Androgynous by definition is someone who is partly male and female in appearance; indeterminate sex. Androgynous people may have gender ambiguity in fashion, gender identity, sexual identity, or sexual lifestyle. According to the Urban Dictionary to be androgynous means “Having both male and female characteristics in appearance that it becomes a challenge for one to decipher what sex that person is”, so you can only imagine what a nightmare it must be for an androgynous person when made to feel like they cannot be identified.
Recently I met up with international androgynous model Theo Kesaobaka who shed some light on the topic. At first glances, Theo looked like an everyday Gabs guy with a pair of jeans, hoodie and sneakers, but once safely with me, Theo slipped the hoodie over his shoulders to reveal a tasteful yet suggestive, ripped shirt. We chatted while we walked to the Three Chiefs Monument park, and Theo opened up to me about the frightening day to day drama that he deals with, as he began to recall a story about being ganged up on by thugs in RailPark Mall, a middle aged woman pointed at him and made a barbed comment in Setswana. People point and stare, name and cat call (sarcastically) and in extreme cases, try to physically hurt Theo, and he simply takes it in his stride. He told me that it is sometimes very trying to be bigger than the people who discriminate against him and it takes a lot of will power not to retort peoples mean remarks. Theo says that there are certain places to avoid because the general misunderstanding of his appearance is met with great discrimination and brutal judgement by traditionalists.
Before the shoot, I asked Theo to prepare an outfit that he felt would encapsulate his true personality and thus to identify himself through fashion. He came through for me and went all out! Theo is a shoe and heel addict and brought a pair of warm booties with wooden platforms to warm up the grey day.
This wouldn’t be a heartfelt social awareness blog without me offering a solution to Theo’s day to day torment. People should mind their own business and attend the skeletons in their own closets before they offer their opinions on other people. The world is large enough for all of us to co-exist peacefully, and that means liberating yourself of any mindset that would inhibit someone else’s way of living freely.
Below are some of the photos from my shoot with Theo and his friend Thabo. Thabo is Theo’s masculine counterpart. We thought it would be lovely to capture two young Motswana men with different ways of self expression, united and proud.
Special thanks to the models Theo Kesaobaka and Thabo for bringing this short blog to life. Visit Theo’s Facebook page Kesaobaka Kay to follow his daily make up tutorials and rehearsal vlogs.
Thank you for reading this blog. Take care and stay blessed. Xx