Meisie Motaung holds multiple responsibilities and has scored numerous accomplishments. Among her roles, she serves as the LGBTQI+ coordinator at the South African National Aids Council (SANAC), collaborating closely with Show Me Your Number and Access Chapter Two.

By Noko Mashilo

Meisie Motaung has dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex. She remains determined to bring about positive change within the LGBTQI+ community despite the sneers and jeers from other members of society.

Meisie is pushing for the acceptance and recognition of individuals based on their inherent qualities and contributions. She seeks to foster a community environment that embraces all individuals identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex, free from discrimination and bias.

Following her disclosure of her sexual orientation as a lesbian, there were varying reactions from different individuals. While some expressed surprise, her friends were happy, and her family had been expecting this revelation. Her family demonstrated wholehearted acceptance of her identity. Before her disclosure, her family had observed her consistent companionship with women but had refrained from broaching the topic.

She asserts that education plays a crucial role in raising awareness within the community regarding issues related to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community. She also expresses satisfaction with South Africa’s status as the fifth country globally and the first in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage.

She stated that she records instances of human rights violations and health issues within the LGBTQI+ community, as they face numerous challenges such as stigma, discrimination, and limited access to resources and facilities.

“We face numerous challenges such as stigma, discrimination, and limited access to resources and facilities. Therefore, we conduct awareness through community dialogues,”  said the 51-year-old from Zebediela in Limpopo, now living in Mabopane, Gauteng.

Meisie told The Telegram that in numerous cases when people who are lesbians go to the police to report incidents of gender-based violence, they are often victimised.

“A police officer on duty will ask a silly question like, ‘How could your partner assault you as a woman?’.

“Some say, go home and sort out your issues, or get yourself a man. I wish we could find a police officer who is a member of the LGBTQI+ community to work at the police front desk. This will help put an end to the victimisation we are facing.”

She also provided an additional instance of a transgender individual who is at ease using a women’s restroom, while women are hesitant to enter the restroom due to their perception of the transgender person as a man, despite the individual being in the process of transitioning.

“I was pleased to see a hotel in Soshanguve that does not discriminate when it comes to its toilets.

“Their toilets are not gender-specific.”

She is adamant that many people do not understand LGBTQI+: “We are still called names like ‘isitabane’ or ‘moffie’.

“Names like these make members of the LGBTQI+ community uncomfortable. Sometimes, some parents do not accept their children when they come out. It is in such situations that Access Chapter Two comes in for counselling. It is not a one-night fix job.

“It takes baby steps to accept their kids,” said Meisie, who believes their support makes the process easier.

She also explained that it is commonplace to hear members from the faith sector asserting that God created Adam and Eve, while on the other side, members from the traditional sector always argue that our culture does not allow this.

“Now, please tell me how I can justify this as a member of the LGBTQI+ community.

“Do you remember the case of LGBTQI+ activist Sam Mbatha, who was raped and brutally murdered? Justice failed us.”

She emphasised the importance of recognising that certain circumstances are outside of an individual’s control: “I cannot wake up in the morning and say I am a lesbian. It is impossible. Some parents are ignorant or in denial. When your child is born, you can see the signs. Due to denial, one chooses not to see them. Mahlo a bona se a se ratago (Eyes see what they want to see). People should accept and acknowledge that we have LGBTQI+ people in our society.”

Meisie said she has always been a lesbian; “The signs were always there. I officially came out in 2001, and it was not a shock to my friends who were happy. My family has been expecting this to happen. They fully supported me, and as a result, I have been playing soccer and enjoying playing with toy cars. I have never played with dolls.”

When she is not busy with human rights advocacy work, she dabbles as a highly sought-after stadium announcer. She credits the start of her career in this field to being recruited by Matlhomola Morake, the communications manager of the South African Football Association, in 2009.

“My first game was South Africa Under 17 against Tanzania at Caledonian Stadium in Pretoria. Since that day, SAFA started using me.

“In 2011 I was the stadium announcer for all the African Women’s Championship games. Recently, I was the stadium announcer for COSAFA in South Africa, where I announced all ten televised matches.”

Meisie, known for her catchphrase “go diragalang, what is going on”, announced the Hollywoodbets game between Sundowns and TS Galaxy at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, Pretoria.

“On the day, I demonstrated my vibrant skills in interacting with spectators.”

As a multi-award-winning sports presenter at Soshanguve community radio, Meisie said her activist roles in the community have taught her that respect can elevate you, and perseverance is the key to success: “Coming out as a lesbian, I never thought I would be where I am today.”

She says that of all the experiences she has had in life, she will never forget the impact that Covid-19 had on the world.

“It has deprived me of many opportunities.” I couldn’t go to the studio as I wanted. I have been HIV positive for the past 19 years, so I must adhere to the rules and regulations set by the government.

“The worst part was when I lost members of the Jerusalem Encha O’Jays Choir in Soweto, where I sing soprano.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *