Mamba’s 21 most-popular queer stories of 2019

What a tumultuous year 2019 turned out to be: a stagnant local economy, political upheaval here and around the world and a host of natural disasters portending the frightening impact of climate change.

On the queer front, it was a mixed bag. There were some advances in LGBTQ rights in countries such as Angola and Botswana and backward steps for others like Brunei. Sadly, our community continued to face discrimination, abuse and violence across the globe. 

As we enter a New Year, here are the articles that you – our readers – were most gripped by in 2019. It’s a fascinating snapshot of the year that was.

21. Fezekile Cokile | From Harry Potter to Generations

Meet Fezekile Cokile, a talented young gay writer who’s using his work for Generations, one of South Africa’s biggest soapies, to promote queer visibility, one word at a time. MambaOnline sat down with Cokile to find out more about his career and the importance of using mainstream platforms to advocate for representation.

Read the full article here

20. Bottoms on top and tops who bottom

We owe it to ourselves to explore what sex can be for us as gay men. We should be limited only by our desires and imagination, not stereotypes about tops and bottoms, wrote Motlatsi Motseoile in this opinion piece. The article certainly got people talking about how we are often stuck in seemingly heteronormative role-playing.

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19. A look back at homosexuality on South African TV screens

In South Africa, television shows have often been at the forefront of making gays and lesbians a little more visible and human in the homes of millions of viewers. Angie Gallagher took a look at how far we’ve progressed when it comes to inclusion and representation on the small screen.

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18. SA’s Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi shuts down a homophobe

South Africa’s Zozibini Tunzi, who was recently crowned Miss Universe, firmly backed the LGBTQ community by taking down a homophobe on social media. The stunning 26-year-old called out an offensive tweet and made it clear where she stands on inclusion and equality. Yes, we’re now even more in love with this remarkable role model!

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17. Johannesburg Pride moves to Sandton for 30th edition

Johannesburg Pride surprised the city’s LGBTQ community when the organisers announced that this year’s edition – the 30th – would take place in Sandton. Some couldn’t believe that the country’s business hub would actually close off one of its busiest streets for the event while others criticised the location as being elitist. Despite this, the Pride drew a massive crowd in October, hosting a parade and festive street party enjoyed by thousands.

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16. Phuti Lekoloane, SA’s 1st openly gay soccer player: I don’t regret coming out

South Africa’s first openly gay male soccer player, Phuti Lekoloane, was devastated after being rejected by fellow footballers because of his sexuality. The 27-year-old goalkeeper revealed in August that he’d been faced yet again with the stark reality of bigotry and discrimination in the lockerroom.

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15. Getroud Met Rugby’s first same-sex wedding on an Afrikaans soapie

Getroud Met Rugby (Married To Rugby) broke new ground on South African TV by broadcasting what was said to be the first same-sex wedding on an Afrikaans soapie. The fictional couple married in an emotional scene that got naysayers and fans of the show talking. In our article we looked at how the producers came up with the storyline.

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14. Concern mounts over fate of missing gay Joburg man

This story, about a gay couple shattered by crime, broke the collective heart of the LGBTQ community. Wayne Johnson, 43, went missing in June in Johannesburg, leaving his devastated husband Charl Smith in a hellish limbo. To-date, despite suspects being apprehended on abduction and hijacking charges, Johnson has still not been found. His family and husband continue to live in hope that his fate will one day be known.

Read the full article here

13. Angola decriminalises homosexuality, bans LGBTQ discrimination

This was a great way to kick off the year! In January, Angola became the first country to decriminalise homosexuality in 2019. Lawmakers voted to adopt a new penal code that excludes the colonial-era law that banned “vices against nature”, which was widely understood to relate to gay and lesbian sexuality. MPs also prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment and the provision of services,

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12. Cedric Fourie on masculinity and being an LGBTQ ally

In an exclusive interview with MambaOnline, Skeem Saam actor Cedric Fourie addressed his much speculated-about relationship with vlogger Lasizwe. He also spoke candidly about being a proud ally of the LGBTQ community, what masculinity means to him and why he decided to support a campaign to help men who have sex with men (MSM) prioritise their health.

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11. Meet Siba, Miss South Africa’s first queer contestant

History was made when Sibabalwe Gcilitshana became the first-ever openly queer woman to participate in the Miss South Africa contest. The 24-year-old, who is known as Siba, was revealed to be one of the top 16 finalists in July. While she did not ultimately win the title, Gcilitshana will always be remembered for her bravery and for being an LGBTQ groundbreaker.

