But what does it really mean to be Queer? Yes, it’s an identity but it also conveys a sense of community. Queer isn’t a synonym for gay, but even in 2020, it still confuses the best out of many.
Queer is a word that clarifies that one is not straight and it ties them to the larger queer community, but it doesn’t categorize them as gay. The vagueness of the term is intentional-queer is an identity created for anyone outside of the heterosexual norm and meant to be inclusive and create a sense of acceptance.
While all labels used to describe one’s sexual orientation are unique to the individual, unlike homosexual, queer is an umbrella term that can be used by anyone under the LGBTIQ spectrum. Queer conveys both an orientation and a sense of community. ‘’The community aspect states ‘Because we’re all different, we can celebrate our differences. I can accept you for who you are, and there’s power in numbers’ there’s an aspect to it that doesn’t allow for isolation.
Some folks who fall somewhere in the middle of the sexual orientation spectrum, will describe themselves as queer rather than bisexual or pansexual. Others will use both and introduce themselves as bisexual and queer. The term queer is also used by those whose gender does not fall on the binary’’
The celebration and use of the word queer is one of reclamation. Not so long ago, queer was still used as slur. It was a derogatory term. The reclamation of the word is like, this is who I am, we don’t need to be like everyone else; let’s celebrate our differences, and don’t try to put me in any sort of box of who you need me to be because I’ll continuously try to break down the boxes. It is worth noting that while the word queer is generally celebrated, some LGBTIQ folks still prefer to avoid it due to its discriminatory history.
Sex planning is touchy, and when you’re queer, you often are asked things about your sexuality or find people assuming things about how you engage in sex that are entirely ignorant. Now, we all know LGBTIQ folks get asked a lot of strange and awkward questions when it comes to sex. Society, family, friends and pretty much everyone else will have something to say, and it can get awkward.
One person is more masculine, one is more feminine. Also known as: one person is always the top, one person is the bottom. Or, one person is the ‘man’ and the other person is the ‘woman.’ Assuming this masculine/feminine kind of relationship dynamic is myopic and will not make you look cool or informed. Queer people, just like all people, do not always take on traditional gender roles, whether both people have penises or both have vaginas.
We are talking about two human people here who may or may not be versatile when to comes to toping or bottoming or who may or may not stay in specific roles during sex. This logic applies to heterosexual couples too, by the way. For cisgender straight couples, it’s still wrong to assume that just because you have a vagina, you’re automatically down to take orders, or that just because you have a penis, you are in charge.
People assume that someone who is dominant is always controlling. If you find out a queer person is dominant in the bedroom, don’t assume that they are the one controlling the relationship. Likewise, if someone is submissive, don’t assume they can’t wear the pants. Who they are in bed is not always who they are in life. This is falling into that ‘one must be masculine, one feminine’ trap again. Sure, if one person is dominant in the sack, they totally might be dominant in the relationship, but you cannot assume that.
Queer sex is not some simple thing you can put into a box of ‘yes, that counts’ and ‘no, that doesn’t’. Penetration is not necessarily always involved when it comes to queer sex. Some cisgender gay women define sex between two women as when someone has an orgasm. Now, this is not necessarily how every person would define sex between two vagina owners. Anal sex does not always qualify as sex between two penis owners. Queer sex is not seen in the black and white, penis in the vagina that heterosexual sex is often, and most probably wrongly defined.
In his quest to explain all this misconceptions, blogger and owner of local artvism blog Banana Emoji Tanlume Enyatseng is hosting the third instalment and first of its 2020 edition of Banana Club, a platform aimed at informing, inspiring and engaging with various key publics in an effort to lead a relevant and dynamic conversations. The third club session will delve into the topic ‘sexual health and wellbeing in the LGBTIQ community’, next week in Gaborone.
He told Weekend Life that ‘’this particular session of Banana Club seeks to explore issues around queer sex, consent, pleasure and sexual health and wellbeing in the LGBTIQ community in hopes of encouraging people to think differently about sex in an environment that is truly inclusive. Sexual health is a fundamental human right and we believe in equal access for all people irrespective of gender or sexuality. Banana Club remains committed to changing the narrative that the queer community are difficult to reach; we ask instead where the gaps in knowledge are, what type of interventions will address them and work with communities to create culturally specific interventions.’’
Banana Club indicated that it welcomes the support of allies that agree with its manifesto and wish to work with them to achieve a certain aim. The session is split into two halves; one half being dedicated to sharing personal experience, with each participant free to contribute as much or as little as they want and the second half being dedicated to questions and answers. With the help of the community, Banana Club wants to pinpoint where health institutions and practitioners are failing LGBTIQ people and propose ways that might remedy this. The session will be documented as part of a research process.
