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When will being queer not be queer?

Living free: Keletso says he allows himself to grow into his own identity
Personal identity is important and people must know and understand theirs, especially sexual identities.

People should know who they are and they should have the freedom to express their sexual preferences without shame or doubt.

Sexuality is a major part of identity and the decriminalisation of same-sex relations in 2019 played a major role in ensuring that members of the LGBTQI+ community are free in expressing their sexuality. It allowed them to be free in celebrating days like Valentine’s openly with their partners even though some Batswana never shy away from showing how strongly they are against homosexuality.

Keletso Lawrence Kelatlhegile explains that some of the challenges he faces as a homosexual man include discrimination and homophobia.

Families and society at large make it hard for homosexual men and women to get into relationships and freely express their feelings towards each other.  “A lot of homosexuals are afraid of rejection from society hence why they don’t usually come out,” he says.

“Homophobia affects us emotionally and psychologically.

“Some end up suffering from stress and depression because there are some members of the society who make it almost impossible for them to live their lives in peace.”

According to Keletso, even though homosexuality was decriminalised, the progress of acceptance is still very slow, especially in villages and even towns.

From his experience, Keletso says most

people residing in villages still think that homosexuality is a ‘Gabs thing’ while in fact, it is the real-life and lived experience of some members of the rural and village communities.

Most people still do not understand and do not want to educate themselves about issues affecting members of the LGBTQI+.

‘’Gaborone is so much better, even though there’s still homophobia but it’s much better compared to towns and villages.

“In Gabs we are slowly becoming the main characters plus there’s freedom and we can actually express ourselves how we want.”

 For Keletso, having homosexual friends has made it easier for him to open up about things that he goes through because they can relate. Another thing is that he makes sure that he is not hard on himself. He explains that he allows himself to grow and takes time to discover and fall in love with every one of his own flaws.

‘’What I can say to people who are hiding their true sexual identities is to take their time to discover themselves.

“Being in the closet doesn’t make you any less of who you’re. It’s not a race, it’s your life and your safety comes first.

“Ensure that you’re safe and ready before coming out.”

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