Tankiso was happy, expecting only the best from the new school because he heard that it was producing stars. What he didn’t expect was to share a bedroom with 11 other guys. However, he had to accept this because, at home, he was taught not to complain about trivial matters. He was taught to be grateful for what was given to him as long as it did not hurt him.

“Hello, my name is Mike,” said one of the dorm-mates.

“Hello, Mike. I’m Tankiso, I’m new here.”

“Welcome. You will love it here, man. We have freedom here, man, your parents don’t have to know everything you do when you are here, man,” said Mike.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, if you’re looking for a smoke or a girlfriend, I can help you find them straight away. And you, I’m sure girls will jump on you because you’re handsome and big.”

“Hey! You are just determined to change my life, Mike. Thanks for the news but I don’t care about those things. I’m here to study,” Tankiso said. He opened his suitcase and took out sweets to share with Mike.

The first day passed. Tankiso kept meeting other learners and tried to create friendships here and there but in the end most of his friends were girls because he had an attraction that girls couldn’t resist. In the boys’ dormitory, every night there was talk about politics, music, art, etc. Since Tankiso came from a family of readers, he knew something about many different things that affect the public, therefore, you could talk to him about anything — this made the boys like to talk to Tankiso as well.

“Hey man, Tankiso,” said Disema, one of the hostel boys. “Please help me write a love poem, I want to give it to my girlfriend.“

“Hey! A love poem?” Tankiso said, with a frown. “To be honest, I don’t know much about your relationship, but I can help you write the essay that the teacher told us to write about Fees Must Fall.”

Disema was very sad to hear this and he suspected that Tankiso might be jealous because he did not have a girlfriend even though he was handsome and smart.

One day, Tankiso and his girl friends were sitting in the sports hall watching a boys’ basketball game. One of the girls heard Tankiso complimenting one of the players, Disema.

“Disema has a nice body, shem!” said Tankiso and smiled.

He did not think that the girl he was talking to would tell Disema and the other boys who were in the basketball team. The girl spread the news across the school.

That night, when Tankiso came out of the bathroom, he came across Disema and other boys and they teased him and insulted him, calling him gay. At this time, Tankiso was shocked, not understanding what was happening. Finally they threw him in the school yard where others kicked him, spat on him and left him there in the cold. Tankiso fainted and woke up in the wee hours of morning. The hostel doors were closed so he sat in front of the principal’s office until sunrise. The principal found him lying at the door of his office, freezing. The teachers and students had not yet reached this part of the school building, therefore, he was seen only by the principal.

“Tankiso!” said the principal. “Son, what happened?”

Tankiso cried when they entered the principal’s office and told him the news. He asked that his parents not be informed about this matter. The principal fetched Tankiso some clothes from the hostel. After that, Tankiso went to the dining hall for breakfast, accompanied by the principal. When they entered the dining hall, girls and boys stood up and shouted, “Justice must prevail! We love you, Tankiso! Disema must go!”

Disema and others who had attacked Tankiso got expelled later that year.

Tell us: What do you think the general public could do to ensure safety for the LGBTQIA+ community and safeguard them from the insults, attacks, and killings that we often hear about in our communities?