Features

IF BEING GAY IS A CHOICE, WHEN DID YOU CHOOSE TO BE STRAIGHT?

Wed, 10 April 2013

Tshepo Modisane and Thoba Sithole

The recent groundbreaking gay traditional wedding of Tshepo “Cam” Modisane and Thoba Sithole in the KwaZulu-Natal town of Stanger has sent cultural and social shockwaves around the country. Delani Majola, a journalism student from Stanger, shares his experience.

Before “that wedding,” as my community has come to refer to it, my hometown was a very small and conservative one; a place where I’ve lived most of my gay life. Before Thoba Sithole married Cam Modisane, the love of his life, and gave rise to 'that wedding', I remember feeling a sense of loneliness there.

I was nicknamed all sorts of derogatory names such as “boy-girl”, “shim” and “sis bhuti”. I remember how, on more than one occasion, my single mother had to come to my primary school, angrily demanding that the kids who labelled me with such names and interfered with my love for school be disciplined.

It wasn’t only primary school, because these comments grew with me; trailing like a bride's train on a narrow aisle. I was not the only homosexual; there was also Thoba himself and a few others, closeted and out.

In high school I remember being ridiculed so badly I couldn’t help but cry and resented having to return to my history class. The guy who cracked that joke scored a few laughs, but he also made feel that I was blatantly abnormal.

The day after Thoba married his love, I got in a taxi and encountered a heated Sunday morning debate about the “filth that was the wedding of two men”. The argument lasted until the taxi reached its final destination, with the general consensus being that “young men now chose to be gay to avoid responsibilities”.

I also picked up that “kids should be beaten up” to remove them of their gayness. If that doesn’t work, “axe them!”

While I’m pretty sure that the latter was only said out of anger, I sat in my little seat and remembered the kind words of encouragement from the Dladla (Thoba's maternal) family. A family who have grown to accept their son for who he is and hope that he is happy and that other people too will come to accept his homosexuality.

I found more comments on the issue in the queue at my local wholesaler, another from an angry passersby, and another at the bus stop (by now you realise the impact that this wedding had).

As small as Stanger is and as flamboyant as I tend to be, we gay people hide ourselves in public out of fear of such negative reactions. Fine, I sashay as I walk, and prance too sometimes, but I’m not really free and comfortable among other people.

I’m reminded of a practice in the West African Igbo culture where it was believed that having twins or multiple births was a bad omen. The one baby would be killed, leaving behind the other; proving that, like in the case of homosexuality, ignorance rules.

If being gay was a choice I would not willingly want to be compared to evil spirits when I know my intentions are good. I would not want to be detested by boys who avoid walking with me in public out of fear of being rumoured to be dating me. I certainly would not willingly want to have my siblings stripped of their innocence by frequently being asked “how I do it” or “do I really have two genitals”.

I looked forward to attending my first gay wedding. I was happy that such a step was being taken by my fellow homosexuals and I also hoped to catch a glimpse of a wedding fever that maybe someday would be mine.
 
Looking at the newlyweds, I was surprised that the wedding was not only a beautiful one but was, in essence, a real wedding. It was no circus or a “big fat buffoonery,” as the ladies in the taxi called it, but it was a union between two people who genuinely love each other, accompanied by others who enjoyed seeing them as happy.

As both sides of the families spoke fondly of acceptance and all forms of love, gay and straight, I remembered what my mother had said to me in her acceptance of my sexual orientation; “that no matter what people are saying, you are gay and you are still my son”.

These words guide me even in my darkest moments of homophobic attacks; that I am human before I am a homosexual. What Thoba and Cam did, and what we as homosexuals constantly do, is come out to the world on a daily basis.

If I could choose to be straight, would I then not want to spare myself that task?

I remember an old high school friend consoling me as I wept after being tormented yet again. He said that ignorance in our conservative African culture makes our people afraid of things we do not understand.

Let us look beyond ignorance. Homosexuals have always been there; they’ve just been hiding out of fear.

by Delani Majola

Delani is a final year journalism student at the Durban University of Technology.

