By: Lindiwe Dhlamini
Photos by: Thembela Dick
A long-awaited interview session with the revolutionary, care-free, articulate, and extremely liberated Pastor Tebogo Moema, who preaches the gospel of love, unity and family support which he terms the “vortex of power”.
The set-up had already taken place with the help of Thembela Dick setting up the camera for visual recording and Nompumelelo Mjikeliso an intern who helped proof read the questions and print them prior to the Pastors arrival. All we needed was the ever loving, unapologetic and fun Pastor Moema to come and share with us his journey as an openly Gay Pastor in a world that shames and discriminates homosexuals.
The issue of sexuality and religion is known to be controversial and has brought many heated debates in the past and still does in some churches. But here we are on a Thursday morning feeling excited to interview such an outstanding man in society who has paved a way for me and other LGBTIQ+ persons to be able to know that we are not alone, there are other heroes who came before us.
Churches are known to “pray the Gay away”, yet here he is disrupting the norm and asserting his existence in spaces that exclude his kind. Several of the churches where Pastor Moema preaches are attended and administered by heterosexuals, many of whom believe that being LGBTIQ+ is an abomination. I asked how he navigates such spaces and still come out strong and happy as he always is. “The church is the hotbed that fends hate speech because of miseducation and misunderstanding…” he replies stating that with him, he has had to come out so many times that it is now second nature for him to introduce himself as Pastor Tebogo Moema an openly gay man who is very happy in his own skin.
Pastor Moema is not only famous for his sexuality but for his tireless work in the LGBTIQ+ community and being one of the first founders of a church; Hope and Unity Metropolitan Christian Church (HUMCC) that was created to be a safe space for other LGBTIQ+ religious people. The church was situated on top of the then famous Gay bar known as; Skyline Bar in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. While doing this work Pastor Moema together with other religious Gay people opened up more branches across South Africa to ensure more LGBTIQ+ persons had access to a space of worship despite their sexual orientation. He further states that part of the ministry was to train other Pastors who were struggling to reconcile with their sexuality and being religious.
One of the things that inspired me the most about Pastor Moema was finding out he is the brains behind the famous church hymn which I also grew up singing in my church as a kid; “Jehova Jireh the Lord my provider, he keeps on doing great things”. Thinking of the kind of church I was raised in, I do not think that they are aware that a Gay man wrote this song, nor will they be happy about it. I made a comment to Pastor Moema about this fact and his response was affirming and very resilient as always; “There is no way they can throw away this song, they may not want to match it with the owner because he is Gay, they can exclude me, excommunicate me but they cannot take away my creativity and my gift. – I am a gift to the world irrespective of my sexuality”.
Pastor Moema is one of a kind, a man in his late 50s who is living his life with no fear or care of what others think of him. He continues to share the gospel of love and unity with many people while advancing LGBTIQ+ rights in spaces of worship and the country at large. He is planning to write his own book, which will be a tell-all. I cannot wait to read about this remarkable man.
As the interview concluded, Pastor Moema stayed with us for a while debriefing and sharing more knowledge about his other business ventures and activism, he is involved in. It was truly an honor to learn more about LGBTIQ+ history from one of the surviving heroes who fought for LGBTIQ+ rights in South Africa.
 LGBTIQ+ – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning + other sexual orientations.