Partying Johannesburg Style with OBie Mavuso

OBie Mavuso, artist and musician, is behind Johannesburg’s hottest dyke parties, and at the end of September, she launches the first of a series that centers masculine lesbians and those that love them, calling it Dykes Only Jozi.

Dykes Only Jozi (credit OBie Mavuso)

Her entertainment company, Blvck Queer, creates counter-culture events and experiences in South Africa. It also sells Pride gear and sex toys and produces film content and podcasts. Dykes Only Jozi intends to be a creative, safe, sexy space, especially for masculine-presenting lesbians. Lesbian parties, including Blvck Queer, create temporary spaces, but there are no lesbian bars in Johannesburg. Mavuso says, “The LGBT+ scene in South Africa for me is still very much conservative, and I would love to see a shift in the way the South African LGBT community supports black-owned companies.  I am creating my own community whether anybody hates it or not.”
Creating separate spaces is important to Mavuso, who sees these layered projects as part of resisting capitalism and corporate exploitation, “I think people can boycott capitalism and rely on themselves for survival – human capital is more powerful than what these corporates have led on.” Mavuso’s own music carries the same ethic.

In Mavuso’s experience, it is hard to present as a lesbian in conservative South Africa.

“It’s hard — I mean exhaustingly hard. Especially if you are in the public eye, like myself. Family fails to practice empathy with you, they almost always rub it in your face that you are that black sheep in the family. I see myself humiliated by the police, even when I need to report a case. Taxi drivers are heavily homophobic and misogynistic — it’s a lot. I also feel that as a masculine presenting woman I am often demonized because of how people think I am ‘strong’ enough to handle pain or societal rebuke. I see myself unable to find a community of healthy masc lesbians.”

However hard lesbian visibility is in Jozi, authenticity and autonomy are at the heart of Mavuso’s many projects, which paves the way for others.

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