"Although I have still encountered homophobia and biphobia this year, I have reached a point in my life where I know that I am who I am," writes Luke Waltham in our #MyQueerLife series.

June is now globally seen as International Pride Month. As part of International Pride Month, the Cape Argus will be carrying stories from members of the LGBTQIA+ community to share insights and challenges they face:

#MyQueerLife: Being bisexual is not a phase, and it’s not a choice

I am bisexual.

A few years ago, I would not have had the courage to have been able to say that, but here I am, being unapologetically and proudly me. A common thread in many of our stories, as members of the LGBTQ+ community, is the process of finding yourself and being able to accept yourself.

Today, I can say that I do accept myself and I am able to express myself.

However, my story did not start like that. In fact, it was quite the opposite. At the age of 14, I went on a church youth camp, and was victimised and mocked for “acting gay”. The individuals, being hyper masculine men, did not like the fact that I was different to them. Instead, I faced homophobic comments at a time when I did not even know that I was attracted to more than one gender. 

During the last few years in high school, I recognised and acknowledged my sexual orientation. Of course, people at my school loved gossiping and deciphering whether a person was not straight. It seemed like some individuals’ hobby, the act of othering any person who identified other than “straight”. 

Now, at university, I am happy to express myself and I am lucky to be surrounded by good friends and colleagues who support me too. I have hosted and supported a number of LGBTQ+ pride events. I’ve organised a Queer Night with my human rights team, and have facilitated discussions about Queer Rights. I believe it is crucial to have discussions and events on LGBTQ+ awareness so that we can feel included and empowered in oppressive communities. 

Although I have still encountered homophobia and biphobia this year, I have reached a point in my life where I know that I am who I am, and hateful words and actions against me should never convince me otherwise. It’s this thought process which I aim to spread so that our entire LGBTQ+ community can feel empowered too.

Luke Waltham is a writer, blogger and activist for mental health and human rights. He is currently the Chairperson of the United Nations Association of South Africa at Stellenbosch University.