘coconut’ boy who never played with anyone. Many would assume that I was just a sad or a shy kid, but the actual reason was that whenever I played with boys I found them too rough. And, whenever I played with girls, boys would tease and call me stabane, sis’ bhuti and all those other nasty names people in the townships call us.

Growing up and trying to figure out which category I really fall under, I finally came to terms with who I am.  And I thought: “you know what, this is my life – I will live it just the way I want to”. At some point, I actively chose to live my life my way. But society, it seems, would not allow me to.

It is really quite jarring to find that a large majority of people believes they have a right to an opinion on your life. Naturally, close friends and family can have space to express their concerns on our chosen lifestyles and they’re free to do it, but it can’t always be a defining factor.

I remember when I was in Grade 11 (2010), during our exams, a bunch of straight boys decided they were going to wait for me at our school gate to beat me up - because, apparently, I annoyed them. But what had I done that annoyed them so much? They claimed that my “gayness” was an act, and really a ruse to steal their girlfriends.

They beat me up to a point where I ran straight onto the road and if a taxi driver hadn’t turned his wheel towards the opposing lane, I probably wouldn’t be writing this. I would have been either dead or paralysed. I was really bruised and battered, but grateful that the taxi driver not only swerved to avoid hitting me, but he also chased my attackers away. I was so thankful he had, until he heard me speak and responded with: “kanti uyistabane, engabe ngivele ngakushayisa mgodoyi” (oh you’re a faggot, I should have driven straight over you, you dog).

Being discriminated against for your sexuality is no different from being discriminated against due to your race. Are we going back to the days where the 1976 youth had to die for the freedom of others? Do we have to see more blood being spilt in the roads and homes of our country?

A very close friend of mine, Lungelo was stabbed to death in 2012 and another friend of mine Kelly was recently stabbed, leaving him with terrible wounds.

What are we doing, South Africa? Why is it that homosexuality seems to be deemed not human enough to be respected? If this is ever going to end, why can’t the time for acceptance be right now?

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