As per the research done by Uniq Magazine SA on gay fathers, it was noted that the modern day father comes in various forms. Today’s father is no longer always the traditional married breadwinner and disciplinarian in the family. He can be single or married; externally employed or stay-at home; gay or straight; an adoptive or step-parent; and a more than capable caregiver to children facing physical or psychological challenges. Psychological research across families from all ethnic backgrounds suggests that a fathers’ affection and increased family involvement help promote children’s social and emotional development.
There are more and more gay men who are about serious and long term relationships; more than just fun and wanting to fit in the gay community. They are demonstrating a sense of being supportive and being in loving relationships, like heterosexual couples, they are beginning to start families. With the growing numbers of gay fathers in our society, research suggests that they are likely to divide the work involved in child care relatively evenly and that they are happy with their couple relationships. In fact, research findings suggest that gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive home environments for children. Research has found no evidence to support the following concerns with regard to foster care and adoption by gay fathers:
Homosexuality is perceived by society as mental illness. Extensive research over the last three decades shows that homosexuality is not a mental disorder; there is no reliable evidence that it impairs psychological functioning, although the discrimination and prejudice gay men face can often cause acute distress. Likewise, beliefs that gay men are not fit parents have no empirical foundation.
In celebration of Men’s Month, UniQ Magazine Editor Donsy Kunene had a unique chat with an outspoken, straight forward Project Coordinator of the Gay & Lesbian Centre in Durban, Sbongiseni Khumalo.
Who is Sbongiseni the Gay Dad?
Sbongiseni Khumalo is a single, legal guardian of a 7 year old from a Christian Family background. I am a father to my brother’s son since he was 4. I am staying with him fulltime which allows me to teach him the values of life.
How is it to be a gay male parent?
For me being a parent does not subscribe to any sexual orientation whether homosexual or heterosexual, man or a woman. It is all about life values such as being responsible, love, respect, education and offer trust to your child.
Did you sit down with your Son explaining your sexuality to him?
At the moment no, at his age I don’t believe it is important to have that discussion of sexuality. At the moment my focus is on raising him accordingly.
How do you balance your love life, work and pleasure?
I did not choose to be a parent to my son by mistake, my eyes were wide open and my soul was there fully. I handle my time very well. During the weekend is when I spend most of my time with my Son, playing and having fun with him while I am teaching him the basics of life that can guide him to his own future. I also use weekends to meet my friends and unwind after spending weekdays at work and afternoons helping my son with his homework.
How do you handle discrimination as a gay guy?
I am a grown man now I just ignore whatever insults come my, which has made people to accept me as I am. The educational information and knowledge I am sharing with community as the LGBTI Centre Project Coordinator, I have managed to change the mind-set of so many heterosexuals around me. Unlike when I was young, people would call me names because they saw me behaving differently to what they were familiar with; something weird and strange and not acceptable according to their standards.
We have different types of Gay individuals. Some like being fitted in boxes some don’t, how do you prefer to be addressed?
I am Sbongiseni Khumalo a man or gay man, there’s no need to brand myself according to my sexuality, neither by my appearance. I do not like boxes, I am not top/ bottom or feminine/masculine because in a relationship we are both men having feelings for each other and living our own lifestyle.
How long have you been with the Durban LGBTI Centre and what are your involvements?
I have been with the Centre for 8years as the Project Coordinator for the RTC Project which is part of the Peers Outreach Programme and I also do trainings and sensitisation to service providers on how to work with diverse communities.
If one is looking for the information on the LGBTI issues and matters how do they reach you?
I have media programmes that I do with various radio stations and newspapers, giving information and education about LGBTI. At the moment I have an ongoing slot with Inanda Fm where we embrace diversity and uniqueness. We discuss and give information on various topics on Humans Rights, Health issues, empowerment and challenges that affect LGBTI community.
Message to other Daddies
Communication is the key in terms of knowing your child, understanding each other so that the child can speak to you openly about anything.