Today marks the final day of Pride Month: June.
Celebrated by the LGBTQ+ community as a time to pay tribute to rainbow sexuality and the struggles it's taken to stand-up for people's right to live their sexual identities, no matter what they are.
To mark the occasion I've spent time zooming in on Lithapo's Zano (Angela Sithole) and Tselane (Kgaogelo Monama) to find out what their relationship means to me, them, us.
Do you know what all the letters mean?
I thought I did but discovered there's a letter I didn't know. The Q... I bet you think it stands for Queer?
It does BUT it also stands for Questioning.
It refers to those who are questioning their sexual identity or orientation.
I've realised that I'm a Q. I've always considered myself straight but am I? Why do I have more crushes on girls than I do on guys?
By being Q I allow myself to be undefined, open to possibility.
The "+" stands for other orientations and the fact that the initial letters can't be used for everyone's experience e.g. Intersex.
So which terms are offensive and which aren't?
It can feel like walking in a minefield because things are changing all the time too, so here's an explanation I found on the GLAAD website: Glossary
Tselane = L
Zano = ?
How would you describe her?
This is how Lithapo's creative producer Makgano Mamabolo describes her...
Makgano: Zano is... you know... I feel like there's something really interesting about millennials. They're quite gender fluid.
They're constantly like, you know, smashing the patriarchy and questioning the status quo so she was already somebody who... you wouldn't have been able to call Zano straight as it is. She was never straight to begin with, she was always gender non-conforming.
I caught up with Makgano in my Quest and she had juicy insider things to spill.
Like the fact that the show's writer's room is majority Queer:
What about actresses Angela Sithole and Kgaogelo Monama?
Makgano: Thishiwe Ziqubu was on the A-storyline, and she and her girlfriend are, I think, the most famous ... (I couldn't hear what she said here, ha).
The other storyliner was Nas Hoosen who comes from interestingly enough... he's a comic strip writer so he comes from that literary background.
He comes from illustration but he's a queer storyteller himself and I'm not in the closet by any stretch of the imagination.
Makgano: Both the girls are straight, which is interesting what they brought on. I think it's interesting to have somebody who operates from the outside so can be objective in telling that kind of story.
Interesting indeed I thought, so I asked both what it's been like for them?
Angela: You know, playing Zano is truly enlightening. My craft as a whole actually. It brings me so much sadness to hear stories about our fellow LGBTQ members being killed because of their choices of who they choose to love. I really wish we lived in a more tolerant society. #LoveIsFree
There's too little true love in the world. It's a pandemic!
Kgaogelo: Walking in Tselane's shoes has been rather interesting and an eye opener for me. But one thing I have always understood is that we are human before we are anything else. We are created out of Love and we exist as humans because of the love of God.
I am very excited to have been given an opportunity to spark up conversations in people's homes about LGBTI relationships because this is legit somebody's reality.
Tselane and Zano's relationship is basically a conversation starter. I am fond of how their story is being told because it is not based on the two girls being in a relationship and how difficult it is for them to be in a relationship purely based on their gender or how uncomfortable it can be for the community.
I actually love that the rest of the community in the story are living this relationship with them. Meaning their challenges are not about being together as girls - they have relationship challenges that any other type of relationship of lovers would have.
So that also gives the audience, especially the older generation who are usually not fond of the LGBTI community, a sense of comfortability around this loving couple.
It becomes about that, the two woman who love each other wholeheartedly.
I believe love has no Gender regulations - it is what it is. It's love.
That's the thing beloved reader... it even links up with this whole COVID situation.. I've been thinking that it's become such a physical symptom of how many people treat each other in the world generally.
Socially distant, suspicious of each other, hiding behind a mask - it all ties up with the notion of love - or the LACK thereof.
Makgano: Tselane and Zano are the only characters in this telenovela who actually have a genuine love. I say that because you've got Senzo and Pabi who are a transactional love, a blesser and a blessee.
We've got the unrequited love between Nolo and Pabi, we've got the ... I don't know what to call Senzo and Thandeka... I know there's a technical term but it's almost like a marriage of convenience but between Tselane and Zano, it's actually real love.
Which we wanted, as the writers, to impose that subliminally into the audience to say: "Look at how we all assume that we should have a problem with this kind of expression of love but in this cast of characters, these two characters are the only ones that are in it for the purity of what love actually is."
But we're so busy trying to protect unrequited love or transactional love or convenient love that we really need to question ourselves.
When you look at these two characters, you can't deny that that is the kind of love that you wish you had for yourself, so is it time to challenge yourself to want to have THAT for yourself?
For shiz. No matter what the two of them go through, that's their forever bond.
All You Need is Love. It might sound cheesy and idealistic but it isn't. It's the T.R.U.T.H.