June is for Youth, June is for Pride

Pride Month is observed every June, with its main aim being to simultaneously honour the movement for LGBTQIA+ rights and celebrate the community’s culture. Kurt Naicker, senior lecturer at the Vanderbijlpark Campus, shares his thoughts on the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Can you imagine how difficult it is to wake up in the morning, drag yourself out of bed, and pretend to put on a happy face as you embark on your journey to the office, school or shopping mall? As you enter the office, you are reminded of the dominance of the heteronormative culture, which does not embrace self-identity and considers any deviation an abomination. The simplest thing, like going to the bathroom, becomes a challenge to navigate. You constantly fear judgment and discrimination because others feel that you do not belong there.

If you answered yes to the question above, you likely form part of a marginalised community. If you answered no, then perhaps it is time to listen closely to the voices surrounding you and become an ally of this community.

Celebrating Pride is about more than acknowledging an alternative sexual orientation. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community hold on to the hope that one day they can also walk down the street holding their partner’s hand, just like a heterosexual couple, without fearing nasty comments or disparaging remarks about how they express themselves.

You are not being asked to compromise your faith and religious beliefs, but you are being asked to make room for alternative lifestyles, and it would mean so much to any person if you take five minutes to try and understand what it means to be an ally.

Our gay brothers and sisters worldwide carry an enormous weight on their shoulders. From gay education being removed from kids’ school syllabi to people being put to death for expressing who they are. People are being stoned to death because they kissed their partner in public and burnt alive because they did not conform to the heteronormative culture.

Coming out as an LGBTQIA+ person is a traumatising experience. You never have to come out when you are straight, but everyone has questions when you come out as gay.

Toxic masculinity has certainly prevented many men from expressing their feelings, and studies have shown how this induces aggression toward homosexuality. Men are expected to act in a certain way. Men are not expected to show weakness and have to conform to societal standards as society continues to reinforce this. There are multiple physiological effects, such as depression, severe aggression, restlessness and the inability to be empathetic. This leads to further isolation and aggression, as problems are never confronted. Can you imagine how draining this could be for LGBTQIA+ people struggling with an internal conflict about who they are and how they want to announce themselves to the world? Why are we not embracing people for having the courage to live their truth, especially by wanting to express themselves with clothing worn by the opposite sex?

Because they live an alternative lifestyle, gay couples face scrutiny when they want to have children together. Coupled with your mounting anxiety about having a baby, you are being judged by people around you because you want to have a child in an unnatural way, or you are told that a child cannot have two mums or two dads. Why do people not understand that children need love to grow up, and two people committed to giving them that love is what they need?

Many teenagers in South Africa face an identity crisis early on in their adolescent journey. Still, their families often tell them they cannot be gay because it is unnatural, and supposedly that is fine because religion is the supportive beam on which this argument is raised. How sad it is to hear of children who have committed suicide because of how mean people in schools can be.

We are not close to eradicating this type of bigotry in the world, but any step you take is a step in the right direction and that is what gay people are asking for. Create an inclusive environment wherever you are. If you see someone sad, try to cheer them up. If you see someone sitting alone, sit next to them and chat briefly.

You have the power to change this narrative today. Just make a difference in one person’s life. It does not have to be big, it just has to be impactful. I challenge you to choose kindness for Pride Month and every day. For every child whom their loved ones do not accept because they do not conform to customary religious beliefs. For every child who has been kicked out of their home or cut off financially because their parents have labelled them a disgrace and they fear being ridiculed by society. For every child who has considered ending their life because they believe they would be happier out of this world rather than in it. Help us fight the good fight and allow us to be who we are.

Kurt Naicker

Kurt Naicker

Submitted on Tue, 06/27/2023 - 08:30