South Africa Student Testimonial
As a queer student, I naturally had fears about living in Africa. The news constantly reports murders due to homosexuality in Africa. However, I researched before I went and learned that South Africa is one of the first countries in the world to allow same-sex marriage and write anti-discrimination laws into their constitution. My fears were slightly eased, but I expected to have to “tone down my gayness”. Once I got to Africa, I found that Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University does not have an LGBT Resource Center or anything like it, and that Port Elizabeth as a whole only has one LGBT venue. Doing more extensive research, I found that Cape Town is considered the “gay capitol of Africa” and immediately planned my trip there. Feeling comfortable in my own identity, I was fine with coming out to my travel companions from SCSU and even many South Africans I met. I even had them accompany me to a couple LGBT venues in Cape Town, where I was rewarded with a map of all the LGBT resources in the city. These places were mostly very small offices that were closed the day I explored them, but they were there and located in a central district all within a few blocks of each other. I was informed that Cape Town Pride, normally in either late January or February, is a very large event with violence or hate being very rare. I was also given information that the city of Knysna, (3 hours from Port Elizabeth) has a small Pride festival in April called the Pink Lorie Festival. I made my plans to go there and took my roommate along with me. We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast and attended some Pride events. This festival was more for older LGBT people, while the Cape Town festivities focused more on a younger crowd. In Port Elizabeth I definitely felt like the most “out” gay person in the city, even though I did attend the LGBT venue frequently. This program does have its faults for LGBT students but it also has opportunities that are not always available on other programs. Make sure you know what you are getting into, don’t put yourself in danger if you travel outside of the areas I’ve described, and be proud wherever you go in the world!