My existence embodies all that is taboo, I thought. My tanned skin, provocative shorts, the exuberant queerness which resonated as I accentuated the vowels with my plump ethnic lips. (And sass, mind you). I was young, naïve, and gay. It turns out that apparently everybody around me knew that I was a “moffie” before I did.

One. Two. Buckle my shoe.
Pink is for girls. Blue for you.
Identify crisis?
That’s just a taboo.
How can you be gay if you’re only two?

The story begins in 1994, the year that I was born. Ironically, this was a monumental year in South Africa. Our transitional democracy had finally unchained itself from the shackles of white oppression. A proclamation that few could refute. I vaguely remember my grandfather reiterating and pointing out to Strand Beach. “You see my boy…” He would declare. “When I was your age I was not allowed to swim on those shores.” At the time, I was unaware of my country’s’ composite history and the multi-faceted cultures that were associated with it. My adolescence granted me protection from this world’s tyrannical antiquity at the time. But my body was plagued – a pestilence that everyone around me was trying to quarantine, but could not kill.

The word “moffie” carries connotation, one which often denotes negative prejudice. “Don’t stand like a moffie!” My grandmother would proclaim this as she hit my hand with the sjambok. I was reprimanded for this numerous times. There was something about my hand gesticulations that gave my family the impression I was gay. They were not wrong. The classic “Do you have a girlfriend?” question would always make its grandiose appearance at family gatherings. I would respond by smirking. A sinful expressionless sneer, often in silence. Massacring them in my mind for asking me such shit.

I liked the attention though.

“Can I ask you something?”

I could not help but squirm when being approached by abject foolery to be “asked something”. Often it would ensue with “Are you gay?” – followed by “No offense, I’m not gay or anything, merely asking”. It was the story of my life and I was only thirteen. Only once I had undergone my sexual metamorphosis, did I realise that my hesitancy to say “yes” was as disconcerting as the questions that were often probed to me. As a liberated queer body today, I am complacent when being asked to unpack notions pertaining to queer identity. Something I admit I was afraid to answer for back then.

The world denied my sexual autonomy. My family exaggerated my body. I started to deny myself. My deliverance – the only saving grace.

“How did you know you were gay?”

Well for starters, I was conceived out of wedlock. Maybe it was because I didn’t live with my father. Oh wait, I know! It’s my high-pitched shrill which echoes “I like penis” whenever I talk. My father was a conservative cisgender man with a Godly plan. I was the anti-Christ, rattling God’s plan with my glittery agenda. My grandmother was a peculiar heterosexual. I would religiously compare my gay propensities to her gambling addiction. It worked. I would use the same rhetoric with the father. See, to my understanding, what I was doing was wrong in the eyes of God. Oddly, I’m sure God’s eyes would prefer watching two fledgling homosexuals act out their intimacy, as opposed to watching my grandmother venerate Egyptian slot machines with pagan symbolism. How about a pastor committing adultery? Well, God was watching all of this in my family. “I must be a product of sin”, I thought. “Born to a family of sinners”. Not that I cared. I was gay and impartial. A young queer boy really is a confused one. More confusing though, was trying to reason with God and granny. It was getting me nowhere.

Wait a second, how could this be?
Guess the apple didn’t fall far from the ancestral tree.
Deviated from the prowl, I hope my core is not too damaged.
Or perhaps this is the consequence…
For being born in your image.

Acceptance is something every incandescent soul yearns for. I was yearning for him.

I fondly reminiscence about the days in my youth – being disrespected by virile men. This disrespect would follow me like a silhouette, reminding me of what I am. I felt uncomfortable. I felt enticed. Often these boys would project their homosexual tendencies onto me. They would proclaim my “faggotry” whilst groping my arse. “Do you like that, huh?” I did. There was something about being violated and seduced simultaneously that imparted a great deal of agency onto me. I would put this theory into practice later on in my life. After leaving the spaces they once infiltrated, I would deliberately involve myself in their space. “Remember in school when you touched my bum?” I would remind them of their devious ways. I would grant them the opportunity to violate me behind closed doors. I wanted them to touch me without laughing or mocking me. There was no audience this time. Only actors. Only us. My pleasure. His penance.

And as he walked out of my room, silent this time, I was so tempted to remind him that he too, was born in my image.

Gangsters of the Cape.
Are you afraid? Intimidated by us?
You utter the word “moffie” so unashamedly,
As if you could spell the very same word speak of so often.
I pity you all.
This relentless denial you harbour deep down in your conscious.
Again I ask: Are you afraid?
Afraid of being touched by me like you were touched when you were forced to lay hopeless,
Helpless with tens of hundreds of men in a prison cell.
Do I remind you of what you were?
Are you afraid?
Afraid of the moffie.

And there was silence in the room. A pin could drop. My body spoke before my mouth could articulate. Today, I remind my family about the days they spoke my queerness into existence. The way the word “moffie” would rolled from the tip of their tongue, into the heart my soul. How their unfamiliarity, spurred my self-discovery. Today I am revered. Today they know better.

Forever marvelled by the moffie.