The running theme throughout this blog has been about homosexuality on television, and we shall continue with this topic in this insert as we look at the subject of homosexual breadwinners in South Africa and the effects it has on the family and the gay person themselves.
I was inspired to write on this topic by a recent episode of Etv’s youth soapie Rythm City. the soapies only gay character Stone Khuse( real name: Zenzo Ngqobe) tries to support his family by taking up the role of father-figure in the absence of the his real father Kop Khuse, who had to take a truck-hauling job in order to pay off the debt he owed to the loan shark Ding-Dong.
Stone manages to repay the debt owed by his father, however, he then has to take a job as the ding-dong’s debt collector; a job wich tests his manhood to the highest level.
As a gay man, Stone has to battle with stamping his authority on those who he collects money from (sometimes close family friends), and this eventually leads him into developing a violent streak which he unleashes on those who fail to pay up.
Added to this, Kop returns from his long trucking excursions to find that Stone has taken over the family responsibilities and is now the financial provider for the family.
This fact makes Kop furious, he feels useless since he can’t provide for his family in the way that Stone does, and also feels somewhat inferior to his son because he did not manage to secure the safety of his family like his son is doing. Stone senses his father’s anxiety and feels frustrated since he cannot help his father get over his insecurities.
Stone’s dilemmas had me thinking, hard. The must be a lot of gay people out there who are their families’ breadwinners and who struggle to maintain authority over the household as they might be perceived as ‘too weak’ to lead a family.
How do these gay breadwinners deal with the pressures of leading a family ( a role usually associated with straight fathers) as well as the struggle for acceptance in a largely homophobic society.
From my personal experiences, homosexual men in the townships, are considered more female than male, they are subject to constant harassment and ridicule, which sometimes leads them to being aggressive and forcibly portraying ‘manly’ characteristics in order to be accepted.
The character of Stone epitomizes the above statement well. He constantly has to switch between the roles caring gay guy and the ruthless debt collecting enforcer. This leads me to think that there must be a lot of gay men and women out there who are the foundation of their families but do not receive the respect they deserve for assuming such a challenging role.
It would be wonderful if our society could be more accepting of these people, instead of passing misinformed judgement on homosexual family leaders.
They are just like you and me, people with hopes and dreams, challenges and fears, love and intelligence. It is only fair and constitutionally just, to afford them the same love and respect that we give to all other adults and family leaders.
I’d like to applaud South African soapies for highlighting these issues, and for helping us understand and tolerate homosexual people more than we already do.
Here are some interesting links on this topic if you;d like to find out more:
Sexual orientation and household decision making. Same-sex couples’ balance of power and labor supply choices
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