A lot of people assume having female friends as a gay man means you have a solid support. But this is not always the case, says Tafadzwa Gwese (24), most of whose friends are women. Here he tells us about the gay shaming, jealous jibes and drunken insults. The bottomline is that many female friends of gays are actually homophobic. Here is his story, as told to Siyanda Mbuzo.
Just because I’m gay doesn’t mean I’m a girl
Since I moved to Cape Town to study a few years ago, I’ve always been surrounded by female friends. Most of them are genuine, they always tell me they accept me being gay, but soon problems start to appear. They often say things behind my back, and when they realise I’m in earshot, try to justify their statements with, “I didn’t mean it like that. You know how supportive I am and how much I love you.” But once it’s out, it’s hard to forget how they truly feel.
There have been times when people have befriended me because, as they say, “I’m like one of the girls”. Because I’m attracted to men, they choose to forget my gender, and think I don’t mind being called “girl” or “she”. I’m offended because they stripping me of my manhood. They don’t treat straight guys like “one of the girls” just because they are not attracted to them, right?. They can accept that these guys are still men, even when they don’t try to sleep with their female friends.
I’m even a victim of jealous rages. Sometimes when I go clubbing with my female friends, they assume I won’t be macked on by guys because we’re at a “normal” club. Then when guys do approach me, my friends throw jealous tantrums and suddenly my homosexuality causes resentment, as it’s something that takes the guys away from them. A friend once said in a drunken state, “Chomi, I actually don’t like gay people and don’t understand this fashion of being gay,” after the guy she had had her eyes on all night, approached me.
No, I don’t need deliverance from my sexuality
I was raised in a Christian home with strict Christian values. But in my adult life my relationship with God has been tougher to uphold because of the way my Christian girl friends treat me. They think I’m their church project, a subject that must be changed as a testimony to God.
There have been times when we would be praying for someone at a church meeting, and a friend throws in, “A prayer of deliverance for homosexuals.” Making me feel like my sexual identity is an evil sickness. My friends always say they love me, but they want to change my lifestyle so I can fit into their expectations.
Before I came out, I let people make their own assumptions about me. Coming out means I have to address homophobia and not have to hide who are I am.
Photography: Onele Liwani