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10. Deputy President: SA must “shut up” about Uganda’s gay death penalty bill

In November, Deputy President David Mabuza betrayed our constitutional values when he said that the government should not act against Uganda’s persecution of LGBTQ people. He suggested, instead, that LGBTQ rights are not universal and are dependent on each country’s values, religion and culture. His dangerous comments, including that “we should be decent enough to keep our mouth shut,” in the National Council of Provinces was a national disgrace. Mabuza has yet to adequately address the matter. 

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9. Outed? Is the Sultan of Brunei’s son gay?

The world responded with outrage when Brunei joined the disgraceful handful of countries that punish homosexuality with the death penalty when it enacted a “cruel and inhuman” law in March. The law was backed by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the authoritarian billionaire ruler of Brunei. It was soon after rumoured that the Sultan’s own son is gay, although he will likely never face the wrath of the law because of his royal status. Hypocrisy much?

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8. Man gay-bashed on Durban beach for wearing Pride t-shirt

A birthday celebration went horribly wrong for a young gay Durban teacher from Amanzimtoti when he was brutally attacked on the beach by three violent homophobes. Planning to meet a friend to celebrate his 21st birthday and wearing a Durban Pride t-shirt, Michael Anderson was choked, kicked and punched in the face and head while being called homophobic slurs.

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7. “Isolated and alone”: Gifted Joburg LGBTQ teen succumbs to suicide

The awful impact of anti-queer stigma, was made horrifically real for a Johannesburg family after 19-year-old Adam Seef from Norwood cut his wrists and threw himself from a hotel balcony to his death. A haunting suicide note released by his grieving parents revealed that the medical student had been grappling with depression and the fear that his sexuality would make him stand out and not be accepted.

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6. Boer Soek ’n Vrou’s Damian gets most letters (Watch)

The inclusion of the first openly gay contestant on the popular Afrikaans dating reality show Boer Soek ‘n Vrou generated a huge amount of interest from our readers. It makes sense considering that the farming community is seen as a deeply conservative one. The very likeable Damian Engelbrecht was an instantly popular addition to the show and, off all the participants ended up receiving the most letters from potential beaus. He recently made headlines again when he passionately called out homophobic Christians

Read the full article here

5. Wade Schaerer – No shame about living with HIV

The ignorant stigma surrounding being HIV positive continues to hamper the fight against the virus, that’s why role models are so important. Step forward, Wade Schaerer, a gay airline cabin manager and HIV/Aids advocate. He actively promotes an affirming attitude to living with HIV, as well as treatment, testing and prevention methods like PrEP. He spoke to MambaOnline about what inspired him to take a stand.

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4. ‘Homophobic’ tweet by Loyiso Bala to his brother is heartbreaking

A birthday tweet by singer and devout Christian Loyiso Bala to his gay brother Phelo went viral on Twitter – for all the wrong reasons! While affirming his love for Phelo, Loyiso for some reason decided to add that he was “in no position to judge u but … always point you to Christ.” The star at first defended his comment before eventually apologising and stating that “everyone should be allowed to love whoever they want to.”

Read the full article here

3. Steve Hofmeyr lashes out at Charlize Theron over trans daughter

No stranger to controversy, South African singer turned offensive political commentator Steve Hofmeyr lashed out against Charlize Theron’s decision to accept her transgender daughter’s identity. In April the Oscar-winning actor said that she embraced her daughter’s decision to identify as a girl at the age of three. While many praised Theron for her affirming stance, Hofmeyr and many of his transphobic social media supporters attacked her for her parenting choices.

Read the full article here

2. Eastern Cape LGBTQ woman takes own life after rape

September saw a stark reminder of the devastating personal impact of hate crime attacks on members of South Africa’s LGBTQ community. It was reported that Sue Ann Klaasen, a young LGBTQ woman from Uitenhage, committed suicide after being raped by a group of men. To make matters worse, there were claims that the community was protecting the suspects while others disputed that she had been raped at all. 

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1. Here are the top queer South African celebrities and entertainers

South African LGBTQ celebrities have generally been wary of coming out to the public. Despite our progressive constitution, we have relatively few celebrity role models. Which is no doubt why our most popular story of 2019, was our list of the most influential and impactful queer South African celebrities and entertainers – past and present. Some readers approved while others disputed our lineup but it all made for a fascinating debate.

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