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Not gay as in happy, queer as in fuck you.

I grew up in a small suburban town, went to an average high school, and to all onlookers seemed to have a normal life. I believed I had a normal life, right down to the homophobic father. But as you can guess, I am gay. But this is not something that is discussed as an option in an Afrikaans household. You dream of marrying a girl and maybe hooking up with guys in the dark once in a while. But never, never was coming out an option.

It wasn’t till after matric that I even met my first real-life gay person. I was in awe, you mean you can live your entire life openly liking boys? Stop it! This is blasphemy. So I started dipping my toes into the world of LGBTQ+. So much I didn’t know, little naïve farm boy. I went to university in the big city and there were clubs for boys who like boys and girls who like girls.

But with the coming out, came the drama and the self loathing.

What’s wrong with me? Why do people keep calling me moffie like it’s a bad thing? You hear the appalling stories of kids that commit suicide from not being accepted by their parents or being banished from home. Moving to the big city with nothing but the clothes on their back, hoping to be accepted by the LGBTQ+ community. The horrid tales of corrective rape, and being sent to jail for being queer in other countries.

Society starts putting you in a box, (Which one of you is the girl?). Treat you like you can’t change a tyre or go to the hardware store by yourself. And, OMG, you must love fashion, and I have a friend that you must meet. Yes, Karen, because all gay people know each other. Then comes the labels within the community. Select your tribe: Fem, butch, otter, pansy, lipstick lesbian, fairy, bear and and and. Why in the name of Cher do we do this to ourselves? And who picks these names?

So now not only must I deal with society’s box they put me in, but with the LGBTQ+ boxes as well?

I’m definitely not built enough to be butch or hairy enough to be a bear. Maybe an otter or a wolf? And sometimes you don’t even get to decide your label.

For some this leads to body issues, lack of self-esteem and self-hatred. And I can see how this is possible, me being one of them. Also, am I only allowed to date in my tribe? Fuck it, I’m a flying pink my little pony unicorn! And herein lies the beauty of our community, we get to choose our family – I’ve got a herd of my little ponies that I call my family.

We have allies that defend us tooth and nail when we are too scared or tired to fight anymore. There are people campaigning for us that we’ve never even met. We’re living in a more accepting society now than the one I grew up in.

And at the risk of sounding like Carrie Bradshaw, this got me thinking of how everyone else in the queer community feels about all these issues?

I rounded up some friends, we talked about it, laughed about. Then we got all dressed up, playing into our stereotypes and took some pictures.

We are here, we are queer. And your approval is not wanted, nor required.

OR

Inspired by everyone’s unique coming out story in the LGBTQ+ community, we wanted to showcase the different stereotypes that society puts queer people in and they put on themselves. Giving them a change to say fuck it, and be the true diva that they are. We collected their stories, made them feel pretty and drank champagne. Because we’re not gay as in happy, but queer as in fuck you.

ARTICLE WRITTEN BY SCHALK MYBURGH

Crew Credits

Photography by Stevel Marc
Styling by Schalk Myburgh
Hair & Makeup Kelly Jean Gilbert and Rachael Darne, both at LMDA
Styling Assistants Lebohang Lebs Lubisi & Shante Gainsford
Hair & Make-up Assistant Kerisha Pillay at LMDA

Special thanks to The Source & T-Shirts for Change

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