Pride month is a time of pure recognition and celebration of Queer communities who have made an enormous impact by historically and currently fighting to pave a way for safety, space, and respect within the world at large, but beyond that it is also time to celebrate Queer people for existing - and existing in a space that has been challenging, painful and dangerous.
This time is not only a moment for commemoration but serves as a reminder to society at large that Queer people deserve to be celebrated every day of the year - it is an expression of joy, sincerity, love, freedom and of course - pride. In South Africa, the societal culture is still conservative and not as safe as it presents itself constitutionally or politically for anyone who is Queer, however there have been people who have presented themselves as sincerely as possible within the country and by just doing that (and more), they've been able to create great change for anyone who can hear them or see them especially in the fields of art, fashion, music and lifestyle. For Pride month, Archive talked to four different "sneakerheads" people occupy and live within these fields.
Teboho Caddy Tsotetsi, Gcobisa Gee Yako, Lelo & Lethabo.
Teboho "Caddy" Tsotetsi
"My creative process would have to be…finding my inner happiness" - Teboho Caddy Tsotetsi
YFM radio host, an actor in Legacy SA, TV presenter, fashion consultant and YouTuber, Teboho Caddy Tsotetsi speaks about the importance of understanding the self to the extent of overcoming and limiting any distractions. For him, the concept of self is completely crucial in operating within the world. Caddy says that he believes in creating a culture in which anyone in the Queer community does not have to "come out". That they can just exist and if anyone would ask then they could explain it. As a sneakerhead, Caddy loves a classic crystal white Air Force 1s, would choose retro Jordan's over Yeezy's and the most I paid for sneakers was R17 000.
Gcobisa "Gee" Yako
"I have something to say and I don't have to be quiet about it." - Gcobisa Gee Yako
Gee has found their inspiration through community but also with their grandfather. Gee's grandfather has acted as a guide for them to meet with the mode of storytelling. The journey of creative inspiration has led Gee to a time where they are directing a Netflix feature film. In respect to queer people especially youth, Gee finds it to be a very personal experience / preference for on to make the decision to "come out". They also explain that they find it hard to find people in their industry that are open about themselves. They haven't found their community but have rather found themselves in a fluid experience with different kinds of people. For Gee they love low top sneakers and would effortlessly rock the Nike Gold Gianni's.
As the previous winner of a Feather Award for socialite of the year, Lelo has definitely had a presence. He is committed to organizing Vogue Nights Jozi events in a way that celebrates queer and femme pleasure in a ballroom setting. He would love to find himself travelling the world, shaking up spaces especially within Africa by curating events that would be safe spaces for the Queer communities. Lelo says if he could he would war a pair of Yeezy's for an entire year, he would. He doesn't buy sneakers for the sake of hype but because he genuinely likes them.
"I am proud of this moment and where I belong." - Lelo
"Creative expression and creative freedom is one of the ways I - as a Queer person navigates life." - Lethabo
Lethabo also known as Six believes in deconstructing for the purpose of reconstructing. In the scope of life, he feels that there are multiple ways to think and see things, and this abundance of perspectives is what drives his creative process. He believes that the internet is a great tool to find reliability and community in a time where South Africa is still not as accepting of Queer communities. He says that believing and trusting yourself is a key point in your life's journey. Six says his top 5 pairs of shoes it; Air Force 1's, Yeezy's, Adidas Continental, Adidas Superstars and Reebok Classics.