Sunday, August 18, 2013

CREATE LOVE in South Africa

Di Neo Matebese
from Elliotdale, South Africa
What is your name? My name is Di Neo (name) Matebese (surname).

What country are you from? I'm from Elliotdale in South Africa. I'm a young African woman of the Xhosa people.
How are gay people treated in your country? In SA, gays have equal status in the eyes of the law. SA, with one of the world's most progressive constitutions, was one of the first countries to enshrine LGBT rights in the bill of rights by means of its sexual orientation clause. However, the Gays in my country are treated as in any other, with either respect or dismay depending on their race, gender, socio-economics and the places where they live; urban or semi-urban/township. White and Black (males & female) in urban SA enjoy more social freedom...than their semi-urban/township (black) counter parts. Black women in these townships are raped and killed by the month each year. Safety is a big concern for LGBT black township people.

What activities are available for lesbians? I'm embarrassed to say; mostly events/parties. The sad bit is that semi-urban/township (black) lesbians generally do not have access to these activities and end up at local 'shebeens'/pubs where they are at risk of attacks and murder.

How are you treated in your family? My family treats me any other child. Even when I came out they told me they loved me still and affirmed that God didn't make me the same as everyone. One of them even said that I didn't need to come out because straight people don't come out. People normally say that when your family treats you this way they are being ‘supportive' or 'accepting,' well mine isn't either of those because there is no reason to be 'supportive' or 'accepting'. My sexual orientation is to them as any of the other children.....not requiring any special 'support' or 'acceptance.'

What events and resources are available for same-sex couples? The are many organizations that offer resources that are available to same-sex couples and non-couples. Resources range from support groups to legal services to sports organizations and religious groups.

Do you have different labels for lesbians (for example, fem, boi, stud, etc.)? And if so, how are they accepted? Yes we do. SA has 11 ethno-linguistics groups; 9 of those are black. Each ethno-linguistic group has its own names to describe lesbians however, they are derogatory terms.

We all understand and use terms like fem, boi, stud and butch. The experience in semi-urban SA is predominantly that one is either butch or femme. Few lesbians in these places are, however, beginning to take on the 'boi' label. But in urban and rural SA, the labels are not quite as polar. In fact, lesbians in these areas are mostly femme or hard-femme/soft butch. They are what one would call “in-the-middle”. And as a result, the unspoken dating rules of polar opposites don’t apply as most relationships occur with lesbians of the same or similar labels.

What concerns do you have been gay in your country? I don't have many concerns being lesbian in SA as long as I'm not in semi-urban SA where (black) lesbians are raped and killed frequently. If I keep to urban and rural SA, I am ok.

What do you most admire about yourself? Why? This is going to come out as cocky, but I admire quite a lot about myself. I admire my strength, my resourcefulness and work ethic. I admire these qualities because I have had to tap into them a lot this year and I found that they are really well-grounded in me.

How important is spirituality to you? As an African, spirituality is part of my every decision. It is very important to me and I meditate a lot.

What do you love about love? I love that it is a verb and a noun. I love the myriad ways
we can express it. I love how it makes me feels. Mostly I love that it is the highest expression of ourselves; it allows us to be better than we can be. It is the most Godly part of ourselves.

What do you like to do for fun and why? I love sports and the ocean so the things I like to do involve those two things - knee-boarding in the ocean and playing sports. I enjoy writing, reading as well as watching films. I'm a big Swatzenegger fan and I am good at making people cry happy tears ☺.
Finish this sentence…..before I die I want to ______________________ Before I die I want to have done the following successfully: 1.Be happy. 2. Continue to be a proud and contributing member of my family. And 3. Own a production company like Tyler Perry :-) and make films for the LGBT community until I die!

What important lesson did you learn from your mother that has helped you in life and in relationships? Without a doubt, self-preservation! It is s a primitive feeling that men take for granted but patriarchy does its very best to erode women of it. The way we raise our daughters and the way the system has women, in particular mothers, feeling like they should have none of it and not even have themselves on the list. I have learned from my mother that an absence of self-preservation leads to death.

Many women have been said to die of natural causes when it was actually the absence of self-preservation. Many rural women all over the world have died from spending their lives doing hard labor chores, fighting elements like heat and cold farming without machinery, fetching water and wood from distant places. Women have died from ill-behaved children who make them feel guilty for their absent fathers who never had the responsibility to stay and be the fathers to the children they made. Many women have died from deadly diseases from husbands who do not respect the vows they took to love, honor and protect them. Many women have died, and not from natural causes but because they had NO self-preservation.

So I learned about self-preservation from my mother, and this I carry in my spirit and my consciousness; in relationships of all nature.

