For me, being gay or lesbian was never unusual, and it took me years to realise that other people have a problem with it – a thought I found really odd and hateful and based on nothing but prejudice and ignorance.
I was lucky. My blindness to this small difference was nurtured by my parents, and aided by my mother’s sister – the best aunt in the world.
If you haven’t gathered yet, Suzanne (nicknamed Zannie) is lesbian; and I grew up with the kindest, funniest, quirkiest, most awesome auntie ever. I was extremely jealous when she and her wife (they only married in 2007; though they dated and adopted children before that) became mothers to two children. They were on the frontier of battles to legalise gay marriage and adoption, and their wedding ceremony (held first at court, and then a much larger ceremony at their house) was really something special. They’ve also raised two incredibly cool kids.
But it wasn’t always so obvious that things would end so happily ever after. And this is where Meneer Smit comes in.
Many many years ago, Suzanne, her (then) girlfriend Anne-Marie, and Anne-Marie’s brother were out tipsily enjoying an afternoon at a bar. The topic of marriage came up, and my aunt’s brother-in-law drunkenly phoned the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa to find out how exactly to tie the knot. Somehow in the conversation with the secretary, it came up that the two betrothed were women. There was a pause.
‘Let me ask Mister Smith,’ replied the secretary trimly in Afrikaans. Klop klop klop… the sound of her heels tripping away echoed on the phone. Klop klop klop; she returned.
Curtly she picked up the phone, and snapped down the line: ‘Meneer Smit sê nee!’ And she hung up.
And laughed. And repeated the story many times over, and the phrase became the ultimate ‘no’ for her adopted children many years later.
For Zannie’s 60th birthday, I decided I wanted to create something for this special person in my life, and after a brainstorming session with my mother, decided a cross stitch would be the perfect gift.
The quote represents how far they’ve come, and how happy they are now. It was a lot of work (my biggest cross stitch to date!) but so worth it. Thank-you to Alica Watkins for designing the pattern for me (she’s extremely talented!).