I will never forget my 21st birthday, it was on 25 October 2014. The day was going to be amazing; I mean it was pay day, I just knew it was going to be a crazy day.

I woke up bright and early at 9am, it was early for me, I wasn’t going to work. I was unemployed that time, well I still am but the point is I woke up early that day. I went in the dining room, everybody was there but I wasn’t really expecting to be wished a happy birthday by my family, to them it was just another day. Sadly, my wish came true, nobody said anything related to my birthday. Well they’ve never celebrated my birthday before so I wasn’t really expecting much. It was a nice atmosphere though; we ate breakfast together and enjoyed each other’s company.

Come midday I vanished, it was a Saturday, everybody was around. I went to my friends’ place. I wouldn’t exactly say they planned something special for me. They just added me in their plans, they drink and party almost every weekend and that pay day week was just another weekend for them too. Until I reminded them what was really happening and just like that I was part of their plans. The streets were buzzing, it was insane, everybody was playing ‘Doc Shebeleza’ by Cassper Nyovest, he was the guy to listen to that time. We chilled at the park, had a couple of drinks like a preparty before I really celebrated my birthday. We left the park a couple of hours later, we grabbed something to eat and headed to Max’s Place, the place to be at every weekend.

It was packed, the music was so loud you could swear you were inside the speaker. We knew there and then it was going to be a vibe.

We settled in nicely until I witnessed something that really broke me. I saw two guys arguing, well it’s a norm, we were at a tavern, people are bound to argue. As I got closer, I could hear them throwing words at each other back and forth. The super drunk said, “I’m not going to pee with a gay, you want to pee, go with at ladies’ toilet, we don’t want your kind here.” I was standing there like ‘what the… really? during modern day era, we still have homophobic people.’

The alleged gay guy was losing his mind, pissed, he was replying to whatever the drunk guy was saying I could see he was at his boiling point. I jumped in before anything else escalated. I reasoned with the drunk guy and he left eventually. I told the gay brother not to mind that drunk ass guy, “You came here to have fun have fun and don’t let nobody bother you.”

I really hate how gay people are being treated honestly. All they want is for everybody to respect them for who they are and love them, that’s all. Instead they get criticised, judged and discriminated. Why? I don’t know.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, we see a girl bleeding on her forehead running outside the tavern. That scared me, I’ve never seen so much blood. When we asked, what happened they said that her boyfriend hit her with a bottle and nobody intervened because “You don’t interfere in other people’s affairs.”

Right there and then my ‘aha’ moment hit me. We came to the tavern to have fun and forget our problems but there’s high chance you might lose your life, not all of us have the same agenda. Some are there to cause damage. Teenagers sneak out of their parents’ house just to go to these taverns risking their lives. What happens in our taverns really scares me most of the time, Sometimes I fear to go, so I just stay home.


Tell us: Do you think that taverns are not safe in South Africa?