A day where all that matters is being yourself completely. In celebration of identity, flamboyant outfits, blissful conversation buzz, unity, stream of alcohol, and more, adorn Queer Pride day. This is the day almost every queer person looks forward to all over the world.
In 1990 the first ever gay Pride Parade in Africa happened in Johannesburg with less than a thousand people who took part. Some of them concealed their faces avoiding being identified, which would put their lives in danger. It all began as a political movement. However, over the years it has become more celebratory. To date, up to 30 000 people attend this event with pride and no hidden identity.
It is with great sadness that for some people this is the only day they can be openly who they are. It's not even the entire day. Some people have to hide where they're going from family and friends, meaning they can only freely represent who they are when they reach the place where Pride takes place. Some people who have been brave enough to be completely out of the closet usually fail to understand this, leading to ridiculing those who are only openly queer on Pride day. Given very different living conditions of each individual, some are more prone to violence than others, therefore they take measures which they consider safe for them.
I remember my very first Pride a couple of years ago when I was a first year at university. A day before the event I was a little excited and more terrified. I asked a friend of mine who had been openly gay for a while. "What do people wear at these events" "how do lesbians dress like", " do blind people even attend gay things". He simply said "wear anything that makes you feel comfortable. Anything you feel represents who you feel you are. There's no memo"
I then knew exactly what I wanted to wear. Pants and a shirt and sneakers I picked from the boys section. I secretly bought these a couple of months before I started university. I once attempted wearing these going out with my late sister. Oh Lord! The shock her voice conveyed when she saw me! She said " oh dear! I had no idea being blind was so hard! You don't even know what classy ladies wear!"
Deep down I knew I felt ridiculously attractive in that outfit, but I shamefully took it off and buried it in my closet. Few months later when my friend told me to wear what I'm comfortable with I damn knew this was the day I dig out my favorite outfit. The excitement elevated. A thought creeped in seconds after that. I remembered I wasn't going to be invisible from people when I'm making my way to Pride. I felt the outfit would automatically out me.
Funny because even though I was prepared to dig out my boyish outfit from the closet, I was committed to remaining buried in the closet.
My stomach turned and I knew I had to stick to my very girly outfit just for control. I had so many scenarios playing in my head. I knew I was blind and therefore more vulnerable to successful attacks of hate.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not promoting hiding one's identity in fear of violence. I strongly believe one should be and represent whoever they truly are. Nonetheless, we can't turn a blind eye to harsh realities black queer people face in our country. For whatever explanation, some people tend to be more resilient than others. Some can, with no hesitation whatsoever, just be who they are and have no fear in showing the world. I believe it's everyone's dream to get to that point. The pace and routes toward that end goal is however different with each individual. Who knew I could now freely be who I truly am? Wearing whatever I want, and the most fun one is using my disability for my own advantage, I can Touch a woman's body without coming across as a pervert. I have to know how everyone I come across look like and I can only do so by touching and getting a sense of how they look like. I mean the boobs too :). None of you sighted people can do that and get away with it. It certainly took a lot of hard work to get to accept and embrace my disability together with being a lesbian. Now I'm a lot happier.
Okay, before I get lost in talking about myself, my point is that being free and being your true self only in certain settings and being a prisoner in many ways is a tough life.One's life shouldn't be a paradox. It's exhausting. I hope one day we will live in the world where being yourself anytime is the only option. That'll happen when all threats to queer identities have been abolished. Then everyone can experience the sweetest taste of taking Pride in their awesome identities.