Monday, October 09, 2006

Chapter 5: Making new friends

After my break up, I spent a lot of time visiting my friend Ndu in Newcastle. We had a great time together, he was a brother to me who knew of my sexual orientation, my ups and downs with women and was very accepting and supportive. I could talk to him about everything, even the nitty-gritty details of my sex life.

When we met at technikon we were just friends and had gone through a lot together, we’d even cried together over women and would laugh at each other the next morning, ours was a friendship that was destined to last. Over the years we grew closer and our friendship took a different turn…he was more of a brother to me than just a friend.

When he moved to Newcastle, he met a young woman who was staying with her long time partner and he felt that we would get along if we met. So one weekend I decided to go down and visit him. He introduced me to this lesbian couple who had been together for years. Beautiful women, young, successful and fun to be around. We got on like a house on fire and were determined to continue this new found friendship.

Cat and Q were the friendliest, open people I’d ever met; Q has a strong personality and you could tell she preferred more orderly things and had strong leadership qualities but knew when to play, and on the other hand Cat was exactly that…like a cat…she was more playful, cuddly, naughty, loved to laugh, talkative and together they made a mean couple.

I looked at them and knew that I would have a relationship like that one day.

Around this time I had started working part-time for a gay media organisation. It is here that I began to meet a lot of influential people like Zan, she is a loud Zulu woman who speaks her mind and knows exactly what she wants and how to get it. I liked that about her because as much as I believed that I knew what I wanted; I wasn’t as aggressive and truly didn’t know how to get it. Zan is a highly acclaimed photographer and an activist.

She told me about a group of women who wanted to start an organisation for black lesbian women, and that they were meeting once every month. It sounded like something I would be interested in as I was really proactive about such things. That’s how I got into this whole activism business. I felt that as a lesbian woman, I had to stand up and fight for myself instead of hiding away and letting other people fight my battles for me. Each time there was an insult hurled at homosexuals, I knew that even if I would stay in the closet forever; that insult is meant for me too. The more I got involved the more I realised that it was time for me to start thinking about coming out to my parents as this kind of work requires someone who is out there talking the talk and walking the walk.

While working for the media organisation, I met a whole community of gay and lesbian people; I had never met so many homosexuals in my life or even contemplated the existence of so many of them. They were the people you see everyday; Doctors, lawyers, business people, your next door neighbour and so forth. Most didn’t even conform to the stereotypes that people have of gay people; that a gay men would be dressed in tight clothing and swayed their hips from left to right like some ramp models and that lesbians are these scary women that dress in men’s clothing (though all of this is still part of the spectrum).

Each day I learnt something new from the people I met and realised that this is a worthy cause to fight for and even die for if it comes to that.

The Gay and Lesbian movement in South Africa is not as aggressive as I’d want it to be, I think we let people say and do as they please as far as we’re concerned. Politicians, Christians and other homophobic groups say things to us that we just take in and do nothing about.

Whenever I read about the anti-apartheid movement and see documentaries done, the passion that’s involved is so intense. When African students took to the streets of Soweto in 1976, you could see that their voices were in unison and that they knew what they were fighting for. A lot of them died on that day but the fruits of their death are visible today; young people today can do so much that they couldn’t in those days.

That’s the passion I wish for when it comes to the Gay and Lesbian Movement. Right now we’re pulling in different directions and some are concerned with their own issues and don’t feel that they have to be part of this movement. Unlike in the apartheid era, most LGBTI people sit back and let others speak for them. People like Bev Ditsie and Simon Nkoli started the movement for us and we have to continue with it and not lose focus on what we’re fighting for.

My first PRIDE march was when I came back from technikon. I was so excited and looking forward to marching for a cause for the first time in my life. I hadn’t even come out formally to my parents but I told myself that if I had to be seen on television, I’d have to deal with it then but I was going regardless of the consequences. What a colourful experience it was, I remember I was so excited and felt like a 2 year old eating candy for the very first time.

My life was taking a turn, I was growing into an adult, my whole outlook on life and my priorities had changed.

Chapter 4: Back in JHB

Here I was back home, jobless, still missing my ex-girlfriend from Durban but because I had told myself I needed to go on with my life, one Sunday morning I decided to go to a gay church and there she was this beautiful mature woman, singing in the church choir. Needless to say I went to church every Sunday after that. I was told she had a partner already so I tried to back off but the urge was too strong and I eventually made a move and she responded. We hooked up and started getting to know each other, then one thing led to another.

She would visit my house as I was still staying with my parents. We enjoyed each other’s company and had great sex but there was one problem, she was still staying with her partner at the time. For four years I had lived on my own in Durban, could do anything I wanted to do in my own time and pace, now here I was at home and couldn’t even have privacy with my woman. I was getting a bit frustrated with the arrangements and the fact that I wasn’t getting a job either was starting to get to me.

We went on dating on the DL (Down low), the thought of being caught was invigorating. She eventually broke it off with her partner who wasn’t impressed with me at all. We were so in love and enjoyed each other’s company a whole lot but our relationship had signs of doom from the beginning. We never saw eyes to eye and argued almost all the time, whenever we had a fight she would say I didn’t love her. She loved her friends and going out that she pushed everything else to the side, including herself. I spoke to her many times about how I felt and how she needed to change in order for her life to improve. Now I’ll admit, I’m a pushover when it comes to women and at that time I was afraid of being alone if we broke up and so I tried to keep the peace within the relationship, even though it was clear we were not meant to be together.

There was one incident that made things clear for me. I was starting to get into the whole JHB lesbian scene, enjoying myself and meeting new people all the time. During that time I met a very interesting woman, Kay. She was fun, intelligent, extremely sexy and I liked her. Even though I was attracted to her, I refrained from acting on the feelings. Then one afternoon we decided to go and have coffee after work, she needed to talk as she had a fight with her boss. We met and had a great time but someone who knew us called my partner and told her I was out with someone else.

We got into a big fight about it and even broke up for a couple of days, when we eventually talked about the incident, she explained to me that she would take me back only if I never speak to my newfound friend ever again…that’s when I realised how controlling she was and how I could never survive in the relationship but because I wasn’t ready to lose her, I agreed but of course I continued talking to my friend (we’re still good friends even today).

It was downhill from then on as we continued to fight all the time. We’d make up on one thing and something else would come up, this wasn’t what I wanted in a relationship and clearly we both hated that. I had to look deep down within myself as to what I wanted, and each time I decided this wasn’t it; the fear of starting another relationship would consume me and I would apologise to her for whatever it was that we were fighting over, and then the circle would start all over again; we fight…we make up…this was the story of our life.

One day I think we both had had enough of the fighting, the love I had for her started dwindling away and I knew there was nothing left for us to make up. I think she also felt the same way and after a year we decided to let go. Even though I had gone through losing a lover before, it still hurt really bad but life goes on. There comes a time when you get over someone, no matter how much you loved them, you learn to move on without them and the pain of losing them becomes a part of you, something you can live with.

By this time I had really given up on falling in love and being together forever. I told myself that I’d just go with the flow, if I met a girl I liked then I’d just take it slow and see where it takes me.

I was still in contact with my ex-girl from Durban. I told her of what had happened and we both decided to meet in Newcastle, halfway between JHB and Durban to visit a school friend of ours. We spent the whole weekend in wonderland, talking and just holding each other. We spoke about things we had planned to do when we were still together and laughed about things we had done during those years. It was then that I realised that more than anything we were very good friends. It was refreshing and I was convinced I would never meet anyone else that I would love as much as I loved her.
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