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Balancing Act South African gay and lesbian youth speak out: Joanne Bloch and Karen Martin.

In this book twenty-one young South Africans from a wide range of social backgrounds speak candidly about their experiences, hopes and dreams. The book explores the lives of gay and lesbian youth in this country in a manner that challenges stereotypes and prejudices, and provides much needed information to young gay and lesbian people. Specifically written to be used in schools, the book contains insightful and useful teaching notes relating to the learning area of Life Orientation.

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The book not only focuses on the difficulties faced, butalsothepositive options and strategies adopted by well-adjusted young people. This provides roles models that readers can relate to as they begin to make their own life choices. It is hoped that the book and accompanying traveling exhibition will play an important role in an on-going process of human rights-based sexuality education for young South Africans.

The book is currently being translated into Xhosa and Afrikaans.

New Africa Books, Cape Town, 2005

Nunu's story

"The feeling I had when I found out I was positive was like, 'Oh my God! I'm facing a life sentence, I'm going to die. But I'm still young. I want to become something. Now I don't have a future.' And I was thinking all the time: 'Why is this thing happening to me? Why? Why?'

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I've started speaking in public. I always tell them, during my talk, that I am a lesbian with HIV. I want people to understand me, not only that I'm living with HIV. But people don't want to understand. I don't want to be a man; I don't like to be a man at all. I am a woman for women, and I'm proud to be a woman. People are raping lesbians because they want to fix us. But that won't change the fact that I'm a lesbian. The solution is to talk about it.

I look at myself in the mirror and say, 'I'm a beautiful young woman, I can't give up at this stage.' I make sure I'm always happy, each and every day. If something brings me down, I challenge it. And I thank my community. I thank people who are around me for supporting me. I know I'll survive with their help. And also with my own help. I've done so much for myself, to accept myself and forgive myself."

Mathabatha's story

"At first when you discover this, you think, 'Why am I feeling like this?' You want to be seen as a beautiful girl, not as a beautiful boy. But you wonder why, because you're a boy. And then you start putting on this mask and trying to pretend to be a boy, and you can only relax when you are in the house.

From a very early stage, people can see if you're gay. I was labeled. I was called names, like 'stabane', which is a very bad thing to say, because it means you've got two sex organs. Or they would call me 'stewzana', which also means gay, but is a very bad name because it means someone who is mixed up, like a stew. That made me not like being on the street. That's why I'm very good in cooking and cleaning, because I would sit at home and watch my mother, and help her.

But when I came out of the closet, people accepted me. Boys loved to play with me. Everyone wanted to be around me. In high school, I made lots of friends because people knew I was gay. They loved me. The only teacher who gave me a problem was my woodwork and PT teacher.

People know me in Alex. You go to the first road and you ask, 'Where is Mathabatha?' They will take you to my house. People from Alexandra are very proud of me. I was the first one from Alexandra to have participated in Miss Gay Soweto."

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Publication:Sister Namibia
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2005
Words:653
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