You can also find Di Neo at the following links:

Di Neo is currently running SA's first public/media and grass roots LGBT campaign titled "I'm Your Ally"(c). Please check her out on and please check out her video at

Joy Mathibe Seloane 
from South Africa
What is your name? My name is Joy Mathibe Seloane and I am 19 years old.
What country are you from? I am from South Africa and I'm from the Tswana tribe.

At what age did you come out or realize that you were gay? Well I can't really say what age that I realized I was gay because I was confused. But I think I was 12.

How are gay people treated in your country? In some places, for example, in the Gauteng province, gays and lesbians are treated badly. Some are beaten up and even killed. But most of the time lesbians are targeted more than gay men.

Where is the Gauteng Province? The Gauteng province is where Johannesburg is and it is the province with the most people.

In the United States, we hear that many lesbians are raped. Is that true? Yes woman are raped every day because of who they choose to be. It is such a shame, and we bury a lesbian every weekend.

How are you treated in your family? Well my family doesn't really know about my sexuality. They are against what I am which makes life so difficult for me and my partner. I have to hide who I am with my family just because they disapprove of my sexuality. The fact that they are Christians makes it even worse but I'm a patient woman so I'll be good.

Do you face more discrimination because of being gay, a women or black? I face discrimination more for being gay. That’s how it is in this country. Some of us can't get jobs because of our sexuality, especially the studs.

You mentioned studs. Do you have different labels for lesbians (for example, fem, boi, stud, etc.)? And if so, how are they accepted? We do have different kinds of labels and we also label ourselves. I'm a fem because I am more feminine and most fems date butches. But there is also fem 2 fem dating. There are “toms” which have both male and female traits and they date fems, toms or butches. We have butches and they are very manly and they prefer to date fems. Then there is a “futchi” which dates both fem and butch women. I guess these names are not yet understood by the outside world (people who aren't gay) but amongst us they are very well accepted.

What activities are available for lesbians? What events and resources are available for same-sex couples? There are activities available for lesbians. We get together sometimes and then there are tournaments where gays and lesbians play netball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, etc. There are other events available such as Prides, gay bashes, Lgbt awards, etc.

What concerns do you have about being gay in your country? My concerns are that same sex marriage is accepted but not really accepted by the community. Sometimes people “gate crash” gay weddings and some people even make documentaries about gay weddings. They say that they (gay weddings) are disgracing our traditions and so forth. We should be allowed to get married and be free to do whatever we like.

If you had a wish for lesbians and gays in your country, what would it be? I would wish for all of us to be able to walk in a club, restaurant and in public and not be judged or discriminated against. I want us to be able to walk anywhere we like. I would like there to be more documentaries about gays and lesbians and more about them on TV shows.

What misconceptions do most Americans have about your country? Well it depends on what they really know about this country. I know it is rated as one of the highest crime places, but it is not all crime. It is a peaceful place and it has a lot of tourist attractions and wonderful places to see. There are only specific places where crime is high. When you visit South Africa I would love to show you around.

What do you most admire about yourself? Why? The thing I admire about myself is my patience because I stay calm even through tough situations. My patience helps me get through a lot of things in life that are very difficult to face.

How’s your love life? I have been with my girlfriend for 10 months now and it seems like it has been 10 years. We are so in love that sometimes I feel scared. I admire her courage, her spirituality and her charm. What we do to celebrate our love is to spend a lot of time together and doing things together like maybe eating, traveling and partying. When I am with her it’s like I'm on another planet. We are already planning for the future so I'm hoping that this relationship lasts until death do us part.

What do you like to do for fun and why? For fun I like parting with my girlfriend because I get to spend time with her. I like watching movies, especially horror movies, because I'm a fan of movie-making.

Finish this sentence…..before I die I want to __________________ Before I die I want all Lgbt families around the world to know who I am and I want to travel the world.

How important is spirituality to you? Spirituality is very important to me because it is very important to know who really comes first in your life. If you don't have a relationship with God then you might as well forget who you are.

What important lesson did you learn from your mother that has helped you in life and in relationships? My mother taught me how to be patient and calm in everything I do. She taught me to not rush things, and that has helped me a lot, especially in my relationship. I know how to handle some situations just by being calm and patient.

(Interview conducted by SharRon Jamison)


We thank you for giving us a glimpse of your life in South Africa. Your story will encourage, inspire and uplift as we all struggle to celebrate who and how we love. We wish you continued success and happiness.

Create Love -- Founders
Imani Evans and SharRon Jamison

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for including the stories of our South African sisters, SharRon! I love the power of words to close the distance between us and bring us nearer with the magic of narration.

    The painful parts of the young ladies' telling made me want to whisk them away from the discrimination and the very real threat of death in the Black townships. Then I had to remember that both discrimination and death could happen anywhere in the you must live we must live our lives, no matter where we are.

    Sending love and light to our lesbian sisters here and around the world this morning! Indeed, I look forward to reading about other lesbians from across the globe.

    Much love,