This combined International Pride Month and Youth Month saw the African Queer Renaissance emerge in a studio apartment in Johannesburg on the 16th of June.
Preparation met opportunity as a group of queer people gathered in the apartment along with a young designer by the name of Malungelo Myeza for a Pride-themed photo shoot.
Malungelo defines his fashion brand, The House of Myeza as a home for creatives that manifests new identities through the diverse melting pot of cultures in South Africa with the intent of building a global community.
His limited Pride Collection is Malungelo’s moment of coming into his queerness. He chronicles his story of recently disclosing his queer identity to his family and how he felt unseen in that moment. This is a reality for many queers in South Africa, hence he uses an unapologetic fashion statement to highlight his queer story.
Malungelo intentionally places queer bodies at the centre of his work. This is a form of healing. Coming out and standing in your queerness is an act of bravery and a disruption of the cishet patriarchal world.
For the photo shoot, queer bodies of different identities painted their faces in colourful makeup, courtesy of the talented Lloyd M Beauty.
There we were, young black and queer people in this industrial and stylish flat echoing with gay laughs as we took turns doing final fittings.
“Like on the Ballroom catwalk, we posed in front of the camera…”
The House Of Myeza garments we wore represented the rainbow colours of the LGBTQIA+ flag, each tailored to everyone’s body type; an emphatic stance on queer pride and visibility, showcasing the intentionality behind Malungelo’s work.
A house photography studio was set up by K edits and Monde_cxxp_loko in the lounge with lights, a single chair and a couch. Malungelo also set up his sewing machine in the room to alter the clothes.
We took pictures as though we were taking a new family portrait! A chosen family that we as a community pride ourselves in.
Like on the Ballroom catwalk, we posed in front of the camera to reveal our unique and special identities. That day we took our power back as black queer youth and asserted ourselves through this African fashion brand.
The shoot featured me, The Queer Superhero – Mond Motadi; Lesego Makinita, aka Lebonza; Hloni Mokhethi; Khulile McMelanin; Goodwell Mathye; and Luyanda, aka Gay yabantu. Each one from a different background and each with a queer story to tell.
On 16 June, when the country awakened to the issues affecting the youth, we chose queerness – something we are often not given the chance to choose. We chose to celebrate international Pride Month by using fashion to articulate our individual queer identities; fashion used as activism.
The house of Myeza promises to be a fashion brand that is here to stay and deliver, reflecting the resurgence of queer lives in Africa.