IOL Queer + Mag - March 2021

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MARCH 2021


ove is ...

Love is

Contents No Hid ing Here brings fun gay love to forefront Conventional queer relationships Unconventional queer love Pop Inn where LGBTQIA+ love isn’t taboo Queer kink relationship Queer+ movies

CONTACT US PUBLISHER Vasantha Angamuthu EDITORS Liam Karabo Joyce Jamal Grootboom DESIGN Dominique Owen LIFESTYLE EXECUTIVE EDITOR Nelandri Narianan PRODUCTION Renata Ford BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Keshni Odayan SALES Charl Reineke ENQUIRIES

Queer+ books My Queer+ experience

s i e v o L Editors’ Letter Life is too short to ignore love – while no one knows who said that, the fact remains. Life really is short and being in love and seeking romantic companionship plays a big part in many people’s lives. With queer acceptance becoming more and more “normalised”, it has also


allowed more members of the LGBTQIA+ community to find love and be loved openly. While many people still subscribe to the concept of monogamy, a growing number of individuals have gone for a more unconventional route. Whether it be polyamory, open relationships or a throuple, love in the queer

community comes in various shapes and sizes, and for our third issue we wanted to unpack this. So no matter your definition of love, let’s celebrate it.



s i e v o L ’No Hiding Here’ brings fun, gay love to forefront JAMAL GROOTBOOM

QUEER cinema in South Africa has come a long way and No Hiding Here as the country’s first gay romantic comedy is making more waves. Directed by local queer film-maker Gabe Gabriel (he/ him/they/them), No Hiding Here is set in a small South African town where a beloved drama teacher accidentally plays gay porn during the biggest school event of the year. This forces him, and the event’s guest and featured artist – a closeted big city celebrity – into hiding from the outraged community. Gabriel moves between Cape Town and Los Angeles, where he has been working as a writer, director, actor and independent film producer since 2013. We spoke to him about No Hiding Here, what it was like filming through the pandemic and his hopes for the future of local queer films and TV.

No Hiding Here director Gabe Gabriel.

What inspired you to make No Hiding Here? Nagvlug producer, Zandré Coetzer, approached me with the idea to write a “warm and fuzzy” gay South African romantic comedy for Showmax. . So I got together with two other queer writers, Kelly-

Eve Koopman and Nico Scheepers. We brainstormed ideas that would keep our story small and contained (for budget reasons) but still feel to some degree universal and magical. I always take moments that happen in real life. Let’s just say I’ve accidentally played

some explicit adult content through my laptop at a really inappropriate moment so … that’s sort of what inspired the “inciting incident”. Why do you think it’s important to have more

LGBTQIA+ representation in the South African film and television industry? Despite our progressive constitution, queer bodies in South Africa are no strangers to violence. Just last year, our community lost a friend and a queer mother, Kirvan Fortuin, to a homophobic attack. There is a lot of work to be done to put an end to this type of gender and sexualitybased violence and our job as artists is to tackle those issues. I think paradigm shifts in culture and society happen largely in tandem with shifts in media and representation. No Hiding Here attempts to win over the empathy of our country’s leading streaming platform. We hope that if there is a movement in the hearts of the TV-watching population, anti-LGBTQIA+ systems and constructs will lose popular support. The intention with a film like ours is to “normalise” queerness to the everyday TV viewer in the hope that they will understand it better. Often the threat of violence comes from a fear of the other and insecurity around not understanding something. The movie debuted on Showmax. What has the reception been like? To see how many queers dropped their plans last weekend to support the film, it was beautiful. And the feedback is that they want more. We are so eager for queer content, so hungry for that sense of

representation that says “I see you. You and your love are valid.” The other great thing is that there hasn’t yet been any major backlash which I’m hoping will send the message to the powers that be at M-Net and Showmax that their audiences can handle more than they think. Why do you think South Africa is still lagging behind with queer representation in media? I think our industry has been starting to pick up in the past couple of years as film-making is becoming more accessible so I think it’s just a matter of quantity. We don’t generate as much work locally as they do in, for example, Hollywood. But let’s look at the two industries comparatively: GLAAD said in its annual Studio Responsibility Index in 2018 that of the 109 releases by the largest movie studios in Hollywood, just under 13% included LGBTQIA+ characters. South Africa has made far fewer films but in recent years we’ve seen major films such as Kanarie and

