So, at the time of my coming “coming out” I had numerous girlfriends because I was trying to establish whether or not I was indeed lesbian. One day I went home with one of the girls I’d been seeing and introduced her to my mother as her “Makoti” (daughter-in-law), my mom overlooked this thinking it was a joke. They later realized that it was quite a serious thing. My family didn’t quite have a problem with me being lesbian, their biggest concern was that I should get through university and get an education for myself – and this is something I am currently working on.
I was married for two years to a man who is the father of my children. Some time into the marriage I ran away because I couldn’t stand being a man’s wife. I left home not explaining anything to anyone and I was away for a good two months. Upon my return, I disclosed that I was lesbian, my biggest fear being segregated from my family and discriminated against, and this is exactly what I happened. I didn’t have to accept the fact that they didn't accept me for who I was. I knew that this is the life I wanted to live and I am very content with myself. The most important people in my family have changed over time, slowly accepting me for who and what I am – this is all that matters to me.
I wouldn’t say, “I came out”, my family basically knew I was lesbian from an early age really. I have always had a very androgynous gender expression or “butch” as others call it and it was my family who bought my clothes. Church was a regular thing for us and I loved it, so I started inviting my girlfriend over to church, we started attending church together quite a lot. One day, our sexual orientation was a topic church members had clearly been talking about and this led to the pastor calling me into her office after one service. The pastor told me I am not allowed to be part of the worshiping team anymore, and that I should give up all the other duties I had in church until I “repent”. I don’t go to church anymore, but I do still believe in God and have my own relationship with God.
I have two sisters, both younger than me, my mother and me. There were strict rules in the house: I was restricted from going out the yard at all times and being out in the yard landed us into big trouble. The time came when I moved to the North West in Grade 9 and this is when I got some ‘freedom’ because it was a new place and I was away from home; I could be me. Around that time, mom started questioning me about why she hadn’t yet seen me with any girls before, asking if I was Gay? I denied being Gay and said I was bisexual, she had no idea what bisexuality was so I had to explain that I was attracted to both girls and guys, which wasn’t true – I was just trying to cover for myself. One day I got really drunk and said to my sis I felt like I wasn’t loved enough in the family because I was Gay, she said nothing at first but asked about it the following day when I was sober. I told her I was gay and she was fine with it, she is the one who told the rest of the family. Her concern was that gay men were a big risk when it comes to HIV infections, so she spoke to me about safe sex and condom usage. My family took a bit of time but started to embrace me for who I was. While I took some time to disclose this to my friends they got Facebook notifications that I had joined a Gay group, they behaved weirdly at first but they came around and told me they were “cool” with whoever I was. I am just being me taking one step at a time.
I am 29 years of age, born in Zimbambwe. I grew up there and left for South Africa when I was 18. My parents didn’t care much about how I dressed up or who I played with, I always played with girls and wore my sisters’ clothes. Problems started when I went to church because I never dressed or behaved the same way as other “normal” boys. There was always some sense of stigmatization and discrimination. I felt, unwelcome, almost. When I moved to South Africa in 2007, I thought things would be easier than back home but it turned out it was still pretty much the same. I came out to a good friend of mine who later gave me novels about coming out to read and understand that there were other people who faced difficulties coming to terms with their sexual orientation and living as openly gay. It helped me cope while lived and studied at college because it was the most difficult place and time of my life. I was isolated and alone, I lost a lot of friends and in September 2016 things hadn’t changed much for me – so I tried to commit suicide because I had had enough of the discrimination and segregation I experienced. It was tough and I had mixed feelings, mostly sad. I am trying to live as normal as possible, this means still being in the process of trying to make some more meaningful friendships. I spoke to my family and I don’t think they have a problem with who I am, so hopefully this means I could have a better relationship with them as well.
I recently come out as gay, but since I was young, as young as middle school, it was always said I was gay because I have a very tiny voice (which is associated with girls only) and what many called a “feminine walk”. In high school I dated girls I had the same problem all the time: they would ask me about the rumour that I was gay, so as you can imagine those relationships ended very quickly. It was not easy as I was trying to understand the dynamics of who I really was, so to have that and a family and community that refers to your whole life as “demonic” was and still is painful. At some point I have had to choose between my mother and my sexuality because she would always deliberately humiliate me and shame me at family gatherings, something that’s been damaging to our relationship. My grandmother, though, was very understanding and only expressed concerns over my health, relaying stories of gay men she knew as friends that died through HIV-related diseases. She didn’t want me to die the “same way” and die young. My paternal family doesn’t really want anything to do with me and I would love to have a relationship with them, so it’s still a process with gradual progression. I hope they will come around. For me, it would perfect and make sense when all of my family has accepted me regardless of my sexual orientation.
Not sure if I came out first to my mom or sister, if it was with my sister I didn’t have to tell her – I was 13 years old at the time (she was 14 years older than me) and one day she asked if I had a girlfriend, and I said no. This was a question she asked persistently for a while. After weeks, she asked if I had a boy or girl I liked; I told her there is this guy that I liked. She made things easy for me, she normalised everything in the discussion of my sexuality and didn’t make me feel ashamed of myself or anything like that. I wish more people could open up to seeing things like she did and make things easier for all other young LGBTI people wanting to come out to their families as well.
