Theo Kgosinkwe (Pic: Facebook)
I came across an online article on Sowetan Live entitled “Mafikizolo’s Theo Kgosinkwe opens up about gay rumours: ‘It nearly broke me.’” I sat to read what this article was about and not be misled by the headline.
Upon clicking on the link, I learned that, “It’s been three years since Mafikizolo’s Theo Kgosinkwe shut down rumours surrounding his sexuality‚ but he has once again revealed the pain that the rumours brought‚ and how it made him want to leave the industry.”
To say I read this piece in horror is a profound understatement – I was uncomfortably shocked and dismayed as I continued reading.
I grew up listening to Mafikizolo back in the township and fondly remember dancing to many of your hits back when I was still in school as a young lad. To be quite clear, I wasn’t horrified or dismayed by the fact people are accusing you of being gay. As a black gay man, I have been at the receiving end of homophobic slurs.
You are quoted in the piece saying “[the gay rumours] nearly broke me.” I strongly object to your response, which implied that being gay (or rumoured to be gay) is cause for you to be “broken.” Irresponsible statements such as yours serve to fuel the prejudice and hatred against us as homosexuals. Such statements perpetuate the idea that being gay is a deviant, abnormal and abhorrent.
We live in a heteronormative and patriarchal society that celebrates being macho and manly. Anything different from that expressed from a man is often viewed with a “queer eye.” You are a male entertainer that makes a living from entertaining crowds through singing and dancing. Your dance moves and mannerisms are perceived to be opposing those that are expected from a heterosexual black man. Expressing hypermasculinity serves the added purpose of precluding questioning about one’s sexual orientation, through a generous and decisive clarification of any potential ambiguity about the matter.
Normative conceptions of masculinity in the South Africa society are inherently heterosexist and homophobic. Because of the conflation of gender and sexuality, to be seen as masculine requires being heterosexual, prompting the hypermasculinisation of behaviour among males and people in general in order to avoid being labelled a ‘gay’ or ‘iStabane’ or ‘SisBhuti.’
You are not the first male celebrity to be labelled or rumoured to be ‘gay,’ many others like Kanye West, Tyler Perry, DJ Cleo, Arthur Mafokate etc. the list goes on have also been erroneously labelled as such.
Funny enough we never hear of any black gay man ever complain of being accused to be “straight” by people in general. What this means is that “straight” is the presumed default. So, while the gay man must internalise, come to terms with and present his sexuality back out into the world, the straight man simply has to be born. Everyone is straight until proven guilty.
I have noticed that you are a Christian, I am a born again Christian too. To quote the article, “Theo said his Christian beliefs helped him get through the ordeal. ‘My Christian roots grounded me. I remembered that Jesus too was accused with unfounded accusations and that he could get me through this. It was in my hope that I gained my strength. As long as I know who I am.’”
I not sure if you know that theologically-driven homophobia, aided by black Christian ideology, supports a strong and exaggerated sense of masculinity within black communities that, along with homophobia, takes a significant but generally unexamined psychic and social toll on people’s lives like me who happen to be black and gay.
These forces adversely shape the lives not only of black gay/bisexual men but also those of black heterosexual males and females. Hence today as a black Christian heterosexual man you feel aggrieved with the constant rumour mill of your sexuality that doesn’t want to go away. You also felt it necessary to highlight out in your interview that you were Christian.
Black churches in South Africa constitute a significant source of the homophobia that pervades black communities. Religion-based homophobia in our country based on the misinterpreted Bible has been used fuel hatred against the gay and lesbian children of God. Too many times people in South Africa hold up their “Christianity” as a reason to discriminate against and promote prejudice toward gay people, rather than as a call to extend greater understanding, compassion, empathy, generosity and love toward us.
Lastly, I would like to exhort you, please do not add to the prejudice against homosexuals by considering it as an insult enough to “break you”, when mistaken to be gay, when you know that you are not.
By Cameron Modisane. Follow him on Twitter.