A Row For The LGBTQI+ Stage
Mamello Sejake takes a look at the music scene in the LGBTQI+ community
by Mamello Sejake Posted: 2017/06/20
In as much as there are spaces that will make you swallow your tongue as a Black person there are even more that manipulate situations to kill the god inside individual members of the LGBTQI+ community.
Life is a constant hurdle. There’s a jump for your money. A jump because of your race. One for your ethnicity. A jump for your gender. A jump for your sexuality, especially if its goes against what society deems right. A jump for how you identify, then again higher if it doesn’t agree with the masses. And, another jump if you’re disabled. These aren’t the only ones but you get where I’m going with this right?
Not that I’ve been oblivious to these realities but it echoed louder to me while speaking to Annalyzer.
Annalyzer. She’s a performer, one who classifies her genre as indigenous afro infused with hip hop. She’s a small house but one furnished with the most infectious of personalities and a will that says “try me and watch me rise above anything”. She identifies as a Black butch lesbian. Why is this important? Because it has shaped how the world engages with her, as such things do, and how she has had to meet with the world.
She first made my head turn with a Facebook status venting about how LGBTQI+ allies are given preference and paid more at events that are geared towards the community before LGBTQI+ artists and performers.
Which brings me back to my point of the hurdles.
From Eastern Cape initially and having moved to Durban to establish herself as a fulltime performer in 2016 she moved to Joburg because well, as she put it, “Joburg is the Hollywood of South Africa, you can make anything happen and be whoever you want to be”. She explained the hurdle between being a gay performer and being a butch lesbian performer saying “it’s not that there was no space for homosexual performers in Durban, it’s just somewhat easier if you’re a man. There’s more of a pull towards you. There are more gay hags than there are more gay fags. You’re favourable. A fashionista. A socialite. But, it’s an entirely different ball game when you’re an out Black lesbian who isn’t trying to conform. I’m always being told to change my look and ‘feminise it a bit’ so I look sexier.”
So she moved to Joburg, the City of Gold. Still strong willed, ready and unapologetically herself.
She got a few gigs here and there as she established herself. But, there were still questions about whether things got better in Joburg; is there more room for her here? And, not that Durban is a safer space but, how she navigates through the fear of the violent homophobic murders our social media feeds are continuously plagued with?
“Yes and no. The way I saw it I could and can be whoever I want to be and identify however I want to in Joburg. If anything the idea of expanding myself excites me. And, no. I am not afraid of the physical violence. Black lesbians are being killed but that can’t hold me back from living my truth. What scares me more is the unkindness packed in the insensitive things people say. The verbal remarks. They sting”
So, there she sat in front of me unreformed and pushing her hustle mainly within the LQBQTI+ community which is and isn’t a tactical move.
She explained to me that… “you need to be accepted at home first. When you’re accepted at home than the rest of the world doesn’t matter. It also almost comes naturally with those types of events. You’re attracted to your people, it’s a safe space and we find each other. They find you. That’s where you need to make it work first before you can make it work for the mainstream where you don’t meet the status quo. Once you’ve undressed yourself with your people then you have the armor to face the world.”
“A little ironic” I thought, these ‘safe spaces’ don’t put their family first.
“Yes! At LGBTQI event organizers would rather put gay hags and gay fags on stage and pay them more than they would the actual members of the community. These hetero people symbolize an acceptance of us in some way. But, if they want to put someone onstage then they should look for our artists. Find us, we’re out there and made up of just as much talent. Bring our people, show us in our diversity. Bring trans performers. Call on us to work for and at our own events and don’t say that you don’t know about us. There are openly homophobic and prejudice performers who will get the stage before us. We’re tired. We’re over it. It’s enough.”
I could trace another hurdle in Annalyzer’s words. It stung. Sure, nobody promised us a fair life but for people to choose not to be humane and manipulate circumstances to create hurdles when we already all have them confuses me.
But, the way I see it… women like Annalyzer have been carved from steal and will always rise. Watch this space…
You can catch her on:
iTunes: Annalyzer Ndihambe
Deezer: Annalyzer Ndihambe