Inxeba do really well. So my point is that I don’t think we’re behind, per se. But I do think we have a long way to go as an industry, globally. What do you think this movie will mean for the queer community? So many South African queers have approached me or messaged me to tell me how much it means to them to see OUR stories; OUR love on their screens and to be able to share that with friends and family and use the film as a tool to spark empathy in those around us so that we may be more accepted. Some baby queers have said seeing their family’s reaction to the film (which is so light-hearted and cheesy that you really can’t hate it) has given them the courage to come out. What is your hope for the future of LGBTQI+ representation in the local media? That we get to make more and more and more. That more people give money to more queers to make more content until there’s literally something for everyone.

No Hiding Here director Gabe Gabriel with members of the cast.

Love is

beautiful in all its forms and the celebrities on our queer celebrity power couples list have proved that

Caster Semenya and Violet Raseboya

Conventional queer relationships LIAM KARABO JOYCE

NOW more than ever, representation is important, and while it’s great to celebrate new kids on the block, there have been queer celebrities who have pushed the boundaries for decades. Love is beautiful in all its forms and the people on our queer celebrity power couples

Jwan Yosef and Ricky Martin

list have proved that. From Elton John and David Furnish, who started dating in 1993, to Billy Porter and Adam Smith, who got married in 2017, here is our list. Ricky Martin and Jwan Yosef In January 2018, the couple took fans by surprise by announcing their marriage. “When I first saw him, I said, ‘I am going to marry this guy.’ And apparently, he said exactly the same thing,” Martin told Attitude magazine in March 2018. “We know that we carry this flag, and if we’re going to carry this flag, let’s sway this flag really loudly. Because at the end of the day, we’re proud of who we are.” The duo share four children: twins Matteo and Valentino, daughter Lucia and son Renn. Sarah Paulson and Holland Taylor After meeting years earlier,

Holland Taylor, left, and Sarah Paulson | EMMA MCINTYRE /VF19/WireImage

the American Crime Story actress and Taylor confirmed their romance in 2016. “If my life choices had to be predicted based on what was expected from me from a community on either side, that’s going to make me feel really straitjacketed, and I don’t want to feel that,” Paulson told The New York Times that year. “What I can say absolutely is that I am in love,

and that person happens to be Holland Taylor.” Billy Porter and Adam Smith Before they tied the knot in 2017, the Kinky Boots star viewed Smith as the one that got away. The couple met in 2009 and went their separate ways the following year after a brief fling. After five years of friendship, they rekindled their romance. “It was a whirlwind,” Smith told Playbill of their nuptials in 2017. Caster Semenya and Violet Raseboya Olympic gold medallist Caster married her long-term partner, Violet, in December 2015. The couple have a daughter, Oratile, together. In 2017 when Being Caster Semenya aired on BET, the Olympian said her first encounter with her wife was a “funny” meeting. “We met in a restroom in 2007. She was a runner and was being escorted by doping officials. She thought I was a boy and said ‘What is a boy doing in here’?” Caster said the comment immediately got her back up. “I’m not a boy. You think I’m lost? You think I can just walk in here?” It took a while for them to start dating and Caster said it was she who told Violet about her feelings for her. Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita The actor and lawyer met at a gym and got engaged in Mexico in September 2012 after two years of dating. Ferguson and Mikita tied the knot on July 20, 2013, in a lavish ceremony officiated by screenwriter Tony Kushner in New York. “We wanted to get married in New York because that’s where it’s legal, so we want to support the state that’s in support of us,” the Modern Family star said. In July last year, they welcomed their first child, son Beckett Mercer.

