By Emily Setona
QWAQWA – As Mandela month draws to an end a group of bold and assertive members of the LGBTQI community join together to take a hike up the Maluti Mountains as a symbol of courage and pride in who they are for being born this way.
The LGBTQI stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex community. Saturday 30 July saw a group of proud individuals who are not afraid to express their sexual orientation that is often viewed as a deviation from what has been historically, traditionally and culturally been viewed as the normal gender roles take a short hike up the Maluti Mountains in Thabana Tsoana to celebrate gay pride and their bold attempt to start a new culture of gay pride in the still very much conservative community of Qwaqwa. Tshepang Mofokeng* says that being in the rural community of Qwaqwa, being a gay man is rather very challenging because; “Here there are so many rites of passage norms and rituals that a young man must go through before your elders can consider you a man, so being gay makes it even harder to be treated with respect as a person who is born different and chooses to come out,” Mofokeng said.
Coming out was not easy Karabo Tseu* said; “On the day when they found out that I am gay my parents were in a lot of shock and denial, and they told me that they cannot accept having a gay son and that they were going to call the pastor and take me to church. Since then both my mom and dad have gradually come to terms with the fact that I am gay, and that no religious intervention is going to change that.” It has been almost three years since Tseu has come out to his parents. On their hike the group had to take refuge under a cave because a light thunder shower stated to fall, and at the end of the rain a rainbow appeared, and the group was very excited.
The gay pride rainbow flag represents the diversity of the LGBTQI community and as humanity that we have a spectrum of sexuality and gender. Post Apartheid South Africa has been referred to as a rainbow nation because of the multitude and diversity of traditions, cultures and people who call this country home. Former president Nelson Mandela was a great advocate for unity and democracy where all people can live together in harmony that is why the group saw it fitting to celebrate their gay pride during Mandela month. “As a bisexual woman I am very proud to be part of this hike because I am not afraid to express myself and be a part of this community here in Qwaqwa,” Zimkita Mbeu* said who is originally from the Eastern Cape.
*Names change to protect the true identities of the individuals spoken about in this article because of the sensitivity around this topic.