Discrimination Amongst The Discriminated

An insight into discrimination.

You walk into a clothing store. You see a ridiculously gorgeous pair of shoes. You try them on without thinking twice. They fit perfectly! It’s as if they were made just for you. You’re overwhelmed with excitement. Then you remember to check the price tag. Oy! The shoes cost more than the money you’ve saved all year. Reality kicks you in the butt – you’re not the richest. You slowly put the shoes back and head for the door. Only a certain economic class is catered to in this store.


Some see this as a minor issue compared to the great deal of discrimination we all face on a regular basis. True, it might not be a big deal but economic status can set a solid foundation for discrimination.


Being a South African, when you see the word discrimination, race is the first thing that comes to mind. We can understand where that comes from given the history of apartheid. This racial discrimination has inadvertently given birth to social and economic discrimination.


Of course, as a black person you were deprived a good education, access to resources, health care and other basic services, merely because of pigmentation!


Some find this irrelevant today since apartheid is news of the past. However, it significantly still has much to do with how minds function today. Those who were victimized are still recovering. Those who benefited recover quickly and encourage others to do the same.


But this is not about apartheid. This is about discrimination in its many forms. Even amongst blacks themselves.  As a black person, how many other black people have you discriminated against? Because they don’t look as pretty as you or maybe your dark shaded skin is not as dark as theirs?


Where am I going with this? This is just background on how we tend to discriminate against those who are different from us.


Racism, social inequality and homophobia are universal issues. In my life, I have fallen victim to all three. The latter, I still struggle to understand the most. You’re discriminated against only because you fall in love with the same sex.


I still fail to understand how loving someone can be so offensive to so many people. For instance, at work, if dressing as a butch lesbian is offensive, you have to change it just to accommodate the company’s ego and name.


The government and society sit comfortably in your bedroom, watching you, dictating to you what you can and cannot do. Shouldn’t the attention be on kids who die from hunger? Shouldn’t that energy be used to assist the fight against AIDS in Africa? Or fix the problems of corruption and poor service delivery?


As a gay person, you know how much that hurts right? Being deprived the right to be you when there are so many other things that deserve this unyielding attention.


Some gays stick together. I seldom go to lesbian gatherings and parties, even though they can be fun.


I’m with people who are no different from me for the first time in ages. We all live in a society where being you can get you killed and raped. This should be a safe space. I feel like I should belong here with these people. We all stand for the same thing.


Then reality kicks in. Overhearing offensive comments while I’m on the dance floor. Yes, I get ridiculed because I can’t open my eyes. I am blind and a lesbian. Therefore, I shouldn’t go to these events right? So many times I’ve been threatened for accidentally bumping into someone. Of course I’m bound to bump into things because I can’t see. My fellow gay people find it strange I go to these events and accidentally step on their expensive shoes.


I was assaulted at an event because I can’t open my eyes. Someone assumed I must be drunk. Many have asked me to look them in the eye and my inability to do so is a call for ridiculous comments.


Once a lesbian asked me, and I quote “You’re black, a lesbian and blind. Why do you have to do this to yourself?”


And so the discrimination sets in once more. The theme continues. Even in a space that is meant to be safe. Surrounded by people who have felt my pain or at least, some part of it.


As if it were all a choice. I’ve had a few encounters where it is okay to date me, only to keep it from your friends. Some say it is already difficult being a lesbian so what will people say when they find out they are seeing a blind person too? It’s too much. Yet it’s not too much to have a secret relationship with me.


I believe we don’t come out of the closet to only keep our disabled partners in the same closets we struggled coming out of.


Yes, you’ve been subject to discrimination as a gay person, big time. But do you think it is less painful when you direct the same kind of treatment to someone else? It certainly hurts just as much. Of course, I can’t paint everyone with one brush, just like there are people who aren’t homophobic in the world, there are people who are open minded about disability and homosexuality. The struggle remains. We’re trying to create a homophobic free world and equal rights for all. Whilst at it, let us not forget the fact that amongst our LGBTQI community there’s our brothers and sisters who are physically different too, and that discrimination exists among the discriminated. They deserve respect, love and dignity. Let’s look within and make our community what we want the world to be.


There are so many questions we ask ourselves, with no answers. But maybe it starts with posing these questions to the offenders, rather than the offended. This is not a lot, but it is a good place to start.