    

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tsholo 5/9/2013 5:06:16 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Hi guys

Actually I'm a girl and in love with a gay man. He doesn't look gay but I;ve heard that his gay.
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Fresco 4/23/2013 2:06:32 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
there is no way you can run away from responsibility because of the big hearts we have in helping people at all times, some of us has children also.
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Francoise Jordaan 4/18/2013 10:17:46 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Real good reading! Thank you.
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4/18/2013 9:25:44 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
I wish all the best.al people we are children of god no matter what .I wish to see ada marriage like this dis u make a mark guys
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Gordon Khoza 4/18/2013 12:29:03 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Guys I also wish you all the best, so far you are role models to many of us, and don't ever look back, keep on keeping on, all the best and respect the vows you made please, I for one is so proud of you, big up.
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Sweet Moola 4/18/2013 12:18:17 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
This is too beautiful !
Im happy for you guys & u looked Fab in ur traditional clothes.
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Sphamandla 4/17/2013 10:24:25 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
I was happy to be part of and put together an experience for all visitors to the province, for the special occasion. It was quite refreshing how, from the position of entertainment and promoters, there was no discremination against the nature of the events that they were to host etc. However, at the Stanger event, my personal experience wasnt too exciting as there were the few that looked on in rage and some that voiced their rage.
This is a matter of the unknown, to the communities around Stanger - rural Zululand as a whole.
Delani, twas great seeing you.
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boyjack123 4/13/2013 4:33:21 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Brave thing to. May they have a good long life together
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Tebatso 4/13/2013 9:50:38 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
I am impressed. This experience demonstrates how borders can be mended that anybody may be able to find themselves at home with what they are.
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sikhumbuzo 4/12/2013 8:01:04 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Wishing them a life filled with love and blessings
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tshepo 4/11/2013 8:19:32 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Congratulations Guys, it high time society accepted gay people, and sould stop ostrocizing and making them feel as though they are psychiatrically challanged. If 2 men love each other, let them feel free to practice and live they way they want, its their constitutional right.
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kaone 4/11/2013 7:23:58 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
Thats so inspiring.....our people are so ignorant,as i speak my partna of 6yrs is being kicked out by his own father because of the message he received frm me , some 1 snooped in hs phone to c'whos ths "bbe" hes usualy talking to, only to find out is a man like him, so we might move in, my question is, would our families choose to abandone us for the sake of what people will say when they find out that their sons are gays?

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Freddy 4/11/2013 6:35:15 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
great gays congratulation!! All the best for your future!! Fred
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thulani 4/11/2013 3:04:59 PM Down Up Reply REPLY
i am very honoured and proud to see that the wedding took place in a village where homosexuality is percieved as a sin. and more from the zulu clan because they can label the hell out of you as if you are an evil spirit. only to find out uthat they also practise that after nine..the challenge that im putting to my / our community is that of"what about your sons that sleep with us and expect some thing in return after the encounter?"

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4/11/2013 11:50:27 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
I think I know which old high school friend u talking about Delani.I told her u were also @ da wedding
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Ayanda 4/11/2013 11:41:35 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Thanks 4 da positive comments peeps.Thoba is my brother and I'm happy 4 him 4 being so brave.We as his family love him a lot and support him 100%.
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Nosipho 4/11/2013 9:39:32 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Wow Delani wat a lovely article. Times have indeed changed, but our people still choose to remain in the times of our forefathers where gay marriages wer forbiden. Its the 21st centuary for cryng out loud. People need to accept the changes and the way the world is now. Im all for same sex marriages. If they happy, then why not? All the best to Thoba and Cam, may they grow old together and prove to South Africa that thy can do this because its based on love, and not about running away from responsibilities as o'nondaba are saying.
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Thabile 4/11/2013 9:26:35 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
Didn't know ?young men now chose to be gay to avoid responsibilities? that a first for me. . . I do not get why people feel they have a say in other people's lives/ sexuality my motto is just 'DO YOU'. . .
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Mbali 4/11/2013 9:26:22 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
i have gay frnds nd i wudnt change dem if i cud, thier human lyk all of us and should be respected for who they are not what they are
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Maud 4/11/2013 9:25:05 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
wow amazing i like good one my friend

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basschef 4/11/2013 8:38:38 AM Down Up Reply REPLY
two brave young men. I wish them long lasting happiness.
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