“Art’s always been about personal expression for me,” says Obie Mavuso. “I just want to make a positive change through my art and shift people’s mindsets.”
If you’re familiar with Cape Town’s indie music circuit, you’ve probably heard Obie’s name before. Besides being a popular musician and filmmaker, the 25-year-old is also the co-founder of Jam That Session, a creative platform that showcases up and coming creative practitioners.
Obie is also taking on the gender inequalities in arts and entertainment. Last year, she founded Queers on Smash, “a queer and unorthodox lifestyle company offering fun and inclusive queer spaces.” At the core of her work is a desire to create a place where queer people can party, talk and hangout without all the discrimination that society projects onto the LGBTI community.
Black queers only
Last month, they hosted their first blacks only “queer social” event in Cape Town. “The response was amazing,” she recounts. “A lot of people came up to me on the day and told me they were happy to be at the social. That was the main point for me. It wasn’t really about me, but for people like myself. We (black LGBTI people) needed a space where we could feel safe and belong.”
Some of the event’s highlights included an open discussion on what it means to be black and queer in Cape Town. Author and stage actress Buhle Ngaba also gave a talk about her recently released book Girl Without A Sound, which is a fairytale written specifically for black girls.
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Backlash for being exclusionary
This isn’t to say the event was without controversy. Obie drew the ire of some parts of the LGBTI community, who said the event was exclusionary. She shrugs off the criticism. “Yeah, there was some backlash when I was initially planning the event. A couple of people even started an #ObieMustFall hashtag but whatever.”
This hasn’t deterred her. Next month, she’s hosting another black queer social. This time in Johannesburg. “Artists break rules all the time and bigots, racists and homophobes could never deter us from sharing our messages.”
Image: Andiswa Mkosi
This story was originally published on Red Bull Amaphiko