When It Isn’t Just A Joke: Homophobia in comedy

About two months ago, a friend and respected LGBTQIA activist sent a screenshot of this tweet, in jest, to a LGBTQIA group we’re both a part of: “Bathi Gay Police be like: “chommie you are under arrest bathong. Yho o sa bua thata, chomza coz re di berekisa against u”. I would’ve liked to call it the tweet that launched a thousand retweets rejecting and shaming this inherently homophobic and lazy sort of thinking, instead it got eight retweets and a favourite.

One of those retweets was from a gay man and although it is not clear if he was retweeting it for his timeline to see or if he approved of it, it is still disappointing because to me, it looked like he was endorsing the offensive tweet.

Then a few weeks later, a colleague and up-and-coming comedian regurgitated the same joke. He said that gay men can’t be police officers because instead of shooting suspects, they would just let them go because they’re, and I quote, “cute”.

These jokes are very problematic because they normalise police brutality (officers can’t go around just shooting alleged suspects), reinforce  stereotypical ideas about queer individuals regarding the kind of jobs queer people cannot do because of their sexuality.

These jokes are troubling because they reduce those of us who find them offensive to being individuals with “no sense of humour” because we don’t get that it’s “just a joke”.

It isn’t just a joke. In a country where corrective rape and other forms of hate crimes against LGBTQIA people are prevalent, we should not let mildly-disguised homophobia slide.

This is not a duty that should only be left up to activists, we should all be actively trying to get rid of stereotypical and troubling tropes about gay people,. I- I’m not comfortable with just laughing problematic jokes away.

What worries me, are the people who tell you to “get over it” or that “it’s just a joke” because they never want to understand where my concern and anger is coming from. I cannot just remove myself from certain situations when it suits me.

Local comedian Thapelo Tips “Shampoo” Seemise is notoriously homophobic in his skits. In one show, he told straight men to stop saying “fuck you” to gay men as gay men “expect you to.” He went on to ask where gay people come from, as he had never seen a gay comrade during the Struggle. He also seemed to think that gay men aren’t real men stating that we hate the movie “Think Like a Man” (of course we do. It was a really bad movie which reinforces patriarchy. Bye Felicia!)

These notions, these tropes that are perpetuated by famous people, contribute to society’s hatred of queer individuals. It is ignorant to assume that just because you did not see them and they’re not in our history books, there weren’t any gay freedom fighters. Read up on Simon Nkoli and Bev Ditsie.

I’m all for a good joke. I am even willing to laugh at myself once in a while. But when the joke is inherently sexist, homophobic, ableist and racist, I cannot just stand back and laugh it off as “just a joke.” It isn’t funny.

Follow me on Twitter: @Tsheggy_ZA

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My Depression Makes Me Treat People Like Shit

I’ve been on a social media break for the last two or so weeks. This was brought on by recent heartbreak and solidified by the recent death of my dog.

But during this period, I realised something I think I’ve always known: I treat people who care about me like shit when I go through these episodes. Then I end up feeling like a dick and suicidal. I feel like they’d be better off with one less asshole (pun not intended) in the world.

Take Doris. She and I have been friends since primary school. I’m turning 28 in a few days. She wants to bake a cake for me. What do I do? I treat her like a nuisance. Or my other friend Refilwe. I can see she’s trying so hard to be supportive and understanding. What do I do? I put a barrier between or relationship.

It’s like this with everyone. I guess subconsciously, I’m trying to prepare them for life without me. Or I’m just really a dick.

Gay Culture is Hookup Culture

On Wednesday morning, I put an ad on the classified website AdsAfrica. In my ad, I was pretty clear about what I wanted: dick. The ad was meant to sound simple but ended up being a rambly, sort of needy mess:

The ad attracted several men who then inundated me with pics of their schlongs and dongs, all solicited, of course.

All of this had me thinking: is hookup culture synonymous with gay culture?

Gay culture is a lot of things. It’s relying on friends when family rejects you. It’s drinking with reckless abandon at a club on Monday night because all other aspects of your life are shit. Gay culture is learning to fight, not only for yourself but for the LGBTQ+ community. Gay culture is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. So it isn’t crazy to think that gay culture could also be hookup culture.

