South Africa: Being LGBT in a conservative town

AS MUCH as progress has been made and the world has become a more open space, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community are still bearing the brunt of past stigmas and discriminations, this according to much of the gay community in Pieter­maritzburg.

Speaking on being gay, Mzila said that he is still a man, irrespective of his sexual orientation, and men who feel threatened by his presence must look within themselves and at their own sexuality if they feel uneasy when they are around him.

Even after having come such a long way in terms of breaking social stigmas and past myths, the gay community are still suffering at the hands of the ignorant according to director of the Gay and Lesbian Network in Pietermaritzburg, Anthony Waldhausen.

“We are a very conservative city. Therefore, many people still approach the LGBT in a negative way and have negative connotations and feelings towards us,” said Waldhausen.

Having set up the LGBT network 16 years ago, Waldhausen said that, even though they work towards educating the public and helping them understand the LGBT community, people are still stuck in the past and still have trouble grappling with the thought of people of the LGBT community being the same as themselves.

“We run various workshops and educational sessions with organisations such as clinics and police stations to educate these officials about our community. Given that our people are still often treated with hostility when approached by these officials, it is important for us to partner with them to teach and educate them about our struggles and way of life,” said Waldhausen. Read more via Maritzburg Fever