I went to watch Moffie a few nights ago. It’s a dance play based on the book by André Carl van der Merwe about the experiences of a young gay man conscripted into the South African army during the apartheid era. It was beautiful and powerfully moving. The dancing was spectacular (as far as I could tell with my limited knowledge of dancing, gleaned mostly from watching eight seasons of So You Think You Can Dance). I came home and immediately downloaded the book from Amazon. I’m about 20% into it, and it’s pretty heavy going, but the beatifully crafted writing does compensate somewhat for the emotionally draining subject matter.
It’s important for stories like these to be told, and I salute those who are brave enough to do it, because it reminds us that the suffering caused by the oppression of LGBT people is often invisible. As long as it is socially unacceptable to be different, those who can will hide their true nature, suffering this type of psychological torture in silence. Victims keep quiet, pretending to be other than what they are, while those around them tell them over and over and over again how sick and disgusting and wrong they are. And as long as no one is willing to step forward and admit that they are one of those “moffies” or “dykes” or “fruitcakes” etc., the perpetrators can pretend that there are no victims. And why would you step forward, when to do so would only serve to give them a specific target for their hate, and not help at all to put a stop to the abuse?
We must remember stories like these when the leaders of African and Middle Eastern countries proudly announce that there are no gay people in their countries. We should remember what is behind those types of words: millions of people being forced to deny their own oppression.