“It is a story about my coming out, its more significant than any part of
my life history”
Being who I am should not compromise who you are. The road to coming out was not easy. I was born in Zimbabwe in 1992 September 12, and grew up in the depth of a ghetto. My parents were decent enough to provide us with an opportunity to study at an A school. I never thought being lesbian would always be a miserable life style. Not until I dropped out of the closet at the age of 14 in the year 2006. What a gruesome experience!
My name is Tinashe Wakapila, Tinashe means God is with us, or Unathi and I was given the name on my christening day. Being a Christian and lesbian has always been a thorn in my life. It was hard being hurt by the women I loved, getting heartbroken a million times, and oh did I mention the priest preaching about homosexuality in church almost every Sunday?
Hearing that I would go to hell if I did not change really stressed me a lot, I was always sad. I was only 8 years old when I started liking girls and I did not know what to label it. Back in those days it was one of those “I don’t want anything with my best friend kind of love.” I dropped out of the closet many times but I would rush back in, because I was scared of the results that could take place if I didn’t.
The first tender time I was dropped out the closet was when I was in 3rd grade. My friend asked me to feel her soft silky socks under the table to compare them with mine. As I bent down trying to feel her socks, I touched her forbidden fruit accidentally and became excited. She screamed very loud and ran off to tell the teacher. My mum was called in immediately, after receiving the whole explanation she put me on her lap and spanked me hard on my bum. I believe it was her way of dealing with the humiliation, rather than punishing me. She hit me in front of my classmates, they laughed at me and I felt anger and hatred build up inside me.
The friend who told on me?
Well let’s just say from that day I didn’t like her as much, our friendship suffered from then on. We eventually mended our broken bridges and became friends again. She is now a bisexual woman, very much into LGBTIQA rights like me, we laugh at this story.
Grade 8 was the worst; I went to an all girls’ school. My true feelings started coming out then, as I checked out girls. My first kiss came from a cute 9th grader from my school, she was doing it to learn for boys. Whatever her reasons, I did not care. I liked it, but it marked my second coming out. I would not call it coming out, but the good term would be “found out” or “caught.” I was this cute tomboy and every girl had a crush on me. I had some girls that I liked as well, so I had a hard time choosing. I had one girl that I denied access to my heart, out me this time. She was our school prefect. Not long after having my then girlfriend, I had this first prefect scare me to death. I call it a near outing take place at school. She dragged my girlfriend and I to the principal’s office after she caught us kissing. The whole school was booing behind us. The scripture union club sang their spiritual songs as we passed them.
They chanted and said we were possessed by demons. The prefect who found us kept on shouting, “how could you kiss another girl?”
I wanted to respond to her question by saying “I was making out with my girlfriend hahaha.” I found an alternative answer and said we were just doing stage props for an upcoming school play Romeo and Juliet. I played Romeo of course and my girlfriend played Juliet. So our argument was we were practising the kissing part.
The prefect let us go scot-free. We where told that no kissing will happen in the play whatsoever. I asked, “if we were doing the play with boys, would the girl and boy kiss?” they said yes, it is appropriate. I was shocked. Whenever two people are in love hiding it is never easy, so we got caught again. That time there was no hiding, we were wrapping up our lines and actions, and I remember it like it was yesterday, with a vivid picture of what transpired.
When she came and said to me, “what if we kiss the parts we’re supposed to kiss?” (When they dim the lights and pretend we kissed). I was like, “anything to entertain people.” She insisted, and really moved closer to me saying “I’m going to kiss you right now!”
I asked her what if the teacher comes and finds us kissing, wont we be in hot soup?
She was not taking no for an answer, she said, “come on let’s be naughty.”
Before I knew it we were kissing again. The prefect, who liked me but had denied my heart, came budging in with the other cast members of Romeo and Juliet. Everyone got scared and went out and they started whispering. The prefect came to us and in a rude way asked what we were doing. My girlfriend was giggling as she buttoned her blouse.
