Human sexuality is fluid. I have first hand experience of this. When I was 22 I married a man I had had a son with. The glue of our marriage was shallow in that I mostly found him physically attractive. There was no deeper connection than that. He was a pretty man, thick eyebrows, girly lashes and full lips. Before meeting him, my celebrity crushes had always been kind of effeminate. I remember liking how delicate Michael Jackson’s wrists were and I remember having a crush on Tevin Campbell because of how high his voice went when he sang. I grew up being a girl who would seek out the feminine in males in order to find them attractive but I always assumed that I was straight because this was the 90s and where I lived everyone was straight.
Heterosexuality is almost taught. We grow up learning about Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, and Jacob and Rachel in church. Biblically all romantic love is heterosexual. Even our toys and our fairy tales are heteronormative. There was Ken for Barbie, a prince for Cinderella and Aladdin for Jasmine. All this led me to believe that romantic love had to be heterosexual. There were incidents when I was 10 where I would play mommies and daddies with other little girls and I would prefer it that way. I liked kissing other girls, pretending to be their husbands. I knew intuitively that I could not tell anyone that I liked the feeling of girls’ soft lips against my own. I knew also that the games I liked playing were doomed by time.
When I was 10 there was a 12-year-old girl named Sbongile that I would visit and without fail we would end up playing house and then kissing with tongue the way adults on The Bold And The Beautiful did. When Sbongile became a teenager she started liking boys and our games stopped. I knew even at the tender age of 11 that I could not tell her that I disliked the boy she fell in love with because I felt replaced by him. Even though she was my friend still, I wanted an exclusive friendship that would make her relationship with him redundant, obsolete. Even though I did not have the language for it then, I wanted her, romantically.
In the African continent, homosexuality is seen as Eurocentric and demonic. Only a handful of African countries allow adults to choose their romantic partners if the choice is not heteronormative. There are countries still, in 2021, that criminalize homosexuality and grown consenting adults are sent to jail for simply dating. I feel it is a human rights outcry that society says “you can marry anyone you want, as long as the person you marry is of the gender opposite to yours.” South Africa is lucky in that freedom fighters like Simon Nkoli made sure that gay and lesbian rights were included in the South African Constitution. After leaving my marriage I finally explored the life I would have had. I listen to the wants of 10 year old me. I am now in a four year long relationship with a woman. I am constantly giddy with happiness. I cannot believe how lucky I am to have come to myself so that I could find her. For women like me, heterosexuality was a phase. I am queer.
The world is complex and diverse. There is no one uniform human experience. It is very narrow minded for people to assume that how they experience love should be the way that everyone does. Throughout human history, there have been hidden stories of women falling in love with other women and men loving other men. Because of prejudice and bigotry these stories are silenced, people are threatened, shamed, tortured and in worst cases killed. LGBTQ+ rights should form part of every constitution in every country that believes that adults have a right to choose the people who wake up next to them. I am so glad that I live in a time where I can be completely open about who I love and I hope to see a future where sexual preference is talked about with the same ease as we speak about our star signs, with no hint of shame and embarrassment.
Read another writer’s take on when being yourself is not enough here
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