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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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.

The Guilt That Comes With Being Depressed

Sometime in November last year, I was diagnosed with depression. It was after I broke up with a guy I had been with for 6 months. All I remember about the days that followed was the crying, the insomnia and the obsession to have this man take me back. I was then diagnosed and started on a regiment of Amitriptyline to help me sleep. And it worked. For a while.

Then the pills didn’t work anymore. I started taking two at a time, hoping that they’ll help with the crippling pain I felt. I started drinking more than usual (because I’m basically borderline alcoholic, it’s hard to tell when this happens. A good sign: passing out at Lacantina) and then shit hit the proverbial fan. I can now reveal that the whole last week of December, I made plans to kill myself. If my family’s plans hadn’t been ruined, I probably wouldn’t have written this. I realised then that I needed urgent help and I sought it.

That’s when my psychiatrist started me on Fluoxetine, the drug I credit for making my life so much more bearable for the days I can’t speak to my psychologist.

Here’s the problem now: I feel guilty. Not guilty over being depressed as the title might suggest, but guilt about the trigger. I mean how dare I become depressed after a man leaves me when I didn’t become depressed after my father died? I feel like instead of resorting to heavy drinking and sleeping with all and sundry, I should have broken down then. Or when Leko died. After I found out, I bought two bottles of wine and sleeping pills. I think even then the plan was suicide but the wine got to me before I could do anything. How does one get over this guilt? You should hear and see people’s reactions when I tell them what triggered my depression. Said reactions add to my feelings of shame over being depressed over lost love instead of lost lives.

Not only that but I have close friends who have been dealing with depression their whole lives. I feel like my diagnosis, however valid, makes a mockery of all the pain and challenges they’ve been through. It makes me feel like I got diagnosed just for show. Like it’s some cool fad. All the cool kids are depressed, right?

Way forward? I have to resolve these feelings of guilt and shame (tautology?). A part of me has always been depressed but I couldn’t communicate it because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. I remember writing a suicide note in grade 11 or 12 and I had my friends give it to the school counsellor, just for laughs. I realise now that this was my first cry for help. She called my dad and when I got home, the first question I was asked was whether I was on drugs. I learnt then to keep my feelings and thoughts to myself especially where family’s involved. Occasionally, I’d slip up and explode on social media and because I’m Tshego, the dramatic gay bloke, people would just drum it up to an attention seeking stunt. I have no doubts that even now, there are people who feel/think like this.

All I can do, truly, is to keep up with my therapy and focus on a happier, healthier me. I know that I need to get over this guilt or otherwise I’m just setting myself back.

On Attempting To Move On: A Word

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It’s been a month. It hasn’t been an easy one but it’s been a month. And I survived. I survived the pain, the confusion, the anger.

I find myself having moments of weakness when all I want to do is confess my undying love for him and beg him to take me back. But I know that won’t work. I deserve better. He deserves better.

I keep convincing myself that I’ll stop breaking down whenever the memories come. I skip songs that I had subconsciously linked to him. I limit the number of times a day I stalk him on Twitter. I try not to look at that one picture of us that I haven’t deleted.

Quite convinced that the pain from break ups shouldn’t last this long. I’ve felt whatever I needed to feel. I’ve cried, I’ve medicated, I’ve been like Carrie Bradshaw to my friends. You know. The whole “my problems are far more important than yours”. It needs to stop. All of it.

I need to get to a point where I completely let go. Where I stop worrying and caring about him. For own sanity. I need to get to a point where I completely forget his number. It’s weird how I don’t even know my own mother’s phone number off by heart but I know his. Speaks to the stupid investments we make in temporary people.

But what’s funny is, all the time I spent loving him, I was dead sure that I had met my (first) husband. I look back at the texts and I try to pinpoint where exactly things went wrong. Sigh.

It’s time I stopped having sleepless nights wondering about what could’ve been or wondering if he still thinks of me.

Look at me trying to convince myself. Another sad night. But I’m confident these will be the last few.

10 Reasons I Don’t Like Black Straight Men

1. Most of them do not want to learn about anything that has nothing to do with them. They then go on to comment on said topics like bloody experts.

2. Deny it all you want but most BSM feel entitled to women’s bodies. From policing how they dress to trash talk about weaves, they think their opinions surpasses those of womyn + queer + nonconforming persons.

3. Their homophobia, misogyny, biphobia and transphobia is incredibly strong. Even with self proclaimed allies. We see you.

4. Every single place with #BSM is dangerous for womyn,  queer, trans and nonconforming persons. Danger level shoots up 100%

5. They’re the first to believe and create harmful stereotypes about other groups like “gay men want all men”  or “all women need dick”.

6. When them or their defenders go #NotAllMen. Fuck outta here.

7. #BSM refuse to problematise their masculinity and privilege.

8. #BSM refuse to call out their problematic, predatory friends. Take it from someone who experienced homophobia and witnessed the ones who were quiet laughing at the slurs being thrown at me.

9. They don’t go to church regularly but will be the first to quote Leviticus or tell a womyn that the Bible/Quran/Torah (because black Muslims and Jews exist) says she/they must be subservient.

10. The way they catcall womyn and then swear at them when their advances are rejected. There’s also this common misconception by #BSM that sex is all about them.

Granted,  #BSM have suffered from systematic oppression but he still enjoys his male privilege. Unabated. He has no problem questioning queer love + identities (using heteronormative concepts of gender) bit refuses to problematise his own masculinity. Black masculinity is so fragile because most #BSM refuse to better themselves. To unlearn and relearn. I am so tired of them.