And this is Zintle.
Zintle who is 25, who is cisgender, who is a woman, who is a lesbian, no specific order, no bad time to shine.
Zintle grew up to be a leader.
When her father died, she took care of her younger siblings and helped her mother with the daily chores of the household.
When she was in school, she was involved in plenty of groups and associations: sports team as a captain, school life as a prefect, bible study as an assistant.
As shown by the latter, Zintle did receive a religious education, within a Seventh-day adventist institution. Church and school were one. And in such complete and homogenous environment, the smallest deviation called for correction, not to say oppression.
So when she was forced to wear a skirt, since girls should wear skirts; when she was compelled to hide her girlfriend, since girls should not date publicly, even less other girls, Zintle felt oppressed.
And from such childhood and education, Zintle grew out to be her own leader.
She has not been to church for 7 years. She has not worn a skirt for 7 years.
And if you ask her why, she will merely answer that she feels more like herself that way.
Zintle identifies as a butch lesbian, masculine-looking woman.
Places like churches that force women to wear a skirt prove how restrictive and imprisoning their vision of femininity is. Zintle is not less of a woman. She just doesn’t like skirts.
Zintle identifies as a member of the LGBTI community. Places like churches provide a special place for judgment toward its queer members. Dehumanizing them. Zintle is not less of a human. She just likes women.
Zintle identifies as neat. She says cleanliness is next to godliness. That’s her utmost value. She still does her prayers, she still believes in God. Zintle is not less of a christian. She just doesn’t like church.
7 years ago, and it’s a holy number, Zintle knew she had to make a choice. She had to choose between two communities. Between the church community where so many of her friends belonged, the community she grew up in; and the LGBTI community, in which she could feel comfortable and accepted.
The first community feeds a constant judgment toward specific kinds of sinners, while we are all sinners. Its members are afraid of what they are not familiar with, ending up opting for rejection. Its male members feel authorised to judge and rectify any female member they find inadequate, out of place. Needless to say that this is patriarchy.
The second community is a giant congregation of outcasts. Of people who bend under the weight of taboos, phobias, dogmas and traditions. Of people who struggle to raise up, to raise up united. Of people who long to be members, of one community, who call for the strength of leaders to give them clarity.
Zintle is one of them. She is an activist. And since she came out, she came up on that stage. She is vocal and loud. Committed and proud. To one community, the one that grooms her. The one that makes her feel like she has a purpose, a mission to fulfill.
Zintle is involved in politics. This is where she believes actions benefiting to the recognition and betterment of LGBTI rights should be taken.
To a certain extent, Zintle is forgiving. In South Africa, religious communities also need to address specific issues into politics. They may have a hard time doing so. And it does not necessarily come in contradiction with other claims and demands. Those of other actors.
So why wouldn’t queers and churches work together ?
They sure would and they will. This is what Zintle says. That’s why she’s a leader.
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