HomoSEXuality: The “Lesbian effect”

So I met a boy… It was one of those nightclub electric meets that are very rare in our circles. We had consumed little alcohol (I was on my first cider) but that spark, that electricity, it was too much to deny. So we are on the dance floor and I am in my most masculine attire, and we click. I go over and spark a conversation, we click more on the conversation front, I feel a sneer from my friends. I immediately know what it’s about: We were 2 feminine looking queers and somehow in the black gay circles that is still considered a big no. This is known as “lesbianism” within the black male queer circles.

Growing up in post-apartheid South Africa as a black queer body was not the easiest of childhoods. We had no role models, no one to look up to and guide us. No model for how homosexuality should be. We had little access to Western queerness and those who did made sure they filtered what they knew before passing it down on us. We had one such role model, he taught us everything wrong with homosexuality. Misogyny was instilled within us from a young age and I still know a lot of misogynistic queer bodies, the most feminine of queers, stemming from his teachings.

“Lesbianism” stemming from queer men is one of those. For a while I thought it was about stripping us (feminine queer men who have stripped themselves from heteronormative roles) of our queer male identity. Looking at it further and listening to other points of view I see it is deeper. It is something rooted in our patriarchy because queer bodies or not, that is a privilege most queer men still own and exert. I mean you can look at the way some queer men treat queer womxn. The way how queer men treat transsexual womxn. It’s a problem that should not be swept under the rug and should be tackled head on.

We need to unshackle ourselves from the chains that bind us. No one is saying how one should identify but asking to identify in a way that isn’t problematic or constricting to another body. The heteronormative way in which we choose to model our sexualities is always going to be a problem if you choose that it works for some things and not for others. We can agree that we all feel oppressed in one way or the other but just because you are queer does not give you a free pass to oppress other bodies. Internal homophobia is something I have battled with for a long time and it’s something I see in my peers. That bores some sort of structural privilege and a need to oppress. Calling me a lesbian even though you know how I identify and who I am is oppressive. That is not who I am and the fact that you feel the need to call me lesbian when insulting me also means that you know the hierarchical advantage you have over certain queers.  We are fighting the same demon most of the time and we should know how much more we could achieve if we come together.

Sexual identity has little to do with the bedroom and more to do with personality. What one does in their bedroom should stop being a way we identify our homosexuality. Queer men should take a page out of the queer womxn they discriminate over and belittle. Queer men should understand that, feminine or not, they do have privilege over all the other queer bodies. There is a reason why G is always the go to letter of the acronym.

So let us take a long look in the mirror, because until we acknowledge and accept that we can be problematic as queer men, and understand that we also can also oppress, then the fight just gets that much harder. Because divided we can never achieve what we can if all of us queers could unite as one.

Sivuyile Mtshemla



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