Learning To Train Surf
By Kneo Mokgopa
What I’ve found most liberating, most frustrating and most interesting in discovering queer theory and politics is the idea of sexuality. So often it feels like my sexuality is a fast moving train I’m hanging off the hip of, trying to decide if I’m getting on or getting off. It’s also a thing that often gets answered for me so often. Maybe people know better, maybe there is wisdom in the walls of the corridors, maybe people are stupid and speak out of their asses.
I know so deeply how fluid sexuality is, and feel so profoundly fluid in my experience of my own, when present, sexuality. I often hear about gay people who just knew from a young age. That didn’t happen for me. I don’t know at all. And I can go to bed and make love to this not knowing and write something beautiful about it in the morning. But the times I do know, when someone or something stirs a desire so deep in me I would sell half of my soul to satisfy the pining, I often feel the obligation to be one, stable, certain sexuality so they can trust my desire for them. And this security I’m made to offer violently ripples through my gender performance because it has implications for them too. Desiring me can sometimes mean being ‘straight’. It can mean being lesbian. It can mean everything and nothing at all. I was with a transgender woman who told me I was more feminine than her, a threat on her gender performance, like if she’s going to be with me, what was the point of it all? It can mean defeating a transition.
For more, sexuality can feel like a love letter folded into a “paper plane flown in the pouring rain” as the poet Vusimuzi Phakathi would put it. People don’t want to go to bed and make love to not knowing. For some people, sexual identity is a fundamental aspect of their entire identity. People protest for their certain, sure as hell fixed, sexuality. People pay lawyers astounding sums of money to have constitutional courts confirm their sure as hell sexual identity.
And I love and admire them incredibly for it.
But my train keeps rumbling on, and rumbling on. Down from Johannesburg, through Kimberly, past the Cederberg, and I’m watching everybody joyfully jump off into their lovers’ arms as penal codes are struck down in Botswana and it makes me afraid. Not knowing where this train is made to lead me, if it’s meant to lead me at all. What if it welds the tracks flat and it crashes through the living room like Sitaara Stodel ‘s Recurring Dream? What if an arsonist sets it alight and it burns me into soot and smoke?, what if it crashes into the ocean in Muizenberg beach? What if, like a dream deferred, it explodes? What if it doesn’t?
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