It’s being called ‘The Wedding Of The Year’. It has the country talking about something that has been in the back of people’s minds, but until now, they’ve ignored. The liberals are overcome with joy, the conservatives are mad as fuck and the fence sitters are silent about it. Whichever side you’re on, the Sithole-Modisane wedding has clearly opened a can of worms which perhaps needed to be opened.
The title of this piece pays homage to that old traditional English rhyme that alleges that if one is to have a good, long married life, they should have something old (usually from their parents or grandparents’ wedding day), something new (a gift from either the bride or groom’s new in-laws), something borrowed (usually from friends, not quite sure) and finally, something blue (anything blue, really). The two grooms have both received something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, but not in the traditional sense. I’ll explain.
The grooms unfortunately got married in a country where, with a glowing constitution that upholds the rights of LGBTIA individuals, there’s still a lot of hate and judgement towards sexual minorities. To say that this is because of ignorance and to hide behind the fact that “people just don’t understand” is foolish and dangerous. I think that the black nation (who have been the most vocal critics) has been conditioned not to accept anything that is supposedly ‘foreign’ to their way of life. This, however much we try running away from it, has been created by that most divisive of laws: Apartheid. It gave black people a huge inferiority complex that persists today. We can see it in attacks on sexual minorities, attacks on foreign nationals and the general hopelessness found in each and every township corner (think: nyaope boys, gangsterism). To say that being gay is UnAfrican is like saying that being black is less than human (I think I just quoted one of the grooms!). These boys did things by the book. They’ve announced their marriage to the ancestors, they’ve thanked their respective in-laws for raising their partner by means of Umabo and had a full on traditional wedding. Instead of being happy that young people are upholding their culture, traditionalists instead choose to focus on how UnAfrican they think the whole practise is. The very same people who complain to government every other day about upholding traditions and all that jazz. Hypocrisy, no?
The newlyweds introduced themselves to the world in spectacular fashion. This was the first gay wedding in South Africa to receive such media attention. From radio to print, there is no way that one hasn’t heard or seen the Sithole-Modisane wedding. But was it such a good idea to go so public with the most special day of their lives? Yes and no, I think. On the activism side of things, this was a good move. It shows that we as the black LGBTIA youth are here, we’re as African as Shaka himself and if we want to get married traditionally, we will do so. On the other hand, I feel that perhaps the publicity has kind of spiralled out of control and I’m not alone in this view. Most people I’ve spoken to about the wedding and the media coverage of the wedding agree that it is a tad bit much. It looks like it has turned into a campaign to gain celebrity. There’s been outrage in activist camps with one friend even saying “The very same guys who claim that their wedding was to inspire other gay people to come out are nowhere to be seen when there are big activism activities going on!” I do not know how true that statement is, but it seems that, as if opposition from the conservative narrow minded straights isn’t enough, this young couple has to also deal with criticism from members of their own community. Perhaps the couple hadn’t intended for their wedding to be the talking point of the whole country, but it happened and the best the rest of us can do is applaud them for their bravery and walk away.
For thousands of year, humanity has been lead to believe that marriage was the bastion of straight couples. That only they (straight couples) were allowed to marry. It’s a least known fact that for thousands of years, elaborate ceremonies were conducted for same-sex couples. This happened across the globe, from the Two-Spirit ceremonies of the Native Americans to the lesbian couplings of Zimbabwe (Wikipedia reports that while homosexuality is illegal in our neighbouring country, the punishment is mostly meted out to gay men). So no. Marriage isn’t borrowed from heterosexuals. It is a human right and perhaps even a human need to wed whoever you love, regardless of their gender, race, creed.
I do not know if the grooms intentionally did this, but both wore different shades of blue to their reception. Blue is of course a typically masculine colour, reinforcing that these are two men, who are equals and is in a way an opposition to patriarchal black and white, with black being acceptable on men but not on women. a woman with a black wedding dress is doomed to divorce. But these two wore same colours, and even their traditional outfits were similar in colour. A union of equals. One does wonder though, since Thoba wore a lighter shade of blue and Cameron a darker one, does this perhaps say something about their level of dominance? Cliché, but one does wonder: Who wears the pants in this beautiful union? Just like the fact that nobody should care that two men are in love, this is irrelevant.