Participating panellists at eThekwini’s dialogue exploring homosexuality in black communities, Khaya Dladla (GC from SABC 1 soapie uZalo), socialite and actor Thah Simelane and Lwazi Blose (DJ Diva Kadach). PICTURE: NQOBILE MBONAMBI

Social cohesion will remain a pipe dream if society continues to marginalise the LGBTI community. 

This was the sentiment of Uzalo actor Khaya Dladla, speaking at an eThekwini Municipality dialogue exploring homosexuality in black communities.

“Being gay is not a job, it’s like breathing. You can’t hate me for breathing.”

Dladla said social cohesion would not be realised if gay people were disregarded as members of society. 

The event was hosted by the city’s Parks and Recreation and Culture unit at the Durban ICC on Tuesday. Unit head Thembinkosi Ngcobo said it was part of a series leading up to the 3rd Social Cohesion Conference in May. 

“The conference will be centred on black history. It will look into the contributions made by black people in the construction and reconstruction of the country. Contributions which history denied, vilified or made less significant,” said Ngcobo. 

A lot of good had happened since 1994, “But there is no way to reconcile black and white, man and woman, black people inside and outside the country without those of a different sexual orientation. One way to celebrate April 27 is to learn to accept those who are different,” said Ngcobo.

Radio and television personality Somizi Mhlongo praised the municipality for opening up the dialogue. 

“But what is more important is that our bad experiences be addressed where they are happening. 

“How gay people are treated in places like this, in the suburbs, in high-class places, is very different to the experiences of that gay boy in KwaMashu, uMlazi… we need to go out there and meet people and feel their heartbeat.”

Socialite and actor Thah Simelani shared his experience of discrimination. He recalled failing a subject while at university in the Free State multiple times because a lecturer hated him for being gay. 

“Once I’d qualified, I was refused placement because the principal at the school did not want a gay teacher on his staff,” said Simelani. 

He also said the LGBTI community needed to do some introspection. “As gay people we don’t always like each other, we don’t support or develop each other.” 

In a country where people’s lives are taken and threatened because of their sexual orientation, hate is more than a word. Gagasi FM radio presenter Diva Cadash knows all too well the manifestation of this hate. Attacked during the third invasion at his home in uMlazi last year, he was strangled, stabbed three times and left for dead. 

The “diva” – real name Lwazi Blose-Cele – called for education to inculcate a culture of tolerance and acceptance in people from as young as possible.