George Takei and Brad Altman The Star Trek actor and his partner agreed to live long and prosper together in September 2008 during a multicultural ceremony at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles after being together for 21 years. The pair exchanged vows they wrote themselves, during which Takei called Altman a control freak. Elton John and David Furnish No list of gay couples would be complete without this duo. The couple, who have been together since 1993, were

Billy Porter and his husband Adam Smith.

“instantly” attracted to one another, John told Parade magazine in 2010. “Every Saturday for 16 years, we’ve sent each other a card,” he said. Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi A match made in powerhouse heaven! DeGeneres is the queen of the talk show realm, and her wife starred in Arrested Development and ABC’s hit show Scandal. The pair wed in 2008. “Being her wife is the greatest thing that I am,” the comedian wrote on their anniversary in 2017.

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Nico Tortorella and Bethany C Meyers

Unconventional queer We’ve compiled a list of queer celebrities that are or have been in nonmonogamous relationships


WHEN it comes to relationships, monogamy isn’t the only way to be in a loving relationship. While many people are familiar with polygamy it’s not the only option. As information about queerness has become more available, the concept of relationships outside of the heteronormative bubble have also become more accepted. We’ve compiled a list of queer celebrities that are or have been in non-monogamous relationships.


Bob the Drag Queen, Ezra Michel and Jacob Ritts: Open Relationship/ Polyamorous Winner of season eight of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Bob the Drag Queen, real name Caldwell Tidicue (he/him/she/her), is one of the biggest stars to come from the Emmy award-winning reality TV show. Bob has gone on to appear in TV shows such as Tales of the City, star alongside Drag Race alumni Shangela and Eureka in HBO’s We’re Here and have his comedy specials airing on Comedy Central and Amazon Prime Video.

Bob is in a relationship with his two boyfriends, Jacob Ritts (he/him) and Ezra Michel (he/him). In one of his recent YouTube videos, Bob says he met Jacob on Grindr in 2017 while he was doing a show. The Purse First star said he has never believed in monogamous relationships and he and Jacob decided to be open and polyamorous. The comedian said he saw Ezra on Instagram and after talking to Jacob about it, he pursued Ezra and they started dating. Derrick Barry, Nebraska Thunderfuck/Mackenzie Claude and Nick San Pedro: Throuple Las Vegas’s premier Britney Spears impersonator, Derrick Barry (he/him out of drag, she/her in drag), burst on the entertainment scene along with Bob on season eight of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Derrick’s throuple relationship was well known in the queer community since it was still uncommon at the time. Derrick and Nick San Pedro (he/ him) were initially in a monogamous relationship and got married. Then one of Nick’s exes introduced them to model Mackenzie Claude (he/him out of drag, she/her in drag). Derrick and Nick called the addition of Mackenzie to their relationship their fifth wedding anniversary gift. The trio is still going strong and recently appeared on the WOW Presents show RuPaul’s Drag Race: Vegas Revue. On the reality TV show, the trio gave a peek into their day-to-day life, from sleeping in the same bed to brushing their teeth together. Frankie Grande ex-couple: Former Throuple Most known for being Ariana Grande’s brother, Frankie Grande (he/ him) is in a monogamous relationship with actor Hale Leon (he/him). However, before this, the Celebrity Big Brother star was in a throuple with married couple Daniel Sonasohn (he/him) and Mike Pophis (he/him), dating them for five months in 2018.

Bob the Drag Queen and his boyfriends Ezra Michel and Jacob Ritts.

Speaking to Access Live at the time of making their relationship public, he said: “It is an ethical and committed non-monogamy. So everyone knows what’s going on, there’s no cheating, we’re actually in it together.” After their break-up Frankie said there were no hard feelings. Ezra Miller — Polycule Ezra Miller (they/them) is set to return in the DC Extended Universe as the Flash in Zack Snyder’s Justice League on March 18. Ezra made waves after they came out queer and non-binary since they landed leading roles in big-budget Hollywood movies. Ezra told Playboy Magazine that in 2018 they had gone through many failed relationships and had decided monogamy wasn’t for them. At the time, Ezra referred to themselves as a “sexual being”, saying they have companionship with various people, calling it a polycule. Talking about gaining membership to the polycule, they said: “I’m trying to find queer beings who understand me as a queer being off the bat, who I make almost a familial connection with.” Nico Tortorella & Bethany C Meyers — Polyamorous/Open Relationship A unique queer couple, Nico Tortorella (they/them) and Bethany C Meyers (they/them) have been together for more than 16 years. In 2018 they tied the knot and while at first glance they might appear to be a heterosexual couple, this is not

