Over the weekend, a panel of members from the LGBTQIA+ community detailed their challenges and experiences growing up in black townships. Picture: Mthuthuzeli Ntseku/Cape Argus

Cape Town - Challenges facing the LGBTQIA+ community in black townships came to the forefront over the weekend, when a group of young people in Langa congregated for an open dialogue.

A panel of members from the LGBTQIA+ community detailed their challenges and experiences growing up in black townships.

Xola Qinga from LoveLife said stigmatisation of individuals from the LGBTIQA+ community was one of the most pressing issues faced by young people, not only in schools and communities but in their homes.

“Langa, one of the first townships in Cape Town, has a diverse mix of people, young and old, but what about other people? What about other people still living under the cloud of stigmatisation due to their sexual orientations or views?” Qinga asked.

“With the recent inclusion and rights recognition of the LGBTQIA+ in South Africa and around the world, many still face marginalisation and stigmatisation within our culture, societies, churches, homes and friendship circles, hence it was important to hold a dialogue of this nature,” he added.

He said communities were divided about issues of same-sex relationships and to most it was still taboo to even hold discussions about it.

A former groundbreaker at LoveLife, Simphiwe Vusi said being a gay man in a black community was interesting and challenging at the same time.

“Growing up in a community where gender norms are instilled at a young age and not to deviate from these set norms, regardless of one’s personal feelings or misgivings, is one of the challenges,” Vusi said.

“A phobia due to a lack of knowledge and experiences, due to traditions and customs is also our challenge. The name-calling, where most still use derogatory words to refer to gay and lesbian people and in most extreme cases the corrective rapes where young lesbian woman and gay men endure being raped by men that claim they are fixing them,” he said.

Over the weekend, a panel of members from the LGBTQIA+ community detailed their challenges and experiences growing up in black townships. Picture: Mthuthuzeli Ntseku/Cape Argus

Yonela Simetu from Langa Film School, the producer of the My Transgender Life documentary, said there were many misconceptions attached to the LGBTIQA+ community and were most as a result of lack of education.

“Many go as far as throwing at you with Bible verses. One even gets ostracised from community activities or worse, some go as far as saying we are leading a demonic lifestyle,” he said.

However, Vusi said there was enough education about the LGBTQIA+ community all over social networks and in schools, but there were those that still held on the traditional gender norms and qualities. 

“We tend to shy away from discussing such topics at a community level, thus most people still ask about what LGBTQIA+ community is,” he said.

“As a former groundbreaker leading LGBTQIA conversations in schools, I noticed that stigmatisation of gay learners by other learners and teachers was still rife, both directly and indirectly.

“It is still early days. The seed of acceptance will not automatically grow overnight. You need to nurture and water that seed so that it could bear the fruits that you want,” Vusi said.

“Fact is, not all people will accept our lifestyle, but if we, the young people can foster tolerance at a young age and find common ground, it is only then that we can see improvements,” Qinga added.

@Mtuzeli

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Cape Argus