Local news

Pride Month: Local organisation highlights the importance of awareness

Clients of a local organisation that offers medical care and assistance to members of the LGBTQ+ community share their perspectives about LGBTQ+ awareness.

THE annually celebrated LGBTQ Pride Month, often shortened to Pride Month, is observed in June and is dedicated to the celebration and commemoration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) pride.

Pride Month was inspired by the Stonewall riots, a series of gay liberation protests, which started on June 28, 1969. The first Pride marches started the following year, on June 28, 1970, to commemorate these riots, and these celebrations eventually evolved into a full month of LGBTQ pride.

To learn more about the issues affecting members of the LGBTQ+ community in Durban, Caxton Durban visited the Aurum Pop INN clinic on Florida Road.

The clinic offers health services to key populations, including HIV and TB prevention and treatment, as well as psychosocial support. The local clinic is a ‘key populations’ clinic. Key populations are populations that are at a higher risk of HIV infection – these include ‘men who have sex with men’ (MSM) and transgender women.

The clinic offers a range of helpful services, including HIV testing, same-day antiretroviral (ART) initiation, TB screening and treatment, STI screening and treatment, and also pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily medication taken by an HIV-negative person to help prevent them from becoming HIV-positive. There is also an in-house social worker offering psychosocial services, such as individual and couple’s counselling, as well as group sessions.

Also read: Kathy’s Window: 8 reasons not to marginalise LGBTQ+ people

Breaking the stigma

Caxton Durban spoke with a few clients of the clinic to discuss how the clinic has helped them and the challenges they face outside of the clinic’s doors.

“This organisation motivates a lot of people in the LGBTQ+ community and for us who are trans women. The other people who want to know what is going on and gain education should attend our events, just to learn more,” said Wandile Jade Mchunu.

Kashalia Seebaran said there should be better treatment of trans people in the medical field. “I am in the nursing field, and a lot of medical institutions, be they tertiary or primary, are very transphobic. They will treat you differently; they don’t take the same initiative as they would for other patients.”

“This organisation does make us feel like we won’t be judged, and we know that we can get proper, bias-free treatment here – it’s a safe space,” said Seebaran.

Nicky Zuke, Nikki Gamede and Andile Khwela. Photo: Nia Louw

Seebaran said he encourages people to be more understanding of members of the LGBTQ+ community. “In South Africa, the awareness is there. The government really tries to take steps to advocate for our equal rights, but the sad thing is that the people of our country are still hesitant to be as accepting. There are deep-rooted beliefs that cause a lot of non-acceptance towards the LGBTQ+ community.”

Lebohang Mkhize, Yonce Ndlovu, Kashalia Seebaran and Ayanda Mthiyane. Photo: Nia Louw

Also read: Durban author shares benefits of audiobooks

Muthande Mbongwa, Wandile Jade Mchunu and Kuhle Madondo. Photo: Nia Louw

Listening to understand

A staff member at the Aurum Pop INN clinic, Lexie Mkhize, said the key to understanding the LGBTQ+ community better is to be willing to listen and learn.

“I think for people who want to become allies to our community, listen to understand – don’t listen to just hear. People need to unlearn certain things they have been taught and try to learn more about our community. People who engage with us and try to understand our point of view help us,” said Mkhize.

Wandile Jade Mchunu encouraged young LGBTQ+ people to believe in themselves. “I do believe there are certain things we can’t change, and my advice to any young members of the LGBTQ+ community is to focus on building and uplifting yourself. If you do this, you can impact other people by living in your truth – use yourself as a form of awareness by being authentically you.”

Lay counsellor at the clinic Sade Mkhize said the clinic helps people with more than just medical care. “We call Aurum a safe haven for members of the LGBTQ+ community because we don’t only help them with medical care but our clients feel like they can be themselves here.”

“We need to educate others to be open-minded that people are not all the same. Education is important, and teaching people ways to be more sensitive to [LGBTQ+] people can go a long way. When we do a lot of outreach, we accommodate everyone who comes to us. Some people don’t know about the groups within the LGBTQ+ community, and we try to teach and educate them,” said Mkhize.

The centre, which is located at 295 Florida Road, offers free services to the community. Visit the centre from Monday to Saturday from 08:00 to 16:30. For more information, call 079 305 2551.


For more from the Highway Mail, follow us on Facebook X and Instagram. You can also check out our videos on our YouTube channel or follow us on TikTok.

Related Articles

Back to top button