the case. They both identify as nonbinary and are sexually fluid. The former Younger star told Glamour US they had been polyamorous even before they had the vocabulary to explain it. Bethany shared in an MBG Relationship article that they still face regular relationship issues such as jealousy. “Jealousy is absolutely the hardest thing,” they said. “As humans, we want to feel like we’re No 1 in our relationships.” They said transparency was the important thing in their relationship and they had clear boundaries regarding intimacy with other people.

Nebraska Thunderfuck/Mackenzie Claude, Derrick Barry and Nick San Pedro.

Love is


POP INN ambassador Vincent “Vee” KaNkosi is the face of the latest campaign, Under My Umbrella, which promotes the use of PrEP to make queer love safe.


POP INN for a treat. That’s the call from POP INN, to Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) and Transgender Women (TGW), to visit their clinics for life-saving medication, and much more. POP INN offers free sexual health services to key populations at clinics around South Africa. It was established in 2019 by The Aurum Institute,

a global health impact organisation. Programme Manager Matshidiso Chabane said the clinics were opened to provide a tailored response to the increased risk of HIV and STIs among MSM and TGW. “It has been a long-standing challenge for members of this community to access healthcare services that neither cater for their specific needs nor provide stigma-free environments

where they feel comfortable to bring their health issues,” said Chabane. The clinics are a safe space for them to come in and collect Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and antiretroviral treatment (ART), get screened and treated for STIs and TB. “We have staff who provide psychosocial support, counselling or advice. We offer HIV testing, free condoms, lubricant and Covid-19

screening and referrals,” he said. All clinics have free WiFi, access to computers and comfortable spaces to relax and connect with peers. A POP INN client said that while transgender women enjoyed the same Constitutional rights as all South Africans, on paper many still felt discriminated against. “We would much rather go to organisations like The Aurum Institute for healthcare, where they take us seriously.” This marginalisation extends to the workplace and even their own families. “We have to ‘come out’ every day as we encounter new people and are constantly having to explain ourselves. It is a real struggle but we take the journey so we can raise awareness.” POP INN ambassador Vincent “Vee” KaNkosi said: “Self-acceptance is the key to protecting one’s peace in a world which still raises its eyebrows at ‘what’ we are and excludes us because of who we are.” KaNkosi is a POP INN client himself. “To walk into a clinic as a gay man and find people like me, and they see their attention drawn to me because of my positive energy and not by judgement, was so refreshing. I can say it’s life-saving because the discrimination can drive people away from seeking health care,” said KaNkosi. His vibrant character caught the eye of POP INN staff and he was invited to be an ambassador. “Being on PrEP means I have the power and control over my sexual health, and I want to empower others through my testimony,” he said. n Penfold is the Public Relations and Communications Consultant for POP INN and Abrahams is the Junior Communications Officer at The Aurum Institute

At the Durban launch of the under My Umbrella campaign, transactivist Leticia Sishi leads a candlelight ceremony in memory of members of the LGBTQI+ community and HIV activists who have been assaulted or killed for living openly. The event, during Transgender Awareness Week, was aptly held at the Gugu Dlamini Park, named in honour of the HIV activist who was stoned to death after publicly disclosing her HIV status in 1998.