I am not openly gay to my family, I am openly gay to some of my friends and I am still “in the closet”. I come from a Christian background, and if you come from a Christian family it’s not easy being gay it is seen as a sin. I wish I could tell them about myself, who I really I am but I am scared that this could result in my being kicked out of home. I have to lead two different lives: when I am home I have to be a different person, when I am with friends I have to be a different person and this is the at Church. It’s tough and very challenging for me. My wish for the LGBTIQ people is to have our own churches that are welcoming of us regardless of our sexuality because some of us really love God and want to go to church. We are good at singing and want to express ourselves through singing at church but we are not allowed because churches want nothing to do with us – I hope to see change in the future.
I first came out as a bisexual to a close friend of mine at the age of 17, it was a bit easier than coming flat out gay. When I was 19 I came out and told my family and friends that I was gay. I’ve always known that I liked guys from a young age, my first crush was John Smith from Pocahontas, but coming out was difficult because I was constantly subjected to bullying at school due to my sexuality. When I came out it was not necessarily by choice, I was pressured to come out by my boyfriend at that time. I had broken up with him and he threatened to commit suicide. Not knowing what to do, I told my mom about the situation and that I was gay. I realise now for myself that there was never going to be a right time to come out but I guess I needed that push.
I have always known that I was gay from childhood. But I came out in my late teens and my family and friends have also known because of my feminine traits and personality at the time so it wasn’t difficult for me to come out. During that time when I came out people were exposed to gay couples on TV (generations) so it was easy for my parents to understand. My big personality never gave anyone the chance to bully me and make me feel ashamed of who I was because I believe that there is nothing about oneself that others can use against yourself if you have already decided to take charge of your life and own who you are. I have always been clear about my sexuality and proud of it.
I’ve always known that I was gay and my family and friends also knew and were cool with it. I’ve always been strong-minded and at school I didn’t allow people to bully and box me because of my sexuality. I always put my focus on my schoolwork and made sure that I excelled at school. It was my way of blocking out negativity. Coming out can be a physically and emotionally draining experience so make sure you are ready to come out because you can be subjected to rejection from society, family and friends. You have to be ready for it but it’s worth it.
I had my first encounter with a girl when I was 15, it was a girl I went to high school with. I experimented with her and I liked it. After this experience with her I had an interest in women, and experimented with many other women. I would say I’m bisexual because I like men and women. Most of my friends know that I’m bisexual, but I have never sat and discussed it with my family, so IM COMING OUT. I treat my body as a canvas, I’ve got many tattoos, and as that kind of black girl I faced judgment from society and family. But I realize now that I don’t need society’s approval and acceptance to be who I am. God has already approved me and that’s enough, so I choose to embrace my sexuality and my uniqueness.
I am a transgender woman. When I was 12 I struggled with gender identity issues, I felt like I was stuck in the wrong body and I was unhappy with who I was. So when I turned 21 I discovered that I was a transgender. When I found my true identity, I made sure that I got as much information as I could on how to handle the process of transitioning into the person that I wanted to be. It was a difficult experience, but yet a beautiful adventure, because I got the chance to discover whom the real me is and that felt amazing and fulfilling. My transition was a shock to many people and people often labeled me a drag queen, but because of my bold personality I did not let it bother me, instead I chose to be confident and own my sexuality. Being a transgender is much more difficult than being a gay or lesbian because it clashes with peoples beliefs and values. We are more likely subjected to discrimination, persecution and violence. As a transgender you really have to be emotionally strong and ready to face judgment and discrimination. But since I transitioned I’ve never been happier. It was definitely worth it because I am finally the woman I was born to be.
I came out as a gay when I was 14 years old. It was really a difficult experience for me because my father didn’t take it well. He disowned me and cut me out of his life because he was ashamed of who I was. But my mother was very supportive and the rest of my family was also supportive. With my father’s rejection, I grew up having issues of neglect. His lack of love and support towards me made me depressed and today I am 29 years old and still getting therapy for my daddy issues. My father’s rejection led me to involve myself in the wrong kinds of relationships, I searched for father figures in the men that I involved myself with. I wanted to fill the void that my father left within me with the men I dated. My father and I reconciled years later before he passed away. He finally accepted who I was so I’m still recovering from the hurt, but it gets better everyday.
In primary school I dated boys, but one day I just stopped noticing boys and started looking at girls. At first I didn’t understand why I was like that, I always felt different to other girls at school. Then when I was in grade 9 I came out to a few of my friends because I had a girlfriend at that time who was in the grade below me, she didn’t want her friends or family to know so I had to keep it a secret to protect her. In Grade 10 I finally came out to everyone. Some of my friends took it well and others just strayed away from me, but it didn’t bug me. My mom had her stages of discomfort and denial but she eventually accepted it. My dad to this day; still refuses to acknowledge and accept that I am lesbian, nor does he listen and speak about anything regarding my sexuality and also refuses to be associated or meet any of my friends that are also gay. Coming out subjected me to discrimination, especially my school principal. She used to tell me that I’m only gay because I’m fat, ugly and afraid of rejection from boys. It was an emotional journey but despite facing discrimination and rejection from people, I wouldn’t change one thing about myself. I am proud of who I am. I am proud to be a lesbian.