Johannesburg is in the midst of an artistic revolution, and the queer community has contributed hugely to its growth as well as its unique flavour. It's why American rapper Mykki Blanco went there, for an inside look at the new wave of queer activists making their mark on the city as part of a documentary created in collaboration with Vice.
"I think the best part of being a young South African is that there is our real sense of strength and power. We are a confident, unapologetic group that is ambitious, super woke and aware of our constitutional rights," the gender-bending musician Umlilo told Vice.
@i_d's Out of this World hosted by lovely @_mykki_ directed by @dielamb and produced by @stephenisaacwilson premieres in London today and will be out tomorrow! It explores the busting queer scene in Johannesburg and features some of the most inspiring born free artists of our country!! It's been such a trip being a part of telling this beautiful story with my fab faves!! .. . . . . #queer #music #film #documentary #southafrica #nonbinary #johannesburg #southafrica #instapic #drag #africa #musicvideo #visuals #instagay #insta #makeup #fashion #punk #art #style #punk #gayboy #gay #festival #genderqueer #hair #dragqueen #electro #lgbtiaqa #streetstyle #photography
"The city itself is rundown and going through gentrification, so there are mini cities all over that have become their own hubs of culture and entertainment. If you are rich, you most probably will live an amazing queer life, but if you are not, it's a bit of a challenge. I feel like Joburg is a lot more homophobic because of its Afrocentric male heteronormativity as a dominating force," said Umlilo.
"It has so many people who have come with their own prejudices from other parts of Africa, so it's not easy for queers to thrive day to day. At the same time, Joburg has a rich queer history that balances all negativity that might come from its current problems. People create their own safe spaces and are still not deterred by all of these challenges. The younger generation seems to be a lot more open-minded and gender fluid," he added.
Blanco said coming to South Africa was a revelation for them.
"I was in Africa for the first time," Blanco says of his trip to SA. "I am 31 years old, African American, and there I was... on the continent in which civilisation as we know it was born, the land which birthed my race, for the very first time."
The documentary is available online, watch it below.