*This expression is done in epochal movements.*
To define Gayle is to define me.
At the heart of Gayle is abuse.
I was abused since primary school. Teased, taunted, terrorised.
Exactly how do you process the word ‘moffie’ at such a young age.
A word soaked with combustibles like scorn and derision and contempt;
things taught to the young by parents and uncles and aunts and everybody else
they looked to for direction.
I could not help but burn in shame when attacked.
Attacks were constant. Attackers were persistent.
The blood of my blood could not hold me.
From 1991 to 1995, I became intimate with a particular brand of cruelty.
Strangers, young men looking the same as me,
dressed the same as me, yet not the same as me …
they had licence to call me moffie.
Teachers just quieted the noise that followed, their peace of mind more precious than my brittle self, quivering in hope that somebody would rush to my defense and denounce their sadism.
Life was unjust. Moreso when newly awakened to the truth.
I am gay. I am a moffie.
This truth did not set me free.
There was no liberation of the mind and soul.
There was only shame. There was no Senior Moffie
or “Moffie Ma” to hold my hand and tell me, “It’s going to be okay.”
I had a small gaggle of girls in my class as friends, and they were as uneducated as me about homosexuality.
My family was trapped in the elaborate artifice of being proud members of The Church of England (and the attendant narrow middle-class thinking it brings), heteronormative social garbage and other things that families just don’t speak about – never mind acknowledge.
They did their best, alas, the blood of my blood could not hold me.
I was too heavy a thought. I was a concept too frightening to shoulder.
Yes, this ugly truth “I am a moffie” was not the advent of some grand emancipation.
If we were to pretend for a brief instance that it did, then what?
What agency did a child like me have in the mid-90s?
At school and on the streets at home, none of the punctual insults and slurs I heard every afternoon after school could ever hurt as much as
I hated myself.
I tormented myself the best.
I believed I deserved all the abuse heaped on me.
I deserved all the unkind words. I deserved the tears.
The blood of my blood could not hold me.
i am 37
a stranger spits in my face
five steps away from the corner shop
the usual loafers and lurkers cheer
i am 37 and the blood of my blood cannot hold me
i just wanted cigarettes.
The reality of some bullshit
our lingua franca walks out the delivery room daily
her feet slip into fluid goddess grace
the sex is in the heel, children.
she adds that needed flourish in the last cha of the cha-cha-cha of survival
on mother city streets
avenues, well-lit runways
choked by disappointments and defeats
look at how we litter looking for love.
white man’s hands bruising me
in sleaze-lit alcoves and shrines sacred to deformed goblins of lust
lithe our facility for seduction
dancing naked on our tongues
writhe delirious this shared deviance
white cock and white credit cards
as they clap-clap-smack
balls to cheek
here’s one more clap
same time next week
this sweaty experience goes back on the shelf
brunch and friends waiting.
“Gayle meire, gayle! My hele lyf is ‘n oor!”
It’s common place to hear this screech across Cape Town. It reverberates best in Long Street. The camp discordance to your neat understanding of the world is courtesy of our homeless, addict sisters who vamp and ramp the surrounds, selling themselves and each other for whatever is needed that hour or day. Dirty feet, haven’t washed in days or possibly weeks, sickly, starving, and defiant. These harpies, our sisters, very few of us even bother to acknowledge … it is to them one must look to grasp the gist of Gayle.
When we gayle about Gayle, we need to speak about sorrow.
When I smack my lips and unfurl my waspish tongue in a glorious gossip gayle, I must not forget the bitter days and the stinging tears. For when we speak of our mother tongue, Gayle, we dare not forget the suffering attached to being a moffie. It is in the muck of being rejected, reviled, that yields the best effervescence, the top-class flourishes and embellishments and assorted bangles and baubles we’ve come to know as Gayle.
Gayle [proper noun]
– the lingua franca used by mavis in the Western Cape and in some heathen parts of South Africa, like Joburg.
– is much more than a list of women’s names
– applying basic grammar not only codifies (thus legitimises) Gayle, but also helps one to grasp the language faster. This uncomplicated concept eludes the majority of wenderelle mavis. A lazy tongue and unresolved racial-sexual issues are at the root of this.
