Selbeyonce award-winning moment confirms representation matters

OPINION

JOHANNESBURG - I was watching the DStv Mzansi Viewers Choice Awards for obvious reasons - being a local entertainment follower, the excitement of seeing a live event after a while because of COVID-19 restrictions, and also because I can be very competitive.

Yes, I know these awards have nothing to do with me, but my faves were up there being nominated. Their win is my win. I must say though that I ended up with egg on my face when some of my favourite stars didn’t walk away with any accolades.

But my mind delved into something far removed from the hype of the event and music performances when I saw Ukhozi FM Radio DJ Selby Mkhize known as ‘SELBEYONCE’, walk up the stage in his beautiful red gown to collect his Favourite Radio Personality award. I was filled with warmth and big emotions and thought what a powerful moment this was, not only because he had worked hard for that spectacle, but also about what that moment represented more broadly.

If that moment sat so powerfully in my heart as it certainly did, what of that young gay boy living in rural Kwa Zulu Natal who is afraid of who he is because of the taboos about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex LGBTQI Community that still exist today?

And so it dawned on me how important representation is. In a world where gay killings and abuse - or gender correction as some call it - still dominates the headlines, seeing someone like Selbeyonce receiving such a wonderful accolade sends a strong message to those who are in the dark about the LGBTQI community.

In January 2022, LGBT Rights Programme Director Graeme Reid wrote a letter to South Africa's Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development John Jeffery. Thee expressed concern about the number of LGBTQI individuals killed and violently assaulted over the past year. Reid noted that circumstances suggested their sexual orientation or identity was the reason that they were targeted. They requested information about what steps the members of the National Task Team on Gender and Sexual Orientation-based Violence Perpetrated against LGBTI Persons (NTT) were taking to address this scourge.

That letter continues to disturb me until this day, and even more so, it terrifies me. It also continues to echo the message of how much more representation we need in the media, on social media platforms, and more, to provide validation and support for vulnerable people in marginalised groups in society.

Cover image: Courtesy Selby Mkhize Instagram