Friday, May 12, 2006

Chapter 3: Religion and my sexuality

I grew up in a catholic church, went to a catholic Primary School and never missed Sunday Mass. I used to spend my spare time reading the bible at times because I found it very intriguing. Here is a book that most people claim to live by and those that don’t, are basically doomed to hell. The bible is no.1 when it comes to instilling fear in people.

Now as a young girl growing up in Soweto and from a highly religious background, I always thought that the bible was about love, respect and acknowledgement of my creator but with life that understanding changed. I learned that the bible to most ‘Christians’ was about discrimination, hatred, control, ignorance and judgement. I read once from the Bible that when the Pharisees brought in a woman who had committed adultery for stoning, Jesus said to them “Let him without sin throw the first stone, [John 8:7]” and yet even up to today we are still throwing stones at each other.

I do not deny that I’m a sinner, not because of my sexuality, but because I’m human and I falls into temptations now and again but then again…don’t we all.

When I first realised that I was different from other girls, I was so confused…and every article I read about homosexuals was saying how evil and wrong it was and how we are all going to burn in hell like the people in Sodom and Gomorrah. Then it was hate crimes against homosexuals that caught my attention because until then, I had thought people would never just hurt you without you provoking them. Now as an adult I realise that all this hate is perpetuated by the same people that claim to spread the word of God, the society is allowed to hurl insults at us; when lesbian women get raped…people are always saying “it’s their fault for pretending to be men”; people’s basic human rights are violated and ‘Christians’ are right there in front, leading the pack.

I am a believer in God and no Pastor, not even a Pope can change that. God is the God of Love and not hatred. Today’s Christians form political parties under the pretences of routing out evil from society. How did politics and God become one thing? Politicians are known to be manipulators and liars while Christians are known to be peacemakers and spreaders of love.

Just recently on TV, a well known South African show aired a programme on ‘violence against black lesbians’ where a group of boys was interviewed. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing as I sat there in my lounge watching these boys. In a country where discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited, a country where violence against women is intolerable, men had the guts to appear on TV and say that they would rape lesbian women if they got the chance in order to show then that they’re women and that their ‘pussies’ are meant to bear children. I was shocked out of my mind! And two days later, no one from any political party or religious group had made a comment on the programme but had the programme been about lesbians getting married or adopting children…I assure you that the next day, there would have been a HUGE front page headline with the response from one of these groups.

South African police are always praised on the good job that they do when it comes to solving cases of high profile people but for us that have absolutely nothing, it’s a losing battle. I agree that not all police are corrupt and useless but there are more of those than the good ones. Try and report a rape case in South Africa as a lesbian woman, instead of being helped, you will be bombarded by questions regarding your sexuality and sermons on how wrong it is to be a homosexual.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that whenever I have a conversation with a stranger and the issue of a relationship and my partner comes up, usually the person will assume it’s a man but then when I politely mention that it’s a woman, they immediately feel a bit uncomfortable. Some are braver and don’t mind but then my favourite question will immediately follow: “Such a beautiful woman, what happened, were you hurt by a man?” As if being a lesbian is some sort of a getaway lodge or a stroll in the park. People assume we choose this life because we are just suckers for pain. Why would anyone in their right mind choose to be homosexual, knowing very well that anytime they could get attacked, physically and verbally, that they’ll spend their days looking over their shoulder, have their parents throw them out of the house, be ostracised from the church that they spent their whole childhood in, have people look at you as if you got some disease?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Chapter 2: Enter Adulthood

That relationship lasted for a year.

It was an experience I will never forget. The beauty of a woman does not necessarily make her a beautiful person inside and sometimes even though she is beautiful inside…that beauty is concealed by a lot of baggage. I learned the hard way, had my heart broken in the process but emerged a stronger woman and even more determined to find my queen.

There I was walking around feeling sorry for myself and feeling like I had wasted a whole year with the ‘angel’ that fell on my lap, luckily for me I had friends to pull me out of this miserable dungeon I had locked myself in. By this stage I had started drinking and smoking and partying like there’s no tomorrow (I’m very lucky I didn’t ruin my life in the process), drowned my sorrows and got over my ex.

I was still not ready to be in another serious relationship but women are just too beautiful, I couldn’t stay away for too long. I met this sweet, gentle but outspoken woman and we agreed to take it slow…but like I said before, women are just too irresistible. In no time were all over each other and couldn’t keep our hands off. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, is that all relationships come with their own challenges. This one went well for a while and we even moved into my flat together and everything was just groovy, then her ex came into the picture…a scary, obsessive boy who just refused to stay away and in the process made my girl’s life hell.

He stalked her, knew her every move and even had a class timetable so he could find her any day. For month our lives were turned upside down…luckily for me, he thought we were friends and never suspected that we were lovers (only God knows what he would have done to me, had he known). The situation got so bad that one day, just before the year-end exams, he caught up with her while she was walking back from campus and kidnapped her. I was out of my mind with worry, thinking of all the things he’d do to her…especially since he was her ex-boyfriend. A couple of her friends and I went to the police station to report her missing but were told that she’s over 18 and if she’s as afraid of him as we say she is…then even if they went over to his place, she could be afraid to say he kidnapped her…our energies, and pleas fell on deaf ears, we were told to come back after 24 hours if she’s still missing.

I lay awake all night not knowing what to do, images of him touching her haunting my mind…I paced up and down, tried to watch TV but nothing could take away the fear I had inside…I cried until I couldn’t cry no more…the pain and fear turned to anger. ANGER at her for not telling me about her crazy ex, ANGER at him for not even realising my existence, ANGER at the whole world for breeding monsters like him and ANGER at God for making him stronger than me physically…I couldn’t fight for my woman and it hurt. Eventually, in the midst of all those emotions, I fell asleep…

The buzzer went off at around 6am; I jumped up still drowsy and went to answer the door…there she was standing there, her eyes swollen from crying and I didn’t know what to say to her…she came inside and sat down. She started telling me the whole story, from when she met the guy to their break-up and his obsessive behaviour. I was still angry with her for not fighting him off when he took her but now realise how scared she was of him. At the time, I couldn’t understand how someone could take you against your will and how you could not scream, shout, fight or do something until I watched her have nightmares, sleepless nights and fear of going to campus because of him…only then did I realise the power he had over her and I wasn’t sure I could handle it.

Her parents didn’t know of her relationships on campus but the threats came to a point where she had to tell her father (a strict Zulu man). His reaction stunned me because he ordered her to leave tertiary and go back home; it was the worst day of my life because after two years of staying together, she had to leave Durban. This was my last year of tertiary and I was due to go back home to JHB.

We continued our long-distance relationship for two more years until we both realised it wasn’t working and that we had to face facts and move on without each other. In the beginning it was hard…I couldn’t imagine life without her (when I get into a relationship, I give it my all). I met another woman in JHB but it was still hard, we kept in touch and gave each other blessings to go ahead with our lives and meet new people then eventually after some time…I managed to see a life without her and moved on fully.

In life we go through so many life-changing events but we tend to pretend that they never existed or that those things never matter in our lives. For me, every person that I have met, whether it is a friend, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, has left a huge mark in my life. It is because of these experiences and people that I am who I am today…directly or indirectly. I have moved on with my life, yes, and have learned from these lessons.
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