Written by Georgie Calverley

The second part of my story starts with me enrolling to high school. Introverted and shy, I was the target of boys eager to prove their masculinity, while the rest enjoyed my public humiliation. Everyone had to know I was gay, the moffie who kissed boys. My time at high school was not the best, but I made the most of whatever fell onto my path.

My growth hormones kicked into gear, and I became a teenager. Taller, hairy and my soft voice on the verge of breaking, some suitors stopped bugging me. Emotionally and mentally subdued into thinking and behaving like a girl in their presence, puberty not only changed the one-sided friendship dynamics but placed obstacles in my path, as I tried to find my space in society.

The bullying and social isolation continued throughout high school, so I found ways to remain relevant and sane. When not studying or reading my textbooks, I ran and walked miles to escape my bullies and regroup. My family and friends stayed silent about my unmanly mannerisms.

Depending on the circumstances, I became good at being David and George, and at almost 14, I settled onto my sexual cushion. Accepting my path in life, I would fight at every corner to be included or tolerated by those who would never walk in my shoes. My struggles were far from over, and a different cycle of issues was raised as I raced towards young adulthood.

In 1985, I finished high school under the State of Emergency as marginalized students, political parties and other groups fought against the then racist white government. Having spent most of our final high school year at home, I passed with distinction and got accepted as a student nurse. It meant four years of work and studying, but internal demons were waiting to unsettle my social, mental and psychological well-being.

Frere Hospital became my second home as I navigated corridors and made new friends, amid a set of rigid rules and expected professional behaviour. After two years, the wheels fell off, and I became a nightmare student. Refusing to reason or take advice, I fought all measures to handle my destructive antics and the invisible demons driving me to dance to my drums.

After five years, they kicked me out with a lesser qualification. I felt lost but found strength in religion, only to fall off the bandwagon within a year. Given a second chance at nursing, I took it, and despite making the same mistakes, I got my professional nurse certificate. There was an unexplained blanket of sadness and depression, yet everybody expected me to be relieved and happy.

Putting on a brave face, I seemed ready to face the world but found myself in a social, personal and emotional self-abuse cycle. Battered by rules, expectations and aggression towards people of different sexual orientations, I merrily let society box me into submission as I hopped pillars and posts in the fight to find and be me.

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