A lesbian's lament

My heart is broken. I have lost an old friend. From now on, life will be something less. Sade's song laments in the background: "I'm the king of sorrow, oooo".

I am approaching 46. It is 2012. Sade Adu had her big hit, 'The Sweetest Taboo' in 1985. I was a 19 year old Rhodes University student, struggling my way through issues of sexuality and race. Boys dated me because they thought I was a lesbian, I dated boys because I was trying not to be one. And so, I brought a boy home for the holidays to prove my heterosexuality. One problem though – I'd grown up in a conservative white Afrikaans neighbourhood, and he wasn't exactly white. Nothing bad happened. Angels were looking out for us. I think he understood the danger. I know I did not.

South Africa under apartheid brought about strange and ridiculous dilemmas. During the day my parents would go out to work, whilst he and I spent the day in bed. I feel guilty about those days. A lesbian in denial might seem sexy at 19, but mostly it's just frustrating for both parties.

I was oblivious to the very real danger I'd put him in. It's a testimony to youth's innocence to flout a system that simply doesn't make common sense.

Young people remind us that love is more important.

At the time my parents assumed I was trying to rock the racial boat. I was trying to rock the boat all right, but not in the way they imagined. But, I was a lesbian, the boat didn't rock – and that, was that.

"... the king of sorroooow ..."

Sade Adu, however, does rock. Her father Nigerian, her mother British – I think she's the sexiest woman alive.

Goodbye my old friend, I will miss you very, very, much.

kat berg