by Pearl Mbali Zulu
We often worry too much about being accepted by our families, friends, churches and communities, forgetting that it all starts within. Our external environment and physical senses mostly affect our spiritual senses, which automatically lead one not to have a beautiful soul. In most cases, the external and physical senses give negative results to one’s soul.
I remember having a conversation with one of my colleagues who is more of a mother to me. She is always there for me when I need someone to turn to. She always tells me how much she values, adores and loves me for who I am. She also sees me as one of her children.
A question came into my mind and I decided to verbalise my thoughts and asked her in that moment how she was going to feel if one of her daughters told her that she was in love with another woman. Nothing prepared me for reaction.
She screamed and said “No ways!!!
My daughter is not lesbian or bisexual.
She won’t even try to do that, not in a lifetime”
Body language speaks louder than any amount of words.
The tone of her voice and facial expression said it all. It said a lot that I wasn’t aware of.
I asked myself if she really loved me as her own or she was pretending all along. She knows who I am and what I am. To me she suddenly gave meaning the word “discrepancy”.
I didn’t expect that from her, but it became clear to me that it was about time I faced reality.
It was transparent to me that not everyone is going to accept you for who you are. I realised that yes she loved me, but only from the distance. It’s like she loved me, but she knew that she was also not attached to me forever, or by blood.
I wondered what the circumstances would have been if I was her biological daughter.
Would she have shunned me and banished me from her family or would her mother’s instinct have kicked in, and embraced me with my whole being?
My inner self is content not knowing the answer.
It all starts from within. You need to accept yourself first and the rest will follow. It’s important to remember that not everyone will accept you for who you are.
We need to love and celebrate who we are and then others can love us back. We shouldn’t allow people to bring us down. If it starts from within, no one will break us down.
They might swear at us as much as they want to, beat us up, rape and murder us, but they won’t get to our souls. Our inner beauty will remain and it will be expressed in every special way.
My point is that not everyone whom you think loves you does. Most of our LGBTI sisters and brothers are abused (physically, verbally, spiritually etc.) by family members, friends, strangers, etc.
Yes we may love, but we shouldn’t trust too much.
Be confident in who you are, because you have a purpose to serve. If you love yourself enough, other people’s negative comments will not affect you in any way.
The inner part of you may be invisible, but it plays a huge role.
Let us continue to be the Lively, Guilt-free, Blissful, Top and Immense community.
That’s my LGBTI for you!!!
About the author
Pearl Mbali Zulu, a black lesbian artist and activist, was born in KwaThema on December 18, 1988.
She started expressing herself through portraiture of individuals. She was good at what she did but her work lacked a deeper meaning, it did not quite speak to anything yet.
That is not to say she was devoid of passion, quite the contrary.
In 2009 Mbali realized that she could use her art to quell some of the misunderstanding and ignorance around issues concerning the LGBTI community and all forms of violence towards women and children. She got the urge to create artworks that would educate and create awareness in the community.
She understood that her target population were not too fond of reading but liked visuals instead. Visuals are a conversation piece and they always stimulate conversation, whether good or polarizing.
Her first step was to attend art classes offered by local artist, Pat Sithole, at the KwaThema Library. On conclusion Sithole advised Mbali to further her studies. She had witnessed the potential, passion and determination that she had and knew that she could earn a visual arts designation.
She already had a National Diploma in Business Management so she enrolled at the University of Johannesburg for a National Diploma in Fine Arts.
Before she did her 3rd year of study, she lost her grandfather and Aunt who were both breadwinners of the family. That meant that her sponsor, her sister, who was responsible for her tuition and materials, became the breadwinner and could no longer afford them.
Mbali explained her situation and was able to transfered from the University of Johannesburg to the University of South Africa where she will be able to complete her studies.
David Paton, a senior lecturer and Head of Department (HoD) in the department of Visual Arts describes her as a diligent and participative individual.
She managed to get a job, which means she can now pay for her fees.
She is also a freelancer. She is currently doing a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts at the University of South Africa (UNISA).
A lot of people, situations and places inspire her work. Fallen LGBTI members inspired her to create more vivid and meaningful work.
Zanele Muholi, a South African photographer and visual activist from Umlazi is a huge influence to her. Mbali is featuring in Muholi’s Faces & Phases (2010).
There are also quite numbers of artists who inspire her as well.
Mbali aims at creating awareness and educating the viewers through the use of her art. She believes people’s negative perceptions; prejudice and mind sets may change after viewing her thought provoking work. Her art work expresses what victim feels as well as their immediate family, friend s and community.
Mbali who played soccer for 14 years when she was younger was also crowned
Mr Lesbian, Ekurhuleni in 2012.