Clinic locations

GAUTENG Winnie Mandela Clinic, Cnr Madiba Drive and Margaret Zuma St, Tembisa

KWAZULU-NATAL 125 Convention house, 2nd floor, Cnr of Florence Nzama St and Bram Fischer Rd, Durban

MPUMALANGA Shop U11, Nelcity, Cnr Samora Machel and Paul Kruger Street, Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit)

74 Greyling Street, Pietermaritzburg

Q&A ‘Gay love is also real love’, say Sandile Nxumalo, 35, and Qaphelani Twala, 30. The couple have been together for almost a year-and-a-half and are engaged. The POP INN clients share their love journey and how they strive to inspire and raise awareness. What attracts you to one another? Qaphela: Sandile is such a nice person, a true gentleman. He is humble and a real tease. Sandile: Q is soft-spoken, polite and shy, and he is cute. Describe your relationship? S: Our love is deep and strong. We are

very protective of each other. We are complicated. What challenges have you faced in your community? Q: Despite being part of this community and living peacefully with most people, we are often discriminated against. People don’t even realise they are stigmatising us. What have you done to overcome some of the challenges? Q: We are ourselves always and are proud of who we are. S: We are who we are, we cannot change that.

s i e v o L We spoke to Amp and Mr Kristofer about their relationship, the kink community and how the coronavirus pandemic has affected their lives


RELATIONSHIPS in the queer community come in all forms and sizes, but a community that doesn’t get the same amount of attention is the kink and leather set. YouTuber Amp and porn star and director Mr Kristofer have used their YouTube channel WattsTheSafeWord to educate, entertain and enlighten viewers on sex positivity, the kink community and all things queer. We spoke to them about their relationship, the kink community and how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their lives. How did you meet and when did you decide to become partners? We met at IML 2014 while Kristofer was doing bondage demos for his booth called BoundJocks. Amp came by the booth and asked how and when he could be tied up for a “demo”. We did a demo that ended far too quickly, and like a lost puppy he came back the following year. We hit it off and kept in contact. Eight months later, after a longdistance fling, Kris officially collared Amp as his only pup. Polyamorous is still a new concept for many people. What was your first conversation about being poly and open?

Pup Amp and Mr Kristofer say a love of bondage brought them together.

Queer + queer kink relationship

Truthfully, we didn’t actually have that conversation at the beginning, but were still a little wishy-washy on wanting a real relationship, so it very much started open. Amp was the pup, Kris was the Daddy and then we just kinda flowed organically. Kristofer had always had doms that were in and out of the picture, but the pup was a constant, and it wasn’t until Kristofer brought a boy into the mix that we sat down and talked about all of the poly dynamics. Why do you think many people are averse to polyamory and open relationships? We have been brought up in

mostly heteronormative households and get fed a steady diet of being monogamous. It’s the perpetuated stigma around different relationships that makes people so averse to trying new things. In reality, being able to communicate about the complexities of jealousy, consent, open relationships, brought us closer together. Religion plays a large factor in what we tell ourselves is socially acceptable as well, as does a lack of representation for those that are poly, open or monogamish; there just aren’t enough people normalising or having those conversations out in

the open. How does being kinksters play a part in your relationship? Well, our mutual love of bondage is what first brought us together, so that remains a big part of our relationship today, but obviously, it’s grown past that with the content we now create every week on the internet. We each encourage the other to explore the kinks that turn them on. Why do you think queer people are more open when it comes to unconventional relationships? Queer people don’t traditionally have the confines of legal marriage or kids to make them remain in a relationship they are unhappy in, so they give themselves the option to explore other people when things get rough. In the case of unconventional relationships, this is both a good and a bad thing, because sometimes sticking it out can have its unexpected rewards. What is some advice you can give someone who would like to be in a polyamorous and open relationship? Three words. Communication. Compromise. Compersion. Communication: talk about your dynamics with each other and set the rules that work for you both, talk about wants, needs and how this or that makes you feel. Compromise comes next: It shows you care about your partner and what they want. And finally, compersion, an empathetic state of happiness experienced when another individual experiences happiness. Compersion is pretty much the opposite of jealousy. You have YouTube and Twitch platforms through – what was the reason for starting the channel and being so open about life as a kinkster? The YouTube channel started about six years ago due to Amp, whose main source of entertainment was YouTube personalities. He and his friend Bolt started the channel because there was a lack of kinky education, but more importantly, LGBTQIA+ channels that covered topics seriously. The show started very bare-bones

