We are all still getting used to the LGBTQ+ community, but some are still clueless and biased about what it is and why it exists. We all want to be ourselves wherever we go and not pretend to be someone we are not, only to make some feel comfortable.
Some families have made it clear that their kids are to act right and not be themselves, and by doing right, they try their best to be someone they are not and end up losing themselves.
What is the meaning of LGBTQ?
The terms lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) describe distinct groups within the gay culture. The early initiatives for people who were gay focused mostly on men. So, in an attempt to draw attention to issues specific to gay women, "lesbian" is often listed first.
People who are bisexual or transgender have traditionally been left out of, or underrepresented in, research studies and health initiatives. It is now considered standard to include these groups along with gay men and lesbians.
What is sexual orientation?
According to researchers Susan Cochran and Vickie Mays, sexual orientation includes the following dimensions:
-sexual attraction: attraction that makes people desire sexual contact or shows sexual interest in another person(s).
-sexual behavior: exhibited by individuals to gratify one of their basic needs, that is the sexual need. Often the way in which sexual behavior is practiced may lead to negative consequences. However, the definition of a sexual behavior as risky varies with regards to culture, gender, age, and the threshold.
-sexual fantasies: sometimes (but not always!) a window into what people want to experience in their own relationships
-emotional, social, and lifestyle preferences: Most LGBTQ+ individuals are incredibly resilient and will thrive in the face of adversity, with the help of supportive families, communities, and peers. One study even found that LGBTQ+ people used mental health services at 2.5 times higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts.  However, they are also at particular risk for experiencing shame, fear, discrimination, and adverse and traumatic events.
-self-identification: is the concept that a person's legal sex or gender should be determined by their gender identity without any medical requirements
Heterosexual, or straight, refers to people whose sexual and romantic feelings are mainly toward the opposite gender: Men who are attracted to women and women who are attracted to men.
Homosexual, or gay, refers to people whose sexual and romantic feelings are especially toward the same gender: Men who are attracted to men and women who are attracted to women.
Lesbian refers to women who are homosexual.
Bisexuals, sometimes known as bi, are people who have sexual and romantic feelings for both genders.
Transgender is an umbrella term that encompasses a diversity of gender expressions, including drag queens and kings, bi-genders, crossdressers, transgenderists, and trans-sexuals.
Transvestites are people who like to dress like members of the opposite sex.
Transsexuals are people who feel that their anatomical sex does not match the gender with which they identify.
Bigender refers to people who define themselves as having the behavioral, cultural, or psychological characteristics associated with both the male and female genders.
Transgenderist describes someone who is gender variant or transgresses gender norms as part of their lifestyle or identity.
Serving as a tasty prelude to Pride Month, our celebration of the existence and contribution of the LGBTQIA+ community, Genesis All Black, proved a fitting pre-gathering for Johannesburg’s Queer community. Hosted on 28 May 2022 in the eclectic Newtown area of Jozi, with the support of Johnnie Walker and Heineken as sponsors, this event produced a roster of incredible local artists and performers. In a wall-to-wall lineup of local talent, led by the likes of Blxckie, Reece Madlisa, and Zuma, accompanied by a plethora of exciting deejays such as Fiflaaa, Skits & Nkuley, and more.
A key element that drove the success of the “party scene” during this era of 70s New York was the thriving queer Black community. Now fast forward over fifty years from then and analyze Johannesburg – has much really changed? I think not. Topical queer and femme-forward events such as Vogue Nights, by Lelowhatsgood, further reinforce my point.
Vogue Nights Jozi, founded by eponymous award-winning cultural curator, writer, and Deejay, Lelowhatsgood, is at the forefront of reinventing and redefining South African queer culture through tastefully curated ballroom events. These are inclusive and centered around dance, music, and fashion. It reminds me of how aptly Siwa Mgoboza described it with his art fair ‘Siyabangena'.
“It’s a movement that is redefining culture, shifting norms and proclaiming Johannesburg’s nightlife scene that’s rarely inclusive.” – Between 10 and 5
Lelo is one of many queer identities creating safe spaces for the LGBTQI community in this country. He endowed a space (which I believe should be a norm) to queer identities for them to freely and safely enjoy the nightlife both in Johannesburg and Cape Town with no fear of being ridiculed and abused physically and sexually by homophobes and men.
Lelo mentioned that some of the values at Vogue Nights Jozi are passed down from traditional ballroom scenes across the globe – placing queer people at the forefront by celebrating each other, supporting those who need it most, and making sure the place is safe enough.
Although it is tricky to ensure that spaces are 100% safe, we still impose community rules such as zero tolerance for harassment, asking for consent, and respecting everyone.
One of my biggest dreams and hopes is to ensure nightlife spaces are more than just fun, but a place for fantasy to live in reality and become life-changing.
Lenzo/Thulani: The essence of our brand has always been to create fun, inclusive spaces that foster growth and understanding in culture. If you look back to the Genesis pre-event video of 2016, we speak about The Impossible Dream. A dream we all share, and we have seen cultivated by brands like KOP & Vogue Nights.
Joy Anelisiwe: Every generation takes pride in the progress they make — rightfully so — due to the imaginations that they manage to make a reality. We look back at the Sophiatown of the 50s and the movements of the 90s and early 2000s in South Africa as defining times that retrospectively give dignity to the country's nightlife history.
Amira: We live in a culturally dynamic and complex society. Jozi has provided our generation with the access to create spaces that hold the complexities of so many identities and cultural nuances, which I think we often take for granted because it can sometimes feel so accessible for those of us who are so close to the hub of all these culturally complex spaces that are holding spaces for subcultures to evolve and live.
In the same way — very different context — Sophiatown in the 50s created an escape, a place for expression for black South Africans during Apartheid. Even so, we forget how often these spaces can feel and be inaccessible.
Edited by Sara Irfan
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