An Open Letter To You

I do not want my aunt to die…

A few weeks ago, I went through my Twitter timeline and discovered that 50 people had been killed in a club in Orlando. There is a township here in this province that I’ve recently moved to with the same name, and because of the way my South African friends were tweeting about it, I frantically assumed that it must be the same place. I was instantly lurched into a panic because just the previous night, my aunt had told me that she was in town. And the only work that she ever travels here for is the LGBT organization that she’s devoted herself to. All kinds of crazy thoughts plagued my mind.

An hour later, still glued to my smartphone screen, I realize that 50 families in the USA have just had their biggest fear and worst nightmare come true. Heart sore and unable to stop my body from shivering under my warm blankets, it registers that it could have easily been my family; having to make sense of a hateful and brutal death of someone we love.

I do not want the woman who’s carried me on her back taken away from me by you…

She ‘came out’ to us when I was 24 years old, first to my mom. Then her husband and the rest of the family. She’d been keeping the secret since the year my mother was pregnant with me. Her text was desperate and a part of me sensed that there’d never be a turnaround for the decisions she felt ready to finally take. The same night I found out, a relative who’s a social worker student, sat me down and explained that my aunt became the way she is because of a ‘bad thing’ that happened when she was still a child.

Maybe if you got to listen to her talk about her favorite car…

To the world she is just a nameless lesbian but to me she is everything I’ve ever needed in someone who’s every part superwoman and every part home. One night when I cried during a home prayer service, she was the only one able to discern that my tears went deeper than being moved by the sermon. And when I hastily quit my job earlier this year to pursue a writing career, I knew I’d find in her, the safest place to offer me everything I needed to conquer all my anxieties.’


It breaks my heart that I have to constantly worry about her safety because you exist…

The reality of having the smile mine mimics when it expresses happiness taken away from me, is an inessential fear I have to live with because you give violence and homophobia a definition. I hope you know that when you ask me to pray for her conversion, I jump for protection instead. Isn’t that what she needs most in this vile world that can decide if she lives or dies because of who she chooses to love?

Photo by: Andile Phewa 




3 thoughts on “An Open Letter To You

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