#QueerFro 15 Things I Wish I Knew Before Coming Out
The first time I came across the word gay and actually understood what it meant, I was in the 6th grade. I remember one of the boys at my new school calling me gay! For the life of me, I didn’t know what on earth it meant. I wasn’t bothered by it because I wasn’t really aware whether it was a good thing or a bad thing. So I went to the local library and went to the “gay section”, It was close to the war books, so I would take two war books and wedge the gay book in-between and find a corner to read in secret and slight shame. I became even more confused as I read about how gay is a lifestyle when two men choose to be together. It felt like a choice that people make, and surely one can choose to ignore it, but there were parts that I could relate to and wished I could explore for myself. It never occurred to me that one day I will say I am Gay. I never thought that I will look at men with desire and hope to fall in love with one eventually. The thought of building a family with another man was sickening; I always thought I will find a woman that will cure me.
With Mozambique recently decriminalising homosexuality, and gay marriage is a constitutional right across The United States of America, I got to thinking about my privilege as a gay South African man. The South African constitution protects my freedoms which are something I am grateful for, even if homophobia still exists in my beloved country. Being black in the new South Africa and being gay, has its challenges and treasures. When I meet kids that are openly gay and are in high school and they can be their best selves and never have to exist in fear, I celebrate with envy, because I wish I had that privilege. When you realise the pressures of being in a community that stands together against the world but often tears itself internally like a slow virus can be harrowing.
Sex became a thing when I started university, Wits gave me the right “edge” and I jumped into bosoms of girls and later muscles of boys. My greatest fear was people figuring out that I may possibly be curious about men, my whole life, I had to deal with teachers telling me to speak deeper, and my mother saying I should wear that or sit like that. I was always aware of my mannerisms until I met a guy online towards the end of my second year after the last girl I dated. After my girlfriend and I broke up, I wanted to explore this itch I have been refusing to acknowledge for years. He and I ended up being greatest friends and the closest thing to a safe place. In our skinny jeans and drop V tops, we dove into gay culture. We went from Colourful nights running the streets of Melville and making out behind trees at festivals. We sneaked away with boys at campus parties and drank wine we couldn’t afford and slept when we were tired. I was also conflicted in this big haze of excitement; will I find my soul mate? How far can I go with this thing? What if my family and friends find out?
I remember the first time I fell in love with a man, he was everything I didn’t know I wanted, and many other things I definitely didn’t want. But I still think of him, and I am grateful that he was one of my greatest life lessons. I had been living in a bubble for 22 years, and now I was getting to learn about the world and define myself. Coming out to my family didn’t seem like an option, the thought of my gran bringing out Bible scriptures and the possibility that my uncles would beat the gay out of me made me felt I was safer in my “closet”. Being Raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, I always told myself that I will maybe come out when my gran has passed away so I don’t disappoint her, if I ever come out at all. So the first time I was with a man, I was waiting for the heavens to open up and swallow me whole, lucky for me, Jehovah God was busy with other things. It rather felt like putting on a pair of reading glasses, all the blobs were no longer blobs; they were words that open another world; after going through life thinking you couldn’t read.
Now that I’m older and I have been openly gay for close to five years, I wish someone had given me a manual or insight about the gay community. Your gay experience will never be the same as someone else’s, but there are some things we all find in common.
- Gay men are promiscuous: Yes gay men enjoy sex, I don’t know if we are any worse than straight people though. I have come to realise that Humans are actually promiscuous in general, we live in a society where having multiple sexual partners and experiences is some form of achievement. As a gay man, I had a system, guys I would like to have random sex with and guys I wanted to date. So until I have found a boyfriend, I can still be entertained and remain on the prowl for “Love”. This is not shunned at all, and it shouldn’t; because it is not fair to expect people to confine their sexuality to meet society’s requirements. Sex is fun and magical, it makes your toes curl as your partner digs
By Thabo Mafisa
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