She was giggling because she knew the prefect was like us too, she lied that we were practising our lines but it was not true because we had been told no kissing. The prefect got so mad and went on with her real story, “so you ditched me for a
junior, how could you humiliate me like that? I am a prefect,” she added gritting her teeth. I knew it was not going to end well, so I tried by all means to hush the story but both the girls where on fire. I still wish I had ran out of the school, rushed home and just disappeared, because what happened after led me to a tough teenage life growing up. Both the girls started quarrelling and the prefect took charge and led us straight to the principal’s office, because of jealousy. This time the student body was running behind us, chanting all over again. It was obvious now and I have never felt so embarrassed. As we walked down the corridors I begged her not to turn us in. The more I begged the more excited she got. I decided to shut up.
When we got to the principal’s office the prefect went in and told the principal on us, our parents were called. I felt dizzy, my heart was pounding and my palms were sweaty. Knowing that my mother is a Christian woman; I felt she would just burn me at the stack herself. My body shook uncontrollably I swear I peed myself that time.
I heard voices inside my head asking questions.
How will I explain this?
How will I get through this?
Will they get me?
I still ask and remember imagining myself running as fast as I could out of the headmistresses’ office. I imagined running to the highest school building and jumping off! Dying on the spot. My parents finding my dead body and wished they could’ve done it themselves because it was unbearable for them. I snapped out of my imagination and got in her office and waited for our parents, the disciplinary hearing committee was there, opening bibles and lecturing us with all sorts of scares because of what we had done. Both our parents got in and without further delay my girlfriend’s mother got in, came straight to me and slapped me. It shocked no one but me. Instead, they all felt pity for the lady who slapped me.
Whispering how it was wrong for me to do what I was doing with her daughter. She said, “if you do not answer why you are dragging my daughter into your satanic cult culture I’m going to beat you harder!”
I just stared at her with tears streaming down my 14 year old face; I looked down and told her I did not understand. Fear, embarrassment and homophobic comments made me cry so hard I could not stop. My mother apologised but my girlfriend’s mother did not, she asked for a transfer letter and that was the last time I saw her. My mother begged the principle not to expel me, it was a process but luckily after days of trying they did not expel. They agreed that I should go to a correctional facility (probation). I was scared, hurt, and angry. Then resorted to deathly behaviours like cutting my hand, wrist, and thighs, for me to focus on something else. It was worse when some of my aunts agreed to take me to white garment churches, being young sometimes is difficult. I went along with it because now I was convinced enough that I was bad and evil. The only place I had seen in a newspaper that I thought would help me was open to 18 year olds going up. I washed in every river I could think of and given prayer marbles etc.
Finally it was processed I had to stay in a probation centre (PC), because I really had a problem. The application got processed after my mum and dad had sat me down and asked me why I was doing it. All I said was I don’t know how it started. So in their mind it clicked that I did not like it, so I needed to be ”corrected”.
It was November 15, in 2006 when a police van came to pick me up at home. We had enjoyed a family gathering; I think it was my farewell to go for probation. Two police officers collected me one female, one male. My bags were packed and I kept asking what was happening. All I could hear were whispers; my parents were standing there agreeing to every bit of the discussion. All my relatives were whispering in each other’s ears, my aunt went on to say, “I think she was the cause, it was hard finding a job, maybe not her as such, but that male demonic spirit she is carrying.” My uncle responded by saying, “to even think she received the Holy Communion in the mass celebration.” My cousin chopped him off with an interesting statement; “I think she was taking the holy body of Christ to their temple for their devil sacrifice.” All these whispers were audible, I started questioning myself if there was even any meaning to what they were saying I was only 14 years old and found myself in the back of a police van.
We reached the PC and found that there were a few children; it had just been set up. Children assembled, jogging and marching like soldiers, “where are we?“ I asked the other girl who was in the van with me, “we are in the correctional facility,” she replied. With a shocked look I repeated the question; before she could answer she was yanked off followed by me, then led to the gate of the correctional facility. I was so lost, why was I being corrected, was it the incident that happened at school? The incident I dare not repeat. We were locked in a small room and they locked me up in a room with a girl whose correction was to stop stealing. She was so beautiful and I acknowledged it to her. She asked me why I was in and I told her my story, she feared. The following morning I woke up, stared outside the window and saw the two police officers staring at my burglar window. The tiny room I was in was not ideal for me, and the other girl farted a lot during her sleep. Every morning the room had a bad smell, they had to put me there, and they had to make me suffer.