Historically, Queerness and Queer culture has been vilified. So how would you meet a potential lover, shag or friend when doing so could’ve gotten you arrested or killed? You would hookup, secretly. Whether you placed a cryptic classified in a newspaper or went cruising (don’t do this, kids) or frequented a bathhouse, hookup culture has been an integral part of the Queer movement. I do not doubt that many have met their significant others or friends via hooking up.

I’ve hooked up with so many men via apps and websites that cater to queer folk. One such hookup was with a gorgeous tall man from South America. Him and I met on MambaOnline’s MeetMarket one December afternoon. We proceeded to chat, he sent me a dick pic, but it never felt sleazy. Him and I had sex a couple of time but went on to become good friends. With benefits, naturally. So I guess in that way, gay culture became hookup culture for me. I’ve also had amazing, affirming sex with men I’ve met on these sites. So it isn’t all bad.

The idea for this post came to me earlier this week when I signed up on a site called OnlyLads. I then went on to download the app (everything has an app these days, hey?!). I then bumped into a guy I had had sex with at a club on the app. I laughed so hard because my friend had mentioned him earlier that night in conversation. The bloke was in my friend’s inbox, talking about wanting a relationship. I also laughed because every single time I’ve ever been on a dating app or site, I always come across his profiles. This Adonis who had banged me in a club needed help getting laid? There’s hope for us ugly ducklings then.

Society is becoming more accepting of Queer folk and Queer culture. Our stories are being told by mainstream media. Queer roles are finally being played by Queer folk (not as much as we’d like though) and people are doing the work needed to ensure better protections for Queer folk. What does this mean for queer hookup culture? Will Grindr survive inclusion? We’ll see.

Crabs, Jobs and My Dream Guy

I haven’t done this in a while. Somewhere between the last post and learning how to be a journalist, I stopped writing. True to my nature, I made excuses for it. I blamed singlehood, antidepressants, too much sex, too little sex and even threw writer’s block into the mix. But it was and is me. 

I have never thought of myself as a brilliant writer. But because I am narcissistic as fuck, I lap up the attention that comes with the title ‘writer’. 

The past ten months have been interesting. I’ve dated two men, had my second nervous breakdown, met my dream guy, made lifelong friends, caught crabs, recovered from crabs, lost 3 phones because when I drink I turn into a moron, worked for a magazine and most importantly, I’ve realised that being alone  isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Dream guy? Well he’s a published short story author. He reads,  introduced me to 1 litre Black Lable and had me spend a weekend with him where we did nothing but attempt to fuck and talk. Why didn’t I try to make it work with him? Well, he’s younger than me and I still suffer from heteronormativity. Also, I don’t think he liked me the way I liked him. A week later, I sent him a rambling text confessing how fascinating I find him. Surprisingly, he didn’t run for the hills.  He called me “brave” for my confession.  We all know that’s code for “forget it,  weirdo”. But it’s all good. 

I had my first STI ever. Somehow, I managed to catch crabs. To the less slang savvy, I had pubic lice. Now, it was a dark and confusing time in my life. All the men I had been with had a clean bill of health(of course I asked!) Where had these little buggers come from? I then remembered that I had been to a seedy hotel one Saturday morning after too much partying. The timeline matches. I am happy to report I am crab-free. The miracle that is Tea Tree Oil and emergency e-wallets. 

I had my second nervous breakdown in August. It was one of those “I’m going to kill myself” scenarios again. As a result, I am (albeit begrudgingly) back on antidepressants. My psychiatrist had me sign a suicide contract. I know it sounds creepy and to me, it is. Basically,  in this contract, I promised not to hurt myself.  Does it sound like I gave away my autonomy?  Because that’s how I’m interpreting that damn contract. I am technically sane now. The meds help,  I guess, but the real stars are the people I call my friends. 

Ok. I’m tired of doing this. Did I mention that I’m job hunting again? Next thing you know,  I’ll be a 28 year old Intern. Such a queer stereotype. 

Random Thoughts On: Relationships

I have managed to fail at another relationship. An off-hand comment triggered a series of events that have lead to the demise of yet another promising love affair.

After I tweeted that I was single again, a friend suggested that maybe, I wasn’t meant to be in relationships. And I get her point. When I was younger, I failed at relationships because I was insecure as fuck (see previous posts). The older I became, I destroyed my relationships because I loved obsessively. And now, I make reckless (sober) comments which get me into trouble. So maybe I’m just meant to stay single and be the chief ‘Hoe Is Life’ administrator.

