by Wakhe Sebenza
As we all know, various events are held celebrating LGBT+ Pride month, which is the month of June. We attended a celebration and awareness dialogue by Durban University of Technology, held on the 7th of June 2019.
One of the Speakers of the day, a middle distance runner from Durban and has represented South Africa in many races around the world in countries like Australia, United states of America, Germany and more recently, France. Her name is Hlengiwe Buthelezi, the first African to be onto the Board of Directors of the Federation of Gay Games (FGG) – a worldwide sport and cultural event that promotes acceptance of sexual diversity, featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes and artists.
“I am a gay woman, a woman who loves another woman, married actually to another woman and I am not a man, I never wished to be a man. Don’t be deceived by the attire, by the dress code, I am a happy woman who loves another woman..” said Hlengiwe before she explained what letters from LGBT+ stands for because not everybody knows what they stand for. The letters frustrate even members of the LGBTIAQ+ community who don’t always know what they all mean. Hlengiwe explained some of the letters and I added more;
The L is for Lesbian: Women having romantic, sexual or emotional relationships with other women.
The G is for Gay: Men having romantic, sexual or emotional relationships with other men
The B is for Bisexual: Someone who loves people of any gender.
The T is for Transgender: Someone who does not fit their assigned gender identity. For instance, someone who may have been born female and raised as a girl but does not identify as a girl or woman but as a man or a non-binary person. They may undergo a transition either hormonal (taking oestrogen or testosterone), surgical (gender-affirming surgeries) or they may not do either and simply present as the gender they identify with by dressing in a way that makes them feel more comfortable in their skin.
The I is for Intersex: Intersex is a person who is born with different chromosomes, sex hormones, genitals and do not align with what is typically a male or female body. It is far more common than we think with many children having corrective surgery after they are born and being raised as the gender that their genitals are best associated with. This medical intervention at birth is more and more being questioned with people proposing that children be allowed to express their gender before being assigned a gender that they may not identify with at a later stage.
The A is for Asexual: Someone is asexual if they do not experience any sexual desire, attraction or feelings for another person. This does not mean that they cannot have romantic or platonic relationships but that these relationships are not founded on sexual desire but rather on feelings and human connection. Asexual people are often faced with an onslaught of advice from well-meaning people about how they haven’t met the right person or that they may be a different sexual orientation to how they’re being read but what this does is disrespect an asexual person’s identity. Trust a person to know what or who they do or do not desire.
The Q is for Queer: Queer is often used as a catch-all for the LGBTIAQ community. Queer is an identity in and of itself. It can mean not fitting into any label or sexual identity that exists (so not being straight, gay or bisexual), is an identity outside of the norm that does not fit into the options that are available.
Another speaker was Nathan Thomas who is a researcher, designer and lecturer at Inscape Education Group. He is most interested in design for the betterment of society, as well as how gender and sexual identities are influenced by new technologies.
One last Speaker was Siya Khumalo, Author of You Have To Be Gay To Know God. What was meant to be a question and answer session became an information sharing session, a conversation, the biggest message of the day was about creating spaces where we can all be comfortable, spaces where you do not have to answer questions about who you are and why do you look the way you do. It is the responsibility of every individual to fight against homophobia.