Out of the closet. Into the streets

By Somila Tiwani

In South Africa, the LGBTQI+ community has come a long way with much progress recognized with celebrating its members. This progress has also inspired individuals to “come out of their closet”, that is to embrace their sexuality. “Coming out” refers to the process of recognizing, accepting, and sharing one’s gender identity and/or sexual orientation with others. For some, it may be quick and easy, but for others, it will be longer and more challenging.

The acronym (LGBTQI+) stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersexual and the + is an indication of different sexual orientations such as Asexual, Pansexual, and Ally, a term used to describe a non-queer individual who supports and advocates for the Queer Community.

In most countries, including South Africa, June is officially recognized as Pride Month. Pride Month is for everyone to embrace who they are and it also serves as an opportunity to raise awareness of current issues facing the LGBTQI+ community.

The rainbow represents the month-long celebration’s diverse activities and flavors. Massive rallies, pride parades, parties, workshops, concerts, and countless other LGBTQI+ activities draw people from all over the world. The Pride community takes great pride in their cause, dressing up in colorful costumes, make-up, and of course, glitter for the world to see.

Coming out can be a challenging journey, but it can also be liberating and empowering one. You can now be genuine and true to yourself. You can come across a large community of people who are like you and feel supported and encouraged.

Even if it’s frightening to consider coming out to others, the benefits might outweigh the difficulties. Take pride in acknowledging yourself.

This Youth Month, as we reflect on the 1976 Soweto Uprising, an iconic period in South African history in which the youth defied the apartheid system to fight injustice, it is equally important to celebrate the LGBTQI+ community.

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