Enyatseng further indicated that as Banana Club, they seek to challenge dominant narratives and create a space in which the queer community can discuss freely, saying when they share their stories, they foster visibility and wipe out myths. ‘’the visibility that comes from different people sharing experiences, queering and disrupting views of the world, is a celebration of plurality’’ he said.
Bananaemoji.com established in 2016 is a blog that illustrates today’s evolving culture through art, social commentary, fashion and humor. Its readers are anything but the normal, they’re bold, free-spirited life lovers who recognize that perfection is boring. The blog reaches a community of over 6000 views around the world and works from the website have been published in such platforms as WeTransfer, Blaque Magazine, AfroPunk as well as Guardian.
According to World Population Review, women aged 16-19 are four times more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault and female college students ages 18-24 are three times more likely to experience sexual assault. Transgender people and those with disabilities are twice as likely to be victims of sexual assault or rape.
From these very statistics Botswana can be found second only to neighbouring South Africa with the highest rape cases in the world. The number of incidents per 100,000 citizens do not take into account the number of cases that have not been reported to authorities. This goes without saying that Botswana may very well be on the same level as South Africa if not surpassing it.
Most of these victims have a hard time dealing with the violence they faced to an extent where it affects their day to day life.
WeekendLife interviewed rape survivor, Patience Ruwona, who was raped at the age of 15. Ruwona shared her gruesome experience and what it took for her to find healing, gather strength and move forward.
“It happened eight years ago and at the time I was only 15 years old. My mother was staying with her boyfriend at the time. So it happened that one day I came early from school. I was still doing form 2. I was the first one to come back from school. The boyfriend was home. So when I was changing into home clothes in my room, the boyfriend came in without even knocking. He then told me my mother has left some money so that whoever comes back first from school can go and buy meat,” Ruwona narrated.
“I then told him I will come get the money when I am done. He went back to his room. So after I finished changing, I went to their room. I knocked and he told me to come in. When I got, I found him half naked with only a towel. That made me feel very uncomfortable because when we were growing, we were taught never to enter an elder’s room when they are not fully dressed. I told him I came to collect the money and he pointed the dressing table.”
Unbeknownst to the young unsuspecting Ruwona, her mother’s then boyfriend would then grab the young lad, rip apart her garments and have his way with her. When Ruwona threatened to expose him, the audacious perpetrator would laugh in her face, telling her that there would be nothing her mother would do about the incident. And true to his words, Ruwona’s mother did not flinch upon hearing the gruesome crime that befell her daughter.
“In the evening when my mother came I told her everything. It was a simple thing to her and she never took it seriously. I told her I am bleeding and she said go and wash up we will talk about this some other time. Just like that suddenly I recalled that man’s words and I truly believed him. Till then I have not told anyone about this. I thought my mother is going to protect me, so if my mother failed to protect me no one else could protect me,” said a distraught Ruwona.
Seeking help after being raped
“Physically I had no desire to have sexual intercourse, I was scared. Years passed by and emotionally I was still battling because there were days I had flashbacks of the rape. It’s like a wound, it can never heal but it can stop bleeding. It never heals. It will bleed another time. I felt uncomfortable around men and I never went for counselling. I never went for anything, I thought I will cope on my own,” she said.
“So one day I decided enough is enough and I decided to speak out. That time I figured counselling would be best. I later went for counselling and I was doing well. I had to accept it happened and put everything in the past. Forgiving my mother helped me to heal.”
Director of Save A Woman, Babedi Samakabadi, has highlighted that rape is a permanent wound that one has to live with for the rest of their lives.
“The first thing the victim can do is to admit that they have been abused and they should be able to talk about it to whoever they can trust; could be a close relative, a counsellor, a friend or a pastor. It is not easy to take a step towards your healing but it must be done.
Victims of rape, must create a huge room in their hearts to forgive the perpetrators even when they are not sorry, forgiveness will help the victim to make peace with life and the future. Forgiveness will allow the victim to be able to get over the horrible experience and not associate the intimate relations as abuse at all times,” said Samakabadi.
“If one doesn’t allow themselves to heal and move on, dating and engaging in intimate matters are going to be a problem in their lives. As the victim can disclose to whoever they trust like friends or family, they are also advised to seek more especially professional counselling for proper psychological therapy, as the memories of the incident may torment the victim therefore therapy may assist with getting to live with such memories without being drawn back or life progress being affected . Lastly, the victims must know that issues as these aren’t easy to deal with through our own ability, we need God for strength, wisdom and courage. We have no power to diminish some of the weight in our emotions or the damage done to our souls and hearts, hence we need God to carry us through.”
