The discredited belief that not having a loving father can lead to boys becoming gay has been raised in the South African media again.
Last week, the Sowetan ran an interview with social media star Thulasizwe ‘LaSizwe’ Dambuza in which he was quoted as saying that he became gay because of an absent father.
Dambuza, 18, has more than 250,000 social media followers and is the brother of TV host, actress and radio personality Khanyi Mbau.
In the interview, the Sowetan claimed that he said: “Because my father (TV personality Khanyi Mbau’s father) didn’t raise me, I am who I am today. My environment socialised me to connect with my feminine side over my masculinity. I grew up peeing like the females in my house.”
Dambuza was further quoted: “I believe if my father was hands on in my life I wouldn’t be gay, not that I blame him or regret who I am, it’s just an observation.”
The statements immediately ignited a furious debate on social media about the issue. Dambuza himself claims that the comments were taken out of context.
He told Mambaonline: “It’s not because of not having a father figure that makes you gay, it’s by birth. You are born gay. It’s not that you choose to be gay.”
The controversial theory was also recently in the news following a furore about a teen advice book written by Christian relationship “expert” Gretha Wiid. She too claimed that boys become gay because they do not have a loving or present father.
Many on social media have pointed out that a large number of families in South Africa do not have an active father figure, and yet gay people remain a small minority.
Johan Meyer, Health Manager at OUT LGBT Well-being in Pretoria agrees, and warned of the dangers of these misguided views. “They fuel the belief that a gay person is broken and can be fixed. And it in a way it perpetuates the idea that being gay is a choice, which it is not.”
The absent father theory is often used by religious conservatives to justify the use of so-called “conversion therapy” which aims to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBT people. Major medical and mental health organisations around the world have condemned the practice as ineffective and harmful.
Meyer added: “There is enough scientific evidence to show that people are in fact born gay. It’s not an absent father that makes one gay.”