Sibabalwe Gcilitshana Is The First Openly Queer Woman To Compete In The Miss South Africa Pageant
A South African beauty queen is leading the way for queer representation in pageants.
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Sibabalwe Gcilitshana will compete in the Miss South Africa 2019 pageant later this summer. Miss South Africa host Bonang Matheba shared she will be the “very first queer woman” to compete during a ceremony announcing the top 16 finalists on Thursday, reports Mamba Online.
The 24-year-old wasn’t ashamed.
“I think that this is a very important moment,” said Gcilitshana. “And also I’m very happy to be able to share what I think is an important aspect of my identity as also as a proud South African woman.”
Gcilitshana hopes being out and proud will be a source of representation for other young queer women.
“I hope that I can use the platform to just empower other young women who see themselves represented in me,” she added. “I in no means intend to represent anyone else, I just have my experience and my truth to share.”
The fight for LGBTQ rights has been slowly progressing throughout the African continent. South Africa legalized same-sex marriage in 2006. Durban, South Africa, hosted its 9th Pride Parade on June 29, according to The Hawk Newspaper.
“In African societies, we are always told that gay people don’t exist,” Pride parade marshall Aeda Petse said. “When people see a long queue of gay people, some white, some black, whatever the case might be, [it proves] we exist within all communities of South Africa.”
Even though same-sex marriage is on the law books, the country still has a long way to go.
“We are getting ourselves to be on stage,” said activist and performer Aluta Humbane. “In South Africa, there aren’t many trans women or LGBTQIA people headlining the spotlight. Here, it’s all about us. it reaffirms the fact that we matter.”
Gcilitshana could help change the narrative for queer South Africans, and she’s aware of the gravity of this responsibility.
View this post on Instagram
Today is the bravest I have ever been in all of my life. I am not sure where it came from however I keep reflecting on the many women who have been brave in the past so that I could live unapologetically. I hope I have made them proud. I am excited to announce that I am one of your Top 16 finalists for #misssa2019 and I could not be more honoured. I am here to hold space for everyone, be visible and tell you that you are enough! You are it and you deserve to see yourself represented in all spaces! Ndim inkosazana, watsho uMama ✨ #misssa2019 #dreamwalker #sibaformisssa
“Today is the bravest I have ever been in all of my life,” she wrote on Instagram. “I am not sure where it came from however I keep reflecting on the many women who have been brave in the past so that I could live unapologetically. I hope I have made them proud.”
If she is crowned Miss South Africa 2019, Gcilitshana will have a chance to compete in the Miss Universe competition.
The Miss South Africa 2019 pageant is scheduled for August 9.