Love Is Love
We need to appreciate and advocate for all kinds of love because, in the end, it’s all the same love.
by Mamello Sejake Posted: 2016/10/25
I remember sitting on the grass with my younger brother enjoying the scorching hot Sunday morning sun, and at the pause of a hearty laugh he said to me, “Mello I need to tell you something”. My heart started pulsating at those words which never fail to sound abrupt and terrifying. “I’m bisexual,” he said.
My tummy turned as the words spilled out of his mouth and it wasn’t because of his sexuality but because he felt like he had to announce himself like that. I have never and will never know the horror of having to sit someone down and expose my sexual identity as if it were a crime and then have to relive it over and over again.
Heterosexuality has been deemed as the norm and thus privileges those of us who identify as cisgender. In a world plagued by so much intolerance, hatred and unkindness, it is a shock that we do not celebrate and rejoice in every kind of love, wherever it may present itself. In places where the weather is gloomy, England perhaps, I would imagine that on sunny days, when the sun adorns the rooftops and inspires the daylight to extend itself a little past bedtime, smiles naturally plaster themselves on children’s faces because they can play outside. In the same way that knowing that there is love being shared should awaken a joy in us all, regardless of where that love is coming from.
There is so much beauty in diversity and plurality that it is scary to think that South Africans don’t celebrate it to the core. We applaud a romanticised idea that we’re a Rainbow Nation, yet ours is still a heteronormative society. ‘Does ‘Rainbow Nation’ only apply to the different tones of our skin? Doesn’t the individuality that lives in our eyes, the multiplicity of our talents, the minefield of our different interests, along with the varied heights of our aspirations coupled with how we shape ourselves around the ways of performing gender and our unlike sexual identities add to the wealth of the rainbow? Who gets to decide that sexuality is a choice and whose sexuality is more legitimate than the next person?
I can testify to the fact that I have never had to negotiate who I am sexually drawn to; when I felt the first flutter of butterflies in the pit of my tummy for the object of my affection, it came as naturally as my love for cheese. None of us has ever been invited to an application process that dictates who we are sexually attracted to – you love who you love. Although you have the choice over whether or not to act on your desires, you have little choice over who truly makes your blood rush.
On the 1st of December in 2006, the South African constitution proved that it is streets ahead of a lot of the world when gay marriage was legalised under the Civil Union Act. Considering that we were the fifth country in the world to join the forward thinking few on a continent where today, still, homosexuality is illegal in some parts is indeed something to celebrate.
However, I cannot help but frown upon the fact that a separate act was created for gay marriages, why wasn’t the Marriage Act amended? Laws get amended all the time. By creating a separate act aren’t lawmakers proposing that we should think of a marriage between a heterosexual couple and a gay couple differently when the only difference is the gendered bodies? Shouldn’t all unions conceive by two people who love each other be viewed through the same eyes?
This weekend the longest running annual Johannesburg LGBTI Pride march will come to life once again. This year’s theme colour is orange which represents healing. Whether or not you identify as part of the LGBTI community or not, I think that we should all offer love and support. Living in a heteronormative society means that there is still policing of gendered and sexual experiences, and while this seemingly doesn’t bother a huge amount of people in our country, it really should. The need to control and dictate how people perform within their gender and how one should identify sexually has led to a lot of hurt for those whose authentic self-differs from the ‘norm’.
Where men continue to live in a space where financial success is equated with worth, women are still expected to be predominantly family oriented. They are looked at as failures if they put their careers first, or horror of horrors, don’t want a family at all. And overriding all of this, on both sides, is the idea that women are for men and men are for women.
Inasmuch as a lot of work needs to be done with regards to matters of racial inequality, we need to put in as much work with issues related to sexuality. We need to embrace the different ways of being a man or a woman, or identifying as neither, and what that means to different people. We need to stop dictating how people should occupy their bodies. We need to appreciate and advocate for all kinds of love because, in the end, it’s all the same love.