Pup Amp and Mr Kristofer, aka Daddy.

with little production experience. That was until Daddy came along! Mr Kristofer was a porn star and director for 30-plus years and had tons of production and on-camera experience (even if it was mostly naked). Together we both just continued to live our lives as we always did, like an open book, and providing lived experiences in front of a camera. How has the pandemic affected your relationships? The better question is how hasn’t it affected everyone’s relationships? Kristofer stopped seeing all other people and we’ve just kept each other in our close pod of contact. It has made us stronger and more

understanding of each other’s needs. We have never been closer, but at the same time sex – sometimes its hard to feel into because of the stresses Covid causes in all other areas of your life. Why do you think there is still a stigma attached to members of the kink community? We’ve always viewed our kink identities as a second coming-out. Sometimes the shame and stigma we’ve been taught about kink our entire lives takes a long time to overcome. Similarly, kinksters have to fight how the media uses the trope of kink and BDSM as a joke or the dirty little secret in movies, TV and books. What is the best way for people to overcome kink shaming? We get that it may not turn you on, but it does for others, so why spoil their good time? If the person isn’t trolling you, they might just not realise how their stigma affects others, and having a quick convo around “why” this person feels this way might provide a moment of clarity. The best way to combat stigma is by providing that opportunity to teach someone.

Pup Amp and Mr Kristofer believe that education is the way to overcome stigma.

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Queer+ Movies

The Half Of It

Dear Ex

KAI Luke Brummer in Moffie.

Here are movies to catch that speak to the power of love LIAM KARABO JOYCE

AS WE celebrate love with this edition, here are movies to catch that speak to the power of love. MOFFIE Showmax Currently on the longlist for the Golden Globe’s Foreign Film category, Moffie won the Film Critics Special Jury Prize at the 2020 Dublin International Film Festival and has a 100% critics rating from Rotten Tomatoes, with Variety raving: “South African auteur Oliver Hermanus makes his masterpiece with this brutal but radiant story of young gay desire on the Angolan war front ... establishing him quite plainly as South Africa’s most vital contemporary film-maker … “Both a shiver-delicate exploration of unspoken desire and scarily brilliant anatomy of white South African masculinity. It takes your breath away.” Adapted from an autobiographical 2006 novel

by André Carl van der Merwe, Moffie is set in South Africa in 1981, with the white minority government embroiled in a conflict on the southern Angolan border. Like all white boys over the age of 16, Nicholas van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer) must complete two years of compulsory military service to defend the apartheid regime. The threat of communism and “die swart gevaar” is at an all-time high. But that’s not the only danger Nicholas faces. He must survive the brutality of the army – something that becomes even more difficult when a connection is sparked between him and a fellow recruit. The Half Of It Netflix Nancy Drew’s Leah Lewis stars as Ellie Chu, a shy and introverted Asian-American schoolgirl who agrees to help the school jock (Daniel Diemer) woo his crush. Plot twist alert: Ellie likes her too. Netflix’s official synopsis states: “In

the process, each teaches the other about the nature of love as they find a connection in the most unlikely of places.” The Half Of It received highly positive reviews upon release and won the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival. Dear Ex Netflix Dear Ex is a 2018 Taiwanese comedy-drama film co-directed by Mag Hsu and Hsu Chih-yen. It stars Roy Chiu, Hsieh Yingxuan, Spark Chen and Joseph Huang. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and was selected as the Taiwanese entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards, but it was not nominated. A teenager, Song Cheng-xi (Huang), becomes trapped in the middle of a bitter feud between his mother (Hsieh) and a free-spirited man (Chiu), who is both the lover and insurance beneficiary of Song’s recently deceased father (Chen).