But I really like relationships. I like the exclusivity monogamy sometimes brings. I love the feeling of falling into someone new. I love sending morning, afternoon and good night texts. I love the drunk sex, the morning blow jobs and day drinking with a significant other. I love surprising them with my knowledge of seemingly mundane things. I love introducing them to my weird musical tastes (current obsession: ‘Ancient Voices’ aka the Survivor theme song). I just love love, fam. But love isn’t overly fond of me.

I live in the hope that one day, I’ll meet a man who’ll be so in love with me that my flaws (and to be honest, there are a lot. #MenAreTrash) won’t scare him. A man who’ll love me so much that it’ll overwhelm me. A man with the right politics or at least one open to learning about the intersectionality of life, love and politics.

I am over the idea of a Mr Right. The thought of a Mr Right Now isn’t appealing to me anymore. I want to just find someone who wants to stay and fight for me. For us. I know he’ll come (and cum 😏). So for now, I’ll just focus on my career, drink a bit more liquor and work on my mental health so that I’m ready to be overwhelmed when he does show up.

Dating Men: A Queer Extreme Sport

​Also, dating men is an extreme sport, y’all. I don’t know how we do it.

You find one, cuff him kanti he doesn’t really like feminine men. Y’all break up.
You find one who doesn’t care that you’re feminine but is ironically, a misogynist. Now I have to dump you because you have outdated notions.
You find one who has no problem with you femininity, isn’t a misogynist but is transphobic. Misgendering people intentionally (always happens, I’ve noticed when Caitlyn Jenner is mentioned). Dumped. 
You find one who has isn’t transphobic, loves your femininity, isn’t a misogynist but forms part of the “I’m not like other queer men” brigade. This bunch oft shames Beyoncé loving queers, Lacantina and Liquid Blue and will try to sound faux intelligent by mentioning that we don’t need pride because straight people don’t have pride. Boy, bye.
Then you find one that’s amazing with his politics in place until you get to the “no fats, no femmes” part of his online dating profile. Says it’s his preference. Usually a gym bunny.
Then there are the lads who want a monogamous relationship but cheat. When you introduce an alternative to monogamy, they don’t believe in it. 
While all of this is happening, you have to meet guys online, decide whether they’re worth being serial killed for and go on dates. On these dates, you have to deal with narcissism, no real knowledge of how the world works, people being rude to waiters and his mêlée of friends who all came to check on him. In. The. Middle. Of. A. Date.

Did I mention abafana bamo kasi who hurl slurs at you the whole day only to give you bomb sex that night? These are also the ones most likely to kill you because fragile masculinity.

I could go on forever.

I really don’t know how we do it and go on to form very beautiful couplings….. 

Staying Alive When You Really Don’t Want To

2016 has been trash. Consistently. There was no time to rest before we were bombarded with more bad news.

Here in TsheggLand, the year started off fine (not counting antidepressants that left me constipated or that time the antidepressants I liked nearly got me killed) and gradually transgressed into a total shitpile. The details are unimportant but I am now almost 10 grand in debt, probably have some sort of health issue (because cigarettes, booze and fast food), single and very unhappy with my life.

Checking Out

For the past 3 months, I’ve been contemplating suicide. Not just once a month when the going gets tough. No. Daily. I have written several suicide notes and have thought of ways to do it that won’t be too painful or too slow. The suicide note is a complete list of my failures, people to call in case I finally do it and succeed and even a playlist. 24 whole songs to celebrate a life I don’t want anymore.

One of the main reasons I haven’t done it yet (one being that ironically, I’m afraid of death) is because of my Mother. See, I live with just her and she is quite elderly (yep, I’m a living cliché: 20 something year old failure still living at home). I don’t want to burden and scar her by letting her find my body. I also think my death would kill her, not that I’m important or anything. The thought of putting her through all that pain again (pain she surely felt after my Father died) is the reason I’m still on this miserable rock. I love my Mother too much to hurt her. 

It is the worst thing being alive when you no longer have the desire to. Nothing gives you pleasure anymore. Everything hurts all the time. You’re confronted, daily, by all your failures. The failure to make a success of yourself. The failure to make a relationship work. The failure at being a good son, brother, uncle and friend. It’s all there and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it. I keep being told to go back to therapy. Here’s my thing: I’ll still be the no good failure when I leave the psychologist’s office, bbz. 

