RAZZ Pride Icons: Simon Tseko Nkoli

“I am Black and I am gay. I cannot separate the two parts of me into secondary and primary struggles. In South Africa I am oppressed as a black person. And I am oppressed because I am gay. So when I fight for my freedom, I must fight for both oppression. All intolerance. All injustice.” (Nkoli)

Born in 1957, Simon Tseko Nkoli was an inspirational anti-apartheid, gay rights, and AIDS activist in South Africa. He came out as gay at 18 and got involved in anti-apartheid activism at a very young age, becoming the Transvaal regional secretary for the Congress of South African Students. In 1985, he was tried for “treason” and went to jail for four years. This period of time fuelled his intersectional politics as, though he was also a member of the Gay Association of South Africa (GASA), the largely white organisation refused to support him. Upon his release, therefore, he founded the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of Witwatersrand (GLOW), which organised Africa’s first Gay and Lesbian Pride March in 1990.

During his time in prison he was also diagnosed with HIV and went on to be one of the first openly HIV-positive African gay men, starting the Positive African Men support group in Johannesburg. His political goals were varied and brilliantly successful, having fought for LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination laws which were adopted into the Bill of Rights in 1996, and for the repeal of the sodomy law, which happened just before he died of AIDS in 1998. His life and political career is filled with struggle but he also took groundbreaking strides, establishing  him as a unique and important Pride icon who deserves to be remembered.

Read More – 14 things you should know about Simon Nkoli https://www.mambaonline.com/2018/11/29/14-things-you-should-know-about-simon-nkoli/ (Quote Source)

Queers Against Apartheird: From South Africa to Israel https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/queers-against-apartheid-from-south-africa-to-israel (Featured Image Source)

Sophie Chapman

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