Queer+ Books

Here is our list of books you should check out LIAM KARABO JOYCE

PROFESSIONAL athlete Jason Collins said in 2014: “Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.” He made history that year when he became the first male professional athlete to publicly identify himself as gay. After his announcement, a flood of other queer athletes began declaring their sexuality, revealing to the world that some of our greatest sports figures are members of the queer community. The openness to accept one another does not only apply in this context. In life, we are often told to be open to new experiences and adventures. And while you might think going on a road trip through Africa is an adventure, starting a new book can be just as adventurous, or opening yourself up to romantic love. Here are three books you should check out. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson The Argonauts has been

described as a genre-bending memoir, a work of autotheory that offers a fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its centre is a romance: the author’s relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes Nelson’s account of falling in love with Dodge, who is gender fluid, and her journey to and through pregnancy, offers a first-hand account of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making. Nelson ties her personal experience to an exploration of what iconic theorists have said about sexuality, gender and the institutions of marriage and child-rearing. Her insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry of this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman By now you have probably seen Call Me By Your Name, the movie. If you haven’t, no one is judging you; this is a

safe space. If you have not read the book the movie is based on, you’re missing out. The novel tracks the love story of Oliver and Elio, but where the movie offers a third-person look at both characters as they navigate their burgeoning romance, the novel places you solely in Elio’s mind as his feelings develop from mild crush to complete obsession. Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a searching and powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly. Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is 11 when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are both girls. When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living a lie.

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Queer Experience 1. NAME AND SURNAME Nkosana Leonardo Simelane. 2. Age Now 33, turning 34 on March 30. 3. City of residence Cape Town 4. Occupation Product Owner – Mobile app development within the FinTech space. 5. Gender identity and sexuality Gender Queer. Sexuality wise, I am becoming if you can call it that. So for simplicity sake, let’s just say pansexual. 6. How would you describe yourself? A complicated, gentle, beautiful, authentic and spiritual mess. Lol! I love authenticity, feel it’s one of those key ingredients in beautiful people. 7. How old were you when you knew you were part of the LGBTQIA+ community? I knew I was part of the community in my early teens (14/15) but I’ve always known that I was different from my brothers and sisters. 8. What was the response like from your family and friends? I never actually “came out” to my family, I just kept parts of myself hidden until I was independent. Then I started slowly being open about my life to my family and the

responses varied – some accepted who I was and some wanted to change or fix me. My grandmother is my biggest supporter, she only cares about my happiness and well-being. The only person I actually spoke to about my sexuality was my little brother, because he kept trying to set me up and obviously the choices were always not suitable. His response was cute, though – all he said was that he loved me and his blind date choices would be different going forward. 9. Were you scared to let others know about your sexuality and/or gender identity? Terrified! I had seen what happens to people who came out and lived authentically and that terrified me, still does. If I was going to be disowned by my family and friends, at least I needed to be independent, so I buried my face in books and became self-sufficient. 10. Tell us about the first time you experienced homophobia/ transphobia/ biphobia or queerphobia. I was called names all through primary and high school and iStabane is the one that was thrown frequently. I still have a tough time with that name. The first time I experienced the violence is what has stuck with me. We were at a club, a few guys had a problem with us being in that particular club (I don’t like going to “straight” clubs anymore, don’t feel

comfortable). Words were exchanged and one tried to break a bottle over my head. My friend stepped in and the bottle broke and cut her face. She still has a scar to this day. 11. What was it like being a member of the LGBTQI community in the area you lived in? Where I grew up, it wasn’t that great. If you lived open and out, you were a target for bullying, mockery and violence. After leaving home, I lived in predominantly Queer-friendly environments. Places I feel a bit safer walking around in. 12. What is it currently like for you? Great! I am privileged enough to choose where I stay, who I allow in my space and who I interact with. Something I wish and hope for everyone in our community. 13. How would you describe your overall experience as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community? A roller-coaster. I found my community but it wasn’t all that I expected, but it was glorious nonetheless. I’ve been accepted and rejected because of who I am within the community and that’s fine. I met some incredible people who helped me become the most authentic version of myself. Our community is full of the most beautiful authentic people, with immense capacity for acceptance and love. This is after everything else that we go through.