If you or a loved one is in need of help in dealing with rape or gender based violence, the following organisations provide free counselling services;
BOFWA (Botswana Family Welfare Association) 390 0489
BOSASNET (Botswana Substance Abuse Support Network) 395 9119
LIFE LINE 391 1270
MBGE (Men and Boys for Gender Equality) 395 7763
BGBVC (Botswana Gender Based Violence and Support Centre) 390 7659
BOCAIP (Botswana Christian AIDS Intervention Programme) 391 6454
After its initial outbreak with a cluster of pneumonia cases at a seafood, poultry and live wildlife market in Wuhan City, China, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across the globe. The virus has hammered economies worldwide and brought devastation to many.
On 16 September Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a church with thousands of members in various countries, held a global online prayer service to pray for the victims of the coronavirus and their families, healthcare workers, government officials and for the complete eradication of and cure for Covid-19.
The virtual prayer service was live-streamed to the entire congregation with more than 200,000 members in countries all over the world participating, including the USA, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
In keeping with social distancing, health protocols and protecting its members from possible exposure to the coronavirus, Shincheonji arranged the virtual gathering for members to pray together in safety and set an example for others.
Prayers were mainly for the healing of those infected with the virus, for overworked healthcare workers who are struggling to fight Covid-19, and for people in economic distress in the wake of the pandemic. The overwhelming online participation from its members worldwide showed the desire and urgency to end this virus and for healing and restoration in communities.
The Chairman of Shincheonji Church Mr Manhee Lee suggested this online virtual gathering and said that all believers will continue to pray at the church’s worship services until the complete eradication of the coronavirus.
At least 1,700 of the church’s South Korean-based congregation have donated their blood plasma for research around an effective treatment. Convalescent plasma has also showed promise as therapy for Covid-19 and is believed to have reduced the severity of symptoms in critical patients.
“In order to defeat Covid-19, we need to embrace, love, and unite,” as global citizens, the church said. “We wanted to do all we can as believers by praying for the people working to prevent the spread of the virus and healthcare workers who are working at the frontlines of this battle against Covid-19 and we believe that God will answer our earnest prayers.”
The annual prestigious music awards, African Muzik Magazine Awards and Music Festival (AFRIMMA), has resumed this year. But this time around with a virtual version of it.
The awards that celebrate the originality of African music has unveiled their seventh edition. The awards seek to promote the African talent by bringing together on the same stage African legendary artists to celebrate African culture.
The event was established by the International Committee of AFRIMMA, in collaboration with African Union to reward and celebrate musical works, talents and creativity around the African continent while promoting the African cultural heritage amongst African countries.
However after the Covid-19 global pandemic, the event will not be hosted on a live global stage, but it will be hosted virtually and nominees are expected to deliver their performances virtually. The AFRIMMA Virtual Awards 2020 is set to be the first of its kind in the African music world with performances coming from different artists around the world and audience catching the performances, speeches and award presentations on multiple streaming devices.
Amongst the many who are nominated by the AFRIMMAs is local sensation Vee Mampeezy who has been nominated in the category for Best Male Southern African alongside music giants, Black Coffee- South Africa, Slap Dee – Zambia, Cassper Nyovest- South Africa, Master KG- South Africa, Jah Prayzah – Zimbabwe, Vee Mampeezy – Botswana, Shyn – Madagascar, Tshego- South Africa, Tha Dogg – Namibia and Yanga Chief – South Africa.
Mampeezy has established with WeekendLife that prior to that, he had received an email from AFRIMMA confirming his nomination. They wished for him to perform which he said he will confirm the performance first with his manager, but as for now he is not sure if he will be performing.
“We have accepted the nomination. It is such an honour to be nominated alongside music giants like Black Coffee. I am very excited, others I am not as excited to be nominated alongside them because I have been nominated before with them. I do not mean to say they are not great, they are great in their respective right,” he said.
“We should be excited as a country that Botswana has been nominated as well. Before anything else, the fact that we are there as nominees makes us winners. It is such an honour to be recognised more so that Botswana is a small country with a very small population.”
Famous and most decorated artists the likes of Diamond Platnumz, Mr Flavour, Harmonize, Davido and Jah Prayzah are also amongst the nominees. However, South African based artist affectionately known as Master KG has been nominated six times for Video of the year, Best Male Southern Africa, Artist of the year, Best Collaboration as well as song of the year.
Master KG’s song ‘Jerusalem’ has been making waves internationally, and it was used mostly during the pandemic to shake off the Covid-19 anxiety. The song was nominated after South African Music Awards (SAMA) failed to nominate the young talented artist.