My motto in life has always been if they ask, answer. But some of the questions people ask are just too ridiculous and offensive to deserve a response. My boyfriend and I were entertaining a bunch of my friends and talking about life and love. One of my male hetero friends asks us, “So who’s the man and who’s the woman?” I’m sure the look on my face must have scared him because he very quickly began to apologise and try to make the situation better. He failed dismally! Seriously hetero population, between my boyfriend and I, do either of us look like we have a vagina between our legs? If you’re not sure, here’s a clue – we’re both gay and don’t like vagina. Asking a gay couple that question is playing to hetero-normative stereotypes of the world and quite frankly that pisses me off. My partner and I are exactly that, partners. The beauty of a true partnership is that our roles are fluid and dynamic and change to fit the situation and our whims. That’s where a gay couple are lucky I guess. Being two men or women in a relationship already breaks the gender norms that society tries to put people in. We are free to define our own relationship and our roles in whatever way suites our needs. So once again I will reiterate that I’m not the woman in the relationship and neither is my boyfriend; we are partners and that, my friends, is the definition of love.
It’s May 17, and that means IDAHOBIT. For those of you that need a translation today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. May 17 was chosen because in 1990, homosexuality was removed from the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Disease. IDAHOBIT, more than Pride, is a global event whose main aim is to raise awareness about the endemic heterosexism and homophobia of society. Living in Zimbabwe as a black, gay, man, I am aware everyday of how entrenched homophobia and heterosexism can cause immense heartache and pain in many people’s lives. The hatred is media and government sponsored. There is very little space given for gay-friendly voices. And anytime anyone expresses a comment that is remotely anti-hate, they are accused of being gay. That is the society I live in. But as Daniel Radcliffe put it “you don’t have to be gay to be a supporter, you just have to be human”. I can’t believe I’m quoting Harry Potter!
This hatred sometimes becomes internalised leading to self-loathing and in the extreme cases suicide. I have a friend who killed himself a few months ago. His suicide took us all by surprise. I’m not saying that there weren’t any other underlying issues that lead to him taking his life, but the prevailing cloud of hate that we live under surely didn’t do much to help the situation.
I have nothing really to celebrate today. All I can do is stand up proud and be counted as member of amazing global family. All I can do is shout out loud that this is who I am; I am not sick, I don’t need to be saved and my existence does not and should not threaten you or your families. People let’s stop the hate. Love and let love…
Happy Gay Day! Today remember to make a homosexual smile or let a homosexual make you smile!
Recently, I was filling in a form and ticking all the different boxes the Big Man uses to define who I am – male, black, in a relationship, Christian. The one box that wasn’t there and I would love to tick would be gay, but alas, living in Zimbabwe means this isn’t a label I can own. You see labels aren’t just about what other say about you; they help you feel like you belong to a group. The LGBTI(Q) (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Inter-sex, Queer and Questioning) community is one of the most invisible in this wonderful land of ours. Our invisibility means we are always excluded from all processes of national and health and personal development. Our relationships aren’t uplifted and supported by the community at large. Our lives, concerns and problems aren’t afforded the same space in public discourse as those of our straight counterparts. When we do make the national discourse, it is always negative stories about sodomy or same-sex marriage. But even in those stories the terms gay or homosexual or LGBTI(Q) never appear. Names and labels are important. They allow individuals to feel part of a community; they allow the general community to engage with and identify the named other. Getting these labels to be part of the national conversation is the first step in ensuring that the LGTBI(Q) community is treated with the respect and dignity all individuals and groups deserve.