Outside is Freedom
Robertson, Hannah M. M.
Format Extent1 artwork
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Copyright Stellenbosch University
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Description of Artwork Tseko Simon Nkoli, generally known as Simon Nkoli, was born on 26 December 1959 in Soweto. Although, growing up, Nkoli excelled at academics and other aspects of school, he had a tough family life at home and battled with not fitting in or feeling ‘normal’. During apartheid in South Africa, laws prohibited same-sex couples from marrying or engaging in any sexual or romantic activities. As Nkoli, a black man under apartheid as well as a member of the LGBT community, was already struggling with oppression, these laws angered him greatly and he decided to dedicate his life to fighting for gay rights and being an anti-apartheid activist. Nkoli was one of the first black men to come out as gay and HIV positive during apartheid and continued to encourage his friends and fellow LGBT community members to be brave enough to do the same by telling them that staying inside the closet is “darkness and oppression. Outside is freedom.” Nkoli stated that he was privileged in the way his family responded to his coming out as gay. However, he experienced other people’s families shaming them, throwing their belongings out of the house and making them feel even more invisible than before. Although LGBT individuals as well as people of colour have equal rights to heterosexual and white-skinned people in South Africa today, Simon Nkoli remains an icon and a role model. He should be recognised for his bravery and dedication to a cause that he, and many others, struggled and fought for daily during apartheid.
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