Living in a world where you are always considered the “other” is a constant denial of your right to be alive and the right to express yourself as you wish. Being the “other” means that your every action is judged by stricter judges against stricter standards. Being lesbian in an unyielding culture means that you are expected to apologize should you catch yourself acting like everyone else, you should feel guilty for expecting to be treated like everyone else because you are “different” to everyone.
Lesbians are expected to act in a certain way, to have “lesbian manners”. We all know that having manners means fitting in a box that makes life more comfortable for everyone else but you. A mannered lesbian is an invisible lesbian who sacrifices her dignity and freedom so that others may live in their ideal world where gay and lesbian people do not exist. For example, a good lesbian is supposed to.
1. If need be, only ever come out to your friends and family once. It is unfair to keep reminding people that you are lesbian; you have already caused enough pain. (Even if they try to hook you up with a guy).
2. The neighbours don’t need to know about your lesbian tendencies. Besides, we could do without the shame
3. Try and avoid the androgynous or butch looks as much as possible. It is enough that we know that you are lesbian but do you have to rub it in our faces.
4. Just because you are a lesbian does not mean that you are now a man in this house. You will continue to clean after your elder brother because he is still a man and you will never be one.
5. As long as you live under our roof, you will not have lesbian friends. You are allowed to keep only heterosexual friends. Hopefully you will change your mind with the right influence.
6. Never bring your lesbian partner home to meet us. Surely you don’t expect us to act as if she is like your boyfriend/husband.
7. If you decide to get married, do not invite us to your “wedding”. We do not understand what a marriage between two women means or whether it is even possible.
8. Don’t bring home another woman’s child (your partner/wife’s child) and expect us to accept that child as our grand-child. There is simply no connection between us and that child.
The unsaid penalty is that misbehaviour or bad manners are punishable by death. A gang of township men will rape you, slit your throat or stone you to death. Your family will disown you and throw you out if your lesbian tendencies become intolerable. So, be a good lesbian and you might live to see a few more days.