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Lumko Johnson’s Brave Story

I grew up East London with a single mom and later moved to Johannesburg. Fortunately, my family was quite progressive, and I never felt ostracised by them about my sexuality. I was known as the nephew who played with dolls, and that was ok.

When I got to school, I was made to feel that it was not ok. I was discriminated against because I wanted to play with the girls, Tea sets and flowers, not soccer like the other boys. It became apparent why I was different when I was a teenager feeling attracted to other boys. Fortunately, I didn’t let the discrimination get to me as I had a good understanding of myself, was a high achiever and quite arrogant.

I came out to myself in Matric after falling in love with my friend, but he didn’t reciprocate my feelings.  I then went to Wits, where I obtained my Honours in Drama and Film.

I officially came out via text to my mother after my 21st birthday, when she asked why all my friends at the party were gay. I had also been posting photos on social media of myself and a guy I was seeing. She asked me to come to her office the next day, and all the time I was worried that I would be pulled out of school and be in trouble.  I explained to her that I had felt this way all my life and was now acting on it. After that, we prayed together.

Today I am an actor and producer. I have found it difficult to get roles because of my sexuality and must prove myself – particularly prove that I can play a heterosexual. I have been told to change my hair and what I post on social media but refuse because that would be like climbing back into the closet, for me.

My personal ambitions are to be happy and have creative freedom. My big dream is to create an LGBTIQ platform so that people from the community don’t have to worry about not getting cast because of who they are, and so that I can tell people’s stories. I am also involved in national dialogues around LGBTIQ issues.

My advice to young LGBTIQ community members is to love and understand yourself, as that makes it more difficult for others to impose their ideas about who you are onto you. I also suggest focusing on your education as this gives you the power to access work and enable people to see you as a professional first before they look at your sexuality.

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