I come from the city of Durban. I lived with my grandmother, who provided for us: my brothers, her two forty-year old sons, and I. Her sons, Sizwe and Senzo, were always drunk, no matter what day of the week it was. They care for nothing but themselves. In 2010, I went to Vukuzakhe High School, well known for its high pass rate, to study agriculture. While there, I had very few friends at school, yet I would still come home happy and smiling. Though I knew no one when I started, I tried by all means to make friends, and in due time I found one.

He and I were in the same grade, and our classrooms were neighbors. His name was Nhlaka and we soon became close friends. He became a brother to me and the person I could talk to, whether in school or out. After a period of time, he introduced me to his other friends, who soon became my friends too. We would meet in the mornings before assembly to discuss what we did after school the day before and we’d all have a laugh. We were so used to being with each other that we couldn’t stand being apart. We were more than friends to each other. We were brothers, and had so many memorable times together. I knew they had my back. I knew my friends were always there for me, but later that year all of that would change.

It all started when I met Lee. He always did funny and weird things. He did not care what other boys did, nor was he ever with a boy. He was always around gals. There was something about him that I just couldn’t understand, and it freaked me out. My brother Percy was friends with him and introduced us. After I got to know him, I said to myself, “Yes you were right Siya, the guy is gay.” But at that time I knew very little about gays.

Lee, Percy, Nhlaka, a girl named Samantha, and I spent almost every day together. They became my close friends, but there was something special about Lee. I started to see him as a part of me. I had this thing or feeling for him that I couldn’t understand. I couldn’t wait to come home from school so that I could see his cute face. Little did I know, I was falling for Lee.

Three months after we met, I told him that I had feelings for him. But sadly he didn’t feel the same. At that time, I used Mxit a lot, and I found a different guy named Nate to date. We dated for nine months and his wife knew me only as his friend from work. We liked it that way, a secret relationship. I would visit Nate every weekend, and his wife Catherine would cook us delicious meals. Her hospitality was the best, but she eventually ¬found out about Nate and I and came to my school to yell and curse at me. Everybody who heard became suspicious of me and started asking questions. It wasn’t long after that I came out to my family. Nhlaka apparently told everyone in school, and I started to lose friends, like rain falling from the sky.

Eventually, I was left with no friends at school, nor could I make new ones. No one wanted to be seen with me at school. School felt like a prison those days to me, and home felt like a court house. I had to defend myself from those who thought they had my best interests at heart. I knew my family didn’t hate me like my school friends, who in the past few years have continued to degrade me. I stay strong, however, because I know that I am twice the man that they are.