An exploration of the experiences of gays and lesbians living in the Inanada area.
The study emerges against a global and local backdrop of longstanding oppression and stigmatization of gays and lesbians, due to their sexual orientation. Regardless of transformative policies in South Africa which declare equal acceptance, treatment and inclusion of gay and lesbian citizens, prejudice and unfair discrimination still exists. The study investigates the experiences of gays and lesbians living in the Inanda area of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa with the view to developing a greater understanding of their experiences and realities of ‘otherness’ and oppression. The conceptual model which frames the study is based on the generic model of social identity development and general model of oppression put forward by Hardiman and Jackson (1997), offering a useful lens through which to better identify oppression in the experiences and realities of gays and lesbians. The focus on understanding human experiences locates the study firmly within a qualitative research design. This focus also led to the selection of personal narratives as the strategy of inquiry, thereby allowing the researcher to enter worlds of experiences different from her own. Face- to- face, semi-structured interviews with eight participants (four gays and four lesbians, between the ages of twenty one and twenty five) comprised the method of data generation. The participants were selected as a result of a snowballing sample method. All live near each other in the Inanda area and are in regular social contact with each other. While research using a small sample of eight participants from the Inanda area cannot claim to be a comprehensive study into the experiences of gays and lesbians in all South African communities, these narratives reflect to a large degree, experiences of ‘otherness’ and oppression common to all gay and lesbian people.