The men who tied the knot in KwaZulu-Natal can’t understand the outrage they’ve caused
Attacked from all sides, the young couple who held a same-sex traditional wedding in KwaZulu-Natal could barely cope with the media storm they had generated when City Press met them for an interview at their home this week.
Just days earlier, the 27-year-olds had been celebrating – slaughtering a “gay bull”, hosting an underwear party and leading the dancing at their glitzy wedding reception with Brenda Fassie’s Don’t Follow Me, I’m Married.
They made world headlines and were embraced for their activism.
But by the time Tsepho “Cam” Modisane and Thoba Sithole returned to their modest shared home in the Joburg suburb of Buccleuch, they were the subject of outrage from traditional leaders and the Zulu king.
They were also being attacked by bitchy members of the gay community on Facebook.
Nevertheless, they told City Press that they were planning to start a family within the next few months – and revealed how Cam proposed to Thoba on the spur of the moment with an engagement ring crafted from a plastic Checkers bag.
They also cleared up gossip about how long they’ve been dating – less than a year, despite knowing each other for more than three – and revealed they now use the surname Sithole-Modisane.
The interview nearly didn’t happen, though. After a two-hour wait, the dreadlocked Thoba eventually arrived home, used the bathroom and then left the room without a greeting.
His husband, Cam, hurried outside to talk him round.
An exhausted Thoba later admitted that he had had enough for one day.
Royal Shock for Gays! and Gay Marriage Opposed were the leading stories in two of the morning’s papers.
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s spokesperson called the alliance “unholy” and KwaZulu-Natal’s traditional leaders were so outraged that they had called a special meeting to discuss the couple.
“Are we that important? We’re just living our lives,” said Cam.
“Basically, they’re against this whole thing of me wearing Zulu attire,” added Thoba, who was born in Stanger, where the wedding was held.
“Why can’t we do a cultural wedding? Why should I wear a suit? May gay people not also practise traditional norms?” The Tswana community had not attacked Cam, he said.
“I think certain people in our society think they’ve got a monopoly over culture, over tradition,” added Cam, saying they opted for the traditional part of the wedding as a way of bringing their families together.
They both insist the wedding was not a publicity stunt – that they never contacted the media, they just shared their plans on Facebook and on their blog (where they detailed the build-up to the event from meeting their in-laws to finding and slaughtering the “gay bull”).
Yet Cam – the activist in the relationship – was happy to use the media to get a message across.
“We want to show that you can be gay and black and African, and proud of your heritage – and also be supported by your family.
“Too many of our friends are in the closet. And anyway, there is so much bad news.
“Lesbians are being killed. We wanted to bring across a good news story about being gay.”
“Cam”, an auditor, and Thoba, a computer systems specialist, say they have received nothing but support at work.
They also encountered no opposition in Stanger, where they rode in a celebratory convoy through the streets.
“Around my hood, they’re okay with it,” says Thoba. “I’m not the only gay person from there.”
He held a quiet bachelor’s party, “hanging out with friends” in Durban, while Cam splashed out in a nightclub with an underwear dress code and strippers.
Facebook page Mogosi Wa Gauteng has made a meal of the wedding, digging up gossip about Cam’s past and generally lampooning the couple’s new-found celebrity status.
“Most gays have been nothing but supportive,” says Cam. “But of course there are bitchy types out there.”
Global coverage of the wedding was supportive, if a bit bizarre. Some media claimed this was the first gay marriage in Africa. Most assumed the couple lived a rural life.
E! Entertainment host Chelsea Handler put her foot in it when applauding the marriage, but questioning the couple’s plans to start a family.
“It’s a little stupid to have a surrogate in Africa,” she said.
“There’s like orphans growing on trees there.”
“It’s Thoba who keeps saying he wants a baby,” revealed Cam.
“We will definitely be making plans. We want to show that gay men can live a happy, family life and be committed to one another.”
This marriage has definitely made waves in social circles.
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