A Celebration of Africa’s LGBTQIA+ Change Makers
What makes us good? What makes us evil? What makes a hero? Who are the people who deserve the acclaim of heroism? Why do we need heroes? These are questions that have been plaguing my mind as I started thinking of Global LGBTQ history month.
When we think of a hero, the image that comes to mind for many people is a straight, cisgender white man in a costume, basking in his importance as he blusters his way into saving the world. I not only firmly believe that queer people are heroes, but that we are heroic precisely because we live in a world that constantly aims to erase us, yet we still find ways to prosper and care for each other in that very same world every day.
By definition, a hero is someone who “we” determine to have demonstrated behaviours and decisions that are ethically and emotionally worthy of our awe. We see in them something we think is not in us. In them is someone who inspires us by their example; someone who moves us emotionally to connect with them at some level for us develop a connection with them. We may want to idolize them or place them in high personal regard. We may want to connect with them in a personal way by focusing on them to garner their strength or will-power. We may also desire to possess them in order to gain hero status by way of a kindred association.
A Queer Warrior in my humble opinion is that and more. They are often villainized, persecuted, exiled and disfellowshipped because of the body and space they occupy. The Queer Warrior is someone who transcends the difficulty of being themselves and builds within it the view of community. Would South Africa have repealed its anti sodomy laws in 1998 without the heroic activism of Simon Nkoli, Bev Dietsie or Judge Edwin Cameron? Would there even be an October Pride without that first march on 13 October 1990?
Since the beginning of time many of our heroes were warriors who over-powered those who would try to harm or take from us the things that we cherished. A strong defender of our community or culture gets hero status. They place their very lives on the line in order that our way of life is protected from the influences or domination of others who wish to bring evil to us.
Many times, this hero does not understand why they are being exalted merely for doing what they believed was right. They did not think at the moment or during the episode, “if I do this, I will be loved and adored forever”. They simply did what was in them, they placed other people’s wellbeing before and above their own. Thank God above for this hero, because our freedoms are dependent upon these few.
We have seen many heroes emerge over the past centuries. These people show us that there are indeed choices involved in the process of living a respectable life. Heroes come in many ages, shapes and sizes. Many of our heroes are everyday folks like you and me. It is the mother who chooses to stand up and protect her children with courage and inner strength when the cards are stacked against her. There is the hero child who stands up for a disabled child in a playground and does not permit the challenged wee one to be hurt. Each of these heroes and many more garner from within themselves the unimaginable fortitude to change the lives of other with absolute sacrifice and unmitigated determination.
I can also deduce that when certain individuals are faced with the heroic act of others they might generate a fierce furnace of hatred because they have not yet demonstrated within themselves a similar response. They, without self awareness, project outward their own feeling of incapability of responding heroically. The hate is so severe that it spills out towards the hero and is filled with spitting venom. A disturbing portion of our society has morphed from a culture of raising up our extraordinary to a society/culture of bringing them down.
Yet certain people have shown heroism this year in spite of the mounting challenges facing LGBTQIA+ people. We are launching the inaugural Queer Warriors list, which is by no means an all-encompassing list, we wanted to reflect on the actions of 20 people over the past 12 months and pay tribute to the notable work that they have done in the fight for achieving queer liberation on the African continent.
Queer Warriors 2020:
Policy and Advocacy
To everyone listed here: our community owes you a great deal of gratitude. Happy Pride Month Africa!
A luta continua, we are not yet Uhuru
Treyvone Moosa, Editor-in-Chief