I don’t know how everything got so messed up so fast. One day I was being cheered on by my team-mates after scoring a try; the next I’m trying to save this one kid in my school from being nearly beaten to death.
This is how it all started.
We finished rugby practice at about 5.30. Lungelo kept calling me ‘king of the field’ in the change rooms and it felt cool. I love rugby. I may try out for one of the provincial teams when I’m done with school. I’m in Grade 12 and my name is David.
I’m sitting in the change rooms after showering. I’m in my shorts, but my top is off.
The change room is getting emptier; guys are talking about the usual things as they leave – girls, cars, their least favourite teacher, all that stuff.
I’m listening but I’m actually reading WhatsApps from my ex, Zama. She used to go to our school but then her Dad got a job in Durban and they moved there, like, six months ago.
We ended it, but she’s wanting to make it a long distance thing. I don’t know if I can do that. Long distance relationships – that’s like saying a circle is a square. Relationships – you need to be close. Close in your hearts, but also close, like, in the area, right?
So anyway. This other guy is in the change-room. He isn’t on the rugby squad. I guess he’s on the athletics team – everyone doing sport in the afternoon uses the same change room.
“Howzit?” he asks.
He’s sitting across from me. He’s about the same height as me, but I am more muscular than him. Girls always say they like my biceps. I don’t let this go to my head.
I don’t know why I’m describing his body. It’s not that I’m …
What a scary word, neh?
Almost like a curse. Like, if someone calls you gay at my school, you get to beat them up and make them take it back.
Being gay in my area is like being, a Satanist or something. It’s not acceptable. People will beat you up for it, no questions asked.
I’m not gay. I’ve imagined it, though. That’s as far as I’ll go.
I had a dream that I was naked with a guy and when I woke up … well, you can imagine.
Anyway, back to the present.
“I’m fine hey,” I tell the dude.
“You checking your FB?”
“No,” I say. I pretend to focus on my phone but I can tell he is watching me.
It makes me a little awkward, but not enough to ask him to stop. I know his name but we’ve never actually hung out before. Everyone says he’s gay, as if this means he is from Mars or something.
I don’t care if people are gay, personally. My philosophy is ‘live and let live’.
Tell us: Is ‘gay’ an insult where you live?