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: 'I refuse to dim my light because some are uncomfortable'
I have always known that I was different; I just didn’t know what name to attach it to.
Growing up in very religious Catholic family was tough, but not so much. I learnt from an early age to hide parts of myself that my family didn’t necessarily like or approve of. I sat through homophobic jokes, hate speech and made sure I was not noticed or rather I didn’t reveal anything incriminating about myself.
Education got me out of that environment into what I thought would have been “My Best Life” – a new city with open minded people.
Johannesburg gave me such freedom; I started thinking maybe I can finally be myself.
I went to my first gay club and started looking for a “real” relationship until I discovered that within my community there were still “unacceptable”/”unattractive” traits.
I reacted by doing what I normally do when I want acceptance - hide parts of myself….
This took me down a path of severe depression and anxiety.
At my lowest low, I made the decision that changed my life. I would live as authentically as possible, even if that meant I would be alone for the rest of my life.
I, at 25, had to learn to love myself…it's ridiculous now that I think about.
I drew strength from those that chose to live their truth than cower behind fear of rejection, hate and death. I drew strength from the likes of Marsha P. Johnson, Simon Nkoli, Noxolo Nogwaza - it's a long, long list.
Most of them gave their lives, so we can LIVE without fear or shame - some of our brothers and sisters are still living in fear and as a member of this community I refuse to dim my light just because some people are uncomfortable.
Being Queer, means freedom to me. Freedom to be, to live, to love.