Slice of Life: Red lipstick was the key

At school, I liked using pink for writing and stuff. 

But I also liked wearing blue. It was kind of confusing. Discovering these things about myself and accepting myself for them was very important for me.

I was about 13 years old when I would wear nail polish to school. Other kids were, like, “what the fuck — what is this?” They bounced me for a bit, saying  “you need to see a shrink” and stuff like that.

It was a struggle and a very exhausting process. 

At some point I thought,  “maybe I do need to go to a shrink”. Later I thought, “no, this is the way I am”. But it took me years.

The first time I wore lipstick was at a Gay Pride in Johannesburg. On my way to that Pride — my first ever — I bought this gorgeous red lipstick. I tried it on in the shop and immediately it was like there was some kind of click inside me. I was, like, “yes!” I kept that red lipstick until I got back here to Maputo.

One night, there was some party here and I told my friends I’m going to wear my lipstick. That was 2010 and Mozambique was really not queer-friendly then, so they were, like, “no, you can’t”. But I did it. I put on that red lipstick, looked at myself in the mirror and said:  “Fuck this shit; this is me.”

And you know, I felt so empowered. People were looking at me, like, “oh my God, he is wearing lipstick”. But I thought, “no, I want this”.

I did it because I listened to my heart. That was the moment I really, truly came to accept myself. — Frank Lileza, as told to Carl Collison, the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian

Carl Collison
Carl Collison

Carl Collison is the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian. He has contributed to a range of local and international publications, covering social justice issues as well as art and is committed to defending and advancing the human rights of the LGBTI community in Southern Africa.


Hlophe complaint is an eerie echo

But the new complaint against the Western Cape judge president is also unprecedented

Mabuza contract grows by R10m

Eskom’s negotiators in a R100-million maintenance contract came back with a proposal to push up the costs

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide

Study unpacks the ‘hidden racism’ at Stellenbosch

Students say they feel unseen and unheard at the university because of their skin colour

Press Releases

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.