Kgosi Modisane
2 minute read
27 Feb 2017
11:43 am

‘Moonlight’ tells my story of growing up gay in the East Rand townships

Kgosi Modisane

This Oscar-winning film about a black gay boy growing up in the urban ghettos resonates beyond American borders.

Screenshot from the official trailer of 'Moonlight'. PHOTO: YouTube.

The movie Moonlight, which received universal acclaim on its release, evoked memories of my own upbringing and childhood.

Besides being rated one of the best films of 2016, critics praised the acting, direction, screenplay, cinematography, subject matter and score of this voyage into the unknown.

Moonlight eventually scooped major credit at the 74th Golden Globe Awards, winning the prize for Best Motion Picture – Drama.

It is the personal story of a journey to self-discovery and acceptance of a young, gay black man living in the urban ghettos of America.

The beautifully written screenplay managed five nominations at the Golden Globes and eight Oscar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Starring an all-black cast which includes former track and field sprinter Trevante Rhodes as the lead character, Chiron, who gets compassion from Kevin, played as an adult by Andre Holland.

The role of Chiron’s mother is played by Naomie Harris and singer/actress Janelle Monáe is cast as the guardian married to a drug-dealing husband, played by Mahershala Ali.

From the opening scene of the movie, I was taken back to a time when I was a little boy growing up in the East Rand townships with a secret which I couldn’t share with anyone.

Every day I would have to wake up to being ridiculed and mocked by other kids at school or back in my neighbourhood.

I spent most of my childhood trapped indoors watching TV instead of running around in the street like the other boys and when I did decide to make an appearance, it was never to kick a ball into a net.

No, it was to either play hopscotch or plait hair with the girls.

There is no name I wasn’t called as a child and yet in my teens things started to change.

I became more comfortable with who and what I was; I stood up not only for myself but other little boys who were also different.

Torn between myself and my societal values, I dated a girl even though it was a guy I really wanted. My days in varsity were filled with lots of discovery as it was then that I eventually made peace with what had been my secret and started living my truth.

I had a boyfriend and a girlfriend but later neither were fulfilling so I chose to work on myself and my career.

Today, not only am I happy to be so far in my career, but I am proud to be a gay man. Looking at it now, had I seen a movie like Moonlight growing up, I would have realised that I was not alone.

This article appeared in the Friday, February 10, 2017, issue of The Citizen.