Nondumiso Msimanga, Beverley Ditsie and Professor Tiffany Willoughby Herard, panelists speaking at the celebration of universal rights at the University of Pretoria. Picture: Virgilatte Gwangwa

VIRGILATTE GWANGWA 
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SELF love at the age of 46 has taken a long time and now I can finally say, I belong to this body. 

I have had to learn what it means to have people spit at you on the streets because you are lesbian. And what it means to belong in your own body. 

These are the words of the lesbian activist and filmmaker Beverley Palesa Ditsi during the celebration of universal rights hosted by the University of Pretoria's Centre for Human Rights in conjunction with the Netherlands embassy at Tuks today. 

The celebration also recognised outstanding African lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) icons under the theme "The body that takes pride". 

Natalia Molebatsi and Kholeka Phuthuma rendering an opening act for the celebration of universal rights. Video Virgilatte Gwangwa


And those attending the celebration explained the theme through visual arts performances and through discussion. 

Among those on the discussion panel was Ditsie who explained that growing up she was a tomboy and saw nothing wrong with her actions until society said it was wrong. 

"I never saw anything wrong until society said it was wrong for me to kick a ball or play with boys," she said. 

When asked by those attending when one starts to be proud of their body, Ditsie said: "You become proud when you are aware that you are not proud and start working on that."