My liking of girls was just not allowed anywhere in the country. One preacher who came to counsel us explained that our country is Christian, and does not tolerate it, including our president. I raised my hand and asked what if I was born like that? His response was readily prepared, “I guess it means your parents are cursed and being here is right for you because you will be changed.”
That night I wished I had not asked, they put me in a circle and prayed for me. Some pushed me hard I fell on the ground, when I asked them to stop they would say it is the demon being burnt. This went on for months; the fourth month on probation was really hard. The girl thief I shared my room with protested and said I was making moves on her, that I was trying to have sex with her. I got a time schedule for beatings because I needed both spiritual and physical discipline. I always cried until I had no more tears. I still cry hard when I think of it. I suffered homophobia at a tender age, when I was supposed to be up and about getting skinned knees and bruised hearts. Instead I was getting skinned buttocks from tjamboks and grilled hands for every wrong response. I learned how to lie and play innocent. When I got caught kissing a girl drastic measures were taken, landing me in a correctional facility. But when my friend was caught in her parent’s house or school classrooms with her boyfriend they just brushed it off.
In that correctional facility I met children who were thieves, sugar daddy fans, you name all the wrong issues that should not be associated with children, and I became part of them because of who I was in love with. 7 months passed and I came out of the PC. They were sure I was “corrected”. Remember you can change and stop stealing, start asking nicely. You can change from sugar daddies to liking boys your own age etc. As for me, what was I to change?
Should I be a person who forcefully loves the opposite gender?
I walked free at last and grew up very careful of who I was. I sat down when I turned 18 and I asked, “why am I oppressing myself?”
I had already paid the price with a high rate. I remember the day I got home, no one talked about this, and no one made a speech. I continued with my school and finished. I did not do well in my results because I was disturbed and lost. People just thought what a dumb girl she is. I did my diploma in secretarial and office admin, got a job, and worked while studying, so I could pay for my diploma. My mom kept suggesting that we pray together, she passed a message like, “God why did you punish me by giving me a lesbian daughter?”
It made me want to be rich quickly, to get out of my parent’s house, because every time gay issues were raised my mom in particular would ask God were she went wrong. When I got my first Job in 2009 I bought my parents thank you gifts. I don’t know why I thanked them, maybe because they are my parents after all. My mother was uptight; she does not plan to understand it. Although I utilize my diploma to get jobs, I have one goal and achievement that I’m excellent at, despite not having schools for that in my country. I still dream of pursuing arts, acting, poetry, singing, writing and activism. I am an activist who takes every chance she gets to pass positivity in the LGBTQA community.
I want to tell that little girl going through the same ordeal not to suffer. That parent who has a child like me. I just love working hard and hope one day I will reach my goal. I’m still faced with homophobic behaviour. I ask myself what would break me now that could not break a 14 year old me?
What could hurt me now, more than only having 2 meals a day when your family is lavishing?
What could break me now, more than having only the warmth of my body after bathing in ice cold water every day for 7 months of my life as a teenager?
Not eating sweets, cakes, biscuits and all the goodies?
My Answer is NOTHING!
Because who I am should never, compromise who you are. I hope whoever
reads this; young or old will learn something. Being homosexual is not
chosen. If it was a choice really I would have chosen to be “normal”
too because being bashed everyday for who you are, is not all right. It
just sets back every aspect of ones life. Homosexuality is sexuality
just like heterosexuality.
Previous life stories
2014 Dec. 1: “I lost my mom, she died in my hands”
2014 Nov. 24: Our Photographs have been taken
2014 Oct. 29: “I always avoided fights”
2014 Sept. 24: “At times I’d get jealous thinking she was taking my place
2014 Aug. 30: I’m a game changer, leader and activist
2014 Aug. 9: “I am not a lesbian by choice”
2014 Aug. 8: To be honest I love how I look
2014 July 26: “I was born this way and I cannot change the skin that I live in”
2014 June 25: I consider myself beautiful not handsome
2014 May 30: I was a boy who would one day grow up to be a man
2013 Oct. 16: I am a beautiful young dyke, a woman lover
2013 Oct. 12: I just feel she deserves much better
2014 May 8: “I was not aware that this project would be this big
2013 June 27: Who I Am
2013 June 25: The Men In My Life