Gayle oor Gayle?
Jirre Bonita, wa’ begin ‘n mens?
Gayle, sy is daai intervention kind innie klas wat juffrou gereeld toets.
“Here help vir Henna,” is juffrou se gebed elke oggend.
Some people come to the Lord with a heavy heart or in a blaze of glory.
For mavis, embracing Gayle is a process of measuring the right ingredients, circumstances or people, until the mavis mind awakens to the full import of what it means to inhabit their mother tongue.
Some processes are shorter than others.
Have you noticed how wenderelle mavis gayles Gayle? Liewe George, dis te eina. Dis vast ‘The cat sat on the mat’ , baie Foundation Phase. And it shouldn’t be. Wenderelle is standing in the way of wenderelle when it comes to her literacy. As a community we do what we can, but in all honesty, ’n Power Ranger kan ma net soeveel doen.
Mind you, there have been two instances in my slegmeit life that I had a come-to-Jesus moment when it came to gayling Gayle that needed to be gayled the mavis way. Twee wenderelles ek ken (ons is nou nie meer Sisters of the Travelling Pant nie) het gegayle soos wafferse Cloras. Meide, my bek was uit, seriously. It was a liberation I yearned for, constantly prayed for, and eventually the Lort (sic) said, “Deh moffie, hou vir jou bly.” Alas, we are no longer on gayling terms.
Ma die hele ding pla my as MEC vir Mavis Developement en soe antes. Hoeko’ sukkel wenderelle met Gayle? Hoeko’ is sy nog steeds by Foundation Phase? Wenderelle has usurped Afrikaans, so why not Gayle? In the pristine world of Wenderelle, I’ve noticed over the years that wendy mavis could happily indulge in Gayle’s camp frivolities, but if said mavis became too proficient at this guttersnipe gayle, caterwauling would ensue. See, to be adept at a foreign language, one needs to think in the foreign language. And that, dear reader, is too depraved a thought for wenderelle to bear any consideration. Where is the lie?
I came to Gayle a broken man. All I knew was misery – mine and the misery of others. I was a product of my time. I was a gay man at sea in his newly developed self. This at a time when information, transparency, justice and compassion was absent from human development in South Africa. True, the constitution made space for us, but did it hold us like the rest of Nuwe Azania’s citizens? Many would say, “Nandi Kapandi!”
We still had to fight in traditional, cultural, religious and legal arenas.
Ma ons het seke gemaak onse gladiator sandal het geblink, outjie.
As ons gaan appear, dan gaan ons appear!
The power of Gayle as a mother tongue is to be found in the collective, in the sense of belonging. Never mind moffies that side of the province of erens innie Noord-Kaap use slightly different vocabularies. It’s never been about the list of names. This has and will always escape wenderelle.
The sex is in the hell, children. Even when you’re wearing flats.
Done – Sys kla – Sys Clarence – Finished – Fiena se kind – Fienie Nimb
(IGNORE THESE STUKKIES)
My name is Sergio Henry Ben
I am of slave stock.
The blood that gave rise to my blood has roots all over.
In some instances I am mistaken for Asian, somewhere exotic and hot, where the people are agreeable and bow after every exclamation.
“Are you from here?”, the Dutchman asked as we took the stairs to the designated room for fucking.
“Yes, very much so,” I replied.
“You don’t look like the others,” he said.
In other moments, I am reduced to a goo, scraped out of my body and piped into a mold that suits whatever crazed fantasy is running through the mind to get him hard.
The brown contours of me, that is me, didn’t bother disputing his fantasy. There were four white lines to be had.
Grow my hair a certain length and I may very well look like a bartender in Tijuana.
“Hey, Sergio Mendes. Did your mom like Sergio Mendes?”, asked some other pale international bloke, smearing on the charm and smiles, eager to get me on my back and rut.
“I have no idea. I often wished she gave me a name others could properly spell. Even my teachers at school struggled. You’d be surprised how often teachers struggle to discern the difference between a j and a g,”
Look at me still trying to keep the conversation going.
Younger me was a twit.
Sergio Henry Ben
MEC for Mavis Development,
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