I came to the realisation that I was attracted to womxn in High School. These were the early 2000s, I was an overly protected child coming to terms with my sexuality. II first “came out” or identified as bisexual. In an all girls school, this seemed to be a safe alternative. Bisexuality provided the safety of assumed heterosexuality as the “natural” default. However, instead of coming out as a lesbian in tertiary, I actually reverted to identifying as heterosexual. Looking back now I think heterosexuality was a safety net, my cloak of invisibility from the violence of a homophobic world.
I remember almost to the moment, the day I realised I was possibly lesbian. I had just come back from school and the Redi Tladi (then Direko) show Rights and Recourse was playing and she was interviewing Wendy Isaacks – a visibly butch lesbian. That day something in me dropped – or rather arose. I felt like I knew Wendy. Looking at her felt like looking in a mirror. The full breathe of possibility laid in front of me; who I could be, love, become! Looking at her was a scary realisation but also a relief. Through them I could picture myself – it was as close to a spiritual awakening as I would ever come.
And part of being Lesbian/Queer is the silence which envelopes us, there is a deep lack of language and vocabulary; a grammar of articulating our experiences. Part of Mathoko is to begin to explore this language, tell our stories in ways that inspire possibility and multiplicity outside the heteronormative ways we are told we must stick to.
The Black lesbian/Queer love series is a series which celebrates all things love and possibility. I will be interviewing various Black lesbian/Queer couples to find out how do they communicate and how do they figure out and live out what they believe is BlackLesbian/Queer love. Through each couple I will explore the key themes and languages which might be useful tools in our own relationships. I will then take excerpts from the interview to highlight and where possible leave audio links to interview of the couple below.
Let’s meet our first couple!!! Nolwazi Tunsini and Sethu Nguna!!! (I must disclose that I love these two. I have known Nolwazi for a minute and she is someone I have made the conscious decision to have in my life because she is just the most inspiring and intelligent person ever!!)
Their relationship is inspiring because it reflected such unbridled and uncensored joy and ease of being. Their pictures reflected two people that felt and looked held in their relationship (don’t all couples do though?). Nolwazi and Sethu are in a long distance relationship and as such communication has been an important part of their relationship.
What struck me about their relationship was the ease with which they could be honest and forthcoming of themselves. Listening to them, I felt an ease of communication through which they could bring ALL of themselves into the relationship without feeling a need to cut out the unpleasant parts.
Admittedly they both had different communication styles; Sethu insists Nolwazi is repetitive and Nolwazi enjoys Sethu’s “soft bluntness”. I think it is important to understand that within our communications styles are embedded value systems. In my opinion the value system underlying both their communication styles were honesty and truth. We can debate whether “honesty” is used as a tool to harm or as a tool of liberatory actualization (mmmm, I smell another self-care article).
Back to Nolwazi and Sethu, I think their honesty and truth-telling comes from an individual self-awareness. In other words they both understand themselves outside of the relationship to the extent that they could then be honest within the relationship. One of the key ingredients to being a good communicator is knowing yourself and your needs – that knowledge allows you to communicate from a place of truth. So when your partner asks you, What is wrong, you’re able to locate the source of the problem and articulate it in clear and concise terms.
One of the important things I want bring out in this BlackLesbian/QueerLove series is the broad spectrum of ways of existing in a relationship and communicating.
Sethu says existing separately is as important as existing collectively and insists on maintaining the individuality you came into the relationship with. I AGREE!! One of the habits I’ve seen in relationships is the tendency to merge. In short the urge to merge is when a couple gets together and all of a sudden they begin to function as one – they have the same group of friends, they move in together within the first month, they get “engaged”, buy a dog/cat/pet together. This type of merging doesn’t leave room for individual growth and self-actualization and is often the foundation for toxic relationships patterns.
There’s a link below to snippets from the inteview that highlight part of the conversation Nolwazi and Sethu had – I love the intimacy present within the dialogue and I am sure you will too!!
They are the cutest thing ever!!