Cool Queers: Lethabo Mailula, South Africa’s Queer Underground Blogger and Academic Badass

PHOTO: Noni Poni

PHOTO: Noni Poni

This article originally ran in the printed edition of WUSSY vol.04.
You can still order your copy
here.

Lethabo Mailula, sometimes known as Litha, is a South African writer, activist and teacher of gender studies currently living and penning up a fury of femme magick in the metropolitan of Tshwane. Her blog, The Weaving Room, muses on subjects ranging from the heteropatriarchy, violence, “corrective rape” and other intensities regarding civil rights with a queer and feminist focus. Educational and yet poetic, her words carry weight and wisdom while leaving the reader appreciative of the art in Litha’s particular way of writing.

Sometimes informed by her academic studies, her work is more often than not a result of personal and collective experiences:  “My research is on the symbolic and material erasures of queer blackwomxn in South Africa, investigating particularly the genocide and ostracization of black lesbians in South Africa. This looks at the positionality of Queer blackwomxn and their lack of access to society as full citizens as a result of their social location.”

I pray for representation that will hopefully translate to safety for queer blackwomxn who are hypervisible and exposed to violence in public space.

Despite the seriousness of the subject matter she deeply delves into, Mailula finds motivation and empowerment in everything she can around her:  nature, creative spark, daily ritual, her own embodiment.

“I had to find a way to leave my head without interacting with people and worrying about my quirkiness. I’ve always been ‘alternatively’ beautiful and strangely stylish. Writing became a way to fall in love with myself and to acknowledge my sexuality in terms of my desire and pleasure,” she muses. “A book formed my identity and I lived in stories that coloured the dullness of everyday life. I’d look at a raindrop on a leaf and mouth words to describe it, to augment to reality and make it dance with words.”

There’s no shortness of what keeps her inspired, whether it be compulsively reading others’ work (while enjoying Chai lattes and milkshakes) or visiting the ocean to cleanse and reflect. Writing short stories and working on a novel while pursuing her Masters in Law in Jurisprudence requires a degree of anchor and focus, but also an artillery of joy. Balance in the face of bravery, self-care to stay resilient. Looking ahead, Litha hopes for a better world especially for queer youth:  “I hope they watch TV and encounter black lesbian Womxn, I pray for representation that will hopefully translate to safety for queer blackwomxn who are hypervisible and exposed to violence in public space. I pray that queerness can cease to be the vulnerability that attracts danger but the magic of existence.”

Follow her on
Twitter @itslithaafter9
IG @mamas_machine_gun