Here’s to hoping (haha!) that 2017 is better. If it isn’t, at least I’ll have enough courage to join the Forever 27 Club. But then I’d need some sort of talent to get in, no? Sigh. Even in death, I can’t win.

Attempting to date while black, queer and living with a mental health problem

​I’ve slept with several men, been on at least 3 dates and have had countless other men “speaking” to me in the last 8 months. At first, I had chosen to be single to reconnect, if you will, with Tshego. But now, 9 months since the end of that other love affair (you know, the one I’ve written exhaustively about. The one I continue to speak about in unguarded, drunk conversations), I’m beginning to wonder if my race, sexuality (or to be really specific, femininity) and mental illness are the reasons I’m not prospering romantically. 

Dating as a black queer man is notoriously hard. There are so many hurdles to jump over. There’s the stigma attached to feminine men. While this isn’t entirely unique to black queer men, I personally, think that it is worse in our community because of African views and notions of homosexuality, masculinity and gender roles in a relationship.

A few months ago, I went to a friend’s family braai. There, I met a cousin of his, let’s call him X, who is apparently, MSM. X then proceeded to tell me how crazy I made him (one does try) and said that we should date. I laughed it off and jokingly engaged him on this. He had it all planned out: He was going to love, fuck and protect me. He then asked where I lived and what I did for a living. I proceeded to tell him that I live in Soshanguve and that I’m a writer. That’s when X suggested that we go out soon, on my dime. Now, I have no problem taking people out but it’s what he said next that shocked me. “Ene ke nna tlebe ke tshwere karata ya banka, ankere ke nna monna?” basically, he had assumed that because I was more femme presenting than he is, I’d just give him control of my money because “black tops are so rare.”

But here’s the thing, black tops aren’t rare. They’re just in hiding because of society’s perceived notions of masculinity. It’s a toxic masculinity that doesn’t see beyond the binaries. It’s the type of masculinity that costs me a dick appointment and perhaps even a long term relationship after I call or send a voice note. I’ve never been ashamed of my femininity but I have started thinking that I need to “tone it down” in order to meet guys. Fucken’ tragic. Probably never happening. 

Then there’s the issue of my depression. Studies across the globe continue to state that LGBTQIA+ peoples’ rates of depression and anxiety exceed those of straight people. This, some guess, is a reaction to how society treats us. I got diagnosed with depression in November last year. It worsened after I quit my job (is it really a job if you worked there for 3 days?), The Aquarius dumped me (If you’re reading this, I need closure. And possibly goodbye sex) and I started realising that in the grand scheme of things, I ain’t shit. I sought help at the persistent urging of my friends. But the first 5 months of anti-depressants were the worst. Especially for my sex and love life.

I was put on Amitriptyline first. It left me constipated so even with all the preparation, sex was messy then. I legit think that’s why my regular casual sex bud never came back, even though he said he was a nurse and he understood. Men are fucky, hey?! Then I was on Fluoxetine which left me emotionless and without a libido. It did, however, cause me to forget stuff when I’d drink after taking it. Yes, I know it’s wrong to take anti-depressants with alcohol but I have a love-hate relationship with booze which I will address in a later post. But, I am told that at one point, I danced, topless (mkhaba and all), on a table at a local drinking establishment.

The worst and most terrifying, however, was when I walked in a daze for a good four hours, in the Tshwane CBD. I had been on a date. It went well until it came time to leave. My date excused himself to go to the bathroom. I closed my eyes for what seemed like a minute and when I opened them, I had no idea where I was. I left the restaurant and wandered the streets of Tshwane until I came to and realised that I was near the Bosman Gautrain station, with absolutely no idea how I got there. Because good people still exist, I managed to find shelter and reconnected with my date the following morning. Poor guy had almost gotten robbed looking for me. Not only had I placed my own life at risk, but another’s. A few weeks later, with the permission, but not blessing of my psychologist and psychiatrist, I went off the meds, choosing to opt for talk therapy instead. Again, with this love affair with booze. Also, I don’t think most black and brown men know how to deal with a partner with a mental illness. What with their own battles to fight.

What’s my point? Attempting to date while black, queer and living with a mental illness is hard. But it is not impossible. I live in the hope that I too can fall in love again one day with a man who’ll accept me with all my imperfections. I see queer love stories all over my social media feeds and when out socialising and I’m inspired. I just have to keep swiping right on Tinder till the one who’ll accept and love me, mkhaba et al.