I grew up in the ghetto, i was born in one of Harare’s oldest suburbs Mbare. I recall with exasperation how during high school days a bunch of bullies from my school neighbourhood used to hurl homophobic insults at me. Their aim was obviously to humiliate me in front of other school kids.
Fortunately for me, the joke was always on them because no one took them seriously, even themselves. They were bitter, jobless, bullies who derived pleasure from frustrating and harassing passersby, although it seems i was their easy target especially during home time after school.
Then there were these two men from another neighbourhood, who seemed to get an orgasm from shouting profanities and homophobic slurs at me every time. Wherever they are today, I bet they rue the day they ever tried to lay their hands on me. On that particular day i was with my sister, when they tried to push me around. We teamed up and beat them up thoroughly , people failed to control the fight all they could do was watch. My dad’s friend who was driving by forced us into the car, and promised he was going to report us. When my dad came home that night, he was irate .Being the very strict man he was, i thought he was going to punish us, instead he sat us down and lectured us on how we have to stand for ourselves but without resorting to violence.He probably had his friends pressuring him to reprimand us for our supposedly ‘wayward behaviour’, i suspect he was also worried that these men would revenge.
We wanted to defend ourselves, to explain the incessant insults and how the men started the altercation, but for fear of being penalised we didn’t.
This incident is an illustration of the retribution our families also face from all corners of society. It also reveals how people mostly ‘men’ always feel threatened by LGBT people. They think they have carte blanche to harass and attack anyone who does not kow tow to their patriarchal beliefs and thinking.
I know of two men, who regardless of their patriarchal socialisation have never felt threatened by my gender expression or identity. I learn a lot from my Dad and my brother. Right or wrong, i appreciate the role they play in my life in shaping the person I am. The more they are judged, harassed, attacked by society for accepting protecting and loving me, the more they express their unconditional love for me..
a brother and a father..