Written by Siliziwe Mapalala
Let’s talk about the seven deadly sins. Okay, one in particular. According to Roman Catholic theology, the seven deadly sins are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. These seven deadly or cardinal sins are considered to be what spurs us to commit other sins. Now, let me make it clear before I continue, I don’t believe in sin. I believe humans make choices – some of which are harmful to self and others, and some of which are helpful or healing. But let us proceed down this interesting train of thought.
Why is Pride in it? What exactly is wrong in pride? When you were a child and you achieved something special, our caregivers would say ‘I’m proud of you my child’. As we grow up and we achieve goals we have set for ourselves, or reach heights we could only dream of, do we not feel proud of ourselves? When you finally choose yourself over what people say you should choose, and you finally live your truth, is this not pride that you feel? So why on earth would it be considered a sin to feel the sense of joy and achievement that comes with accomplishment, honour and truth?
From what I gather, the word pride has been used interchangeably with conceit or hubris. These terms, conceit or hubris, lead to seeing oneself as above others, and this results in choices and actions that are selfish and inconsiderate. Pride, however, is a shared sensation which brings joy. Let me elaborate.
The Oxford dictionary provides two definitions for the word Pride, one being ‘consciousness of one’s own dignity’. In other words; one’s honour, self-esteem, self-respect or self-worth. When one has honour and self-respect, the drive is to ensure this for those around them as well. Pride does not drive selfishness, it brings about self-love, and hope for others that this is achievable.
During the Civil Rights Movement in the USA, there was a ‘Black Pride Movement’ which bucked against the oppression and devaluing of black lives. Its focus was not only black pride, with terms arising such as ‘Black is Beautiful’, but also black economic empowerment, and the creation of social systems to support its people (like feeding schemes and clinics). The movement, though the name may not suggest, was inclusive and encouraged allyship. There was also an aesthetic to the movement; beautiful afros and dawning leather – this is my kinda vibe!
Similarly, in South Africa in the 1970s we had the ‘Black Consciousness Movement’ (we associate this with Steve Biko) inspired by our fellow African countries who were being granted independence from their colonial oppressors, and believing in Black Power in response to apartheid rule.
It is all these years later, but we as queer people can identify with the above. We too have come together under one flag, choosing to push against the oppression and devaluing of queer lives, by choosing to say ‘we are queer and we are here’, and do so looking absolutely magnificent and standing out of the crowd – in bright rainbow colours, in ridiculous platform heels or nipples out, covered in peircings and tattoos, or dawned in leather, in gender bending attire or just jeans and a tshirt, all are welcome! We are proud, and Pride is beautiful, and not only that, Pride inspires change.
So, if it is the deadliest of sins, I choose to sin in every space I occupy. I will be loud and proud, and will embrace my queerness and wear it like a crown, not only for myself, but also for those who currently cannot. I will keep those who are not safe enough (physically or psychologically) to be out in my thoughts as I march, hoping that one day society can accept the beauty of queerness and the dignity of every human.
This month’s theme is ‘Whose Pride is it Anyway’, and we have Siphokazi Nombande as our cover star who is a key organiser of Soweto Pride. We talk about the joys of queerness, and the importance to create safe spaces for our lives, especially in townships where we come from. You will also find a piece written by the Purple Fly sharing his journey to finding pride, A. Wolf writes on men’s health (this will be a series so look out for more in the coming issues) and Katlego reviews Welcome Mandla Lishivha’s book ‘Boy on the Run’ – a must-read.
We may no longer be in October, but this does not mean Pride is over. We celebrate everyday, knowing that we cannot stop until the idea of us being a sin is eradicated, and it becomes safe for every queer person to live without fear. Happy November everyone!