Thami Kotlolo on Traditional Queer Weddings


Thami Kotlolo on Somizi and Nomsa Buthelezi’s weddings (Instagram)

During Pride Month, Feather Awards and Thami Dish Foundation founder, Thami Kotlolo, will be sharing a weekly reflection to stimulate debate, encourage sharing and create better relationships within our LGBTQI family.

I spent the past weekend ekasi celebrating wonderful, traditional, queer weddings. I have been waiting for years to be able to do this!

I saw my bestie Somizi get married to Mohale in a traditional celebration of love under the hashtag #SomhaleTraditionalWedding.

We also saw the joyful wedding of Nomsa Buthelezi from the reality wedding show My Perfect Wedding as she married her love, Zandile Shezi (#zandilewedsnomsa).

At these beautiful traditional weddings, we experienced how our generation is embracing and honouring our traditions with our own modern expression. This is what culture is! Alive, growing, reflecting US!

Our culture and traditions are not frozen. They never have been; we add layers with every generation and we need to ensure that these new elements embrace everyone – across genders, sexualities, races and belief systems.

And then, I read on social media that some people found it strange to see traditional, queer weddings. There were a lot of questions, such as: who will wear the dress or who is the makoti (bride) between the two? Who paid lobola and why? Whose clan names are used once both families have been combined?

Some may find these questions invasive but they are also an opportunity for us queer activists to shed some light and educate those who don’t understand.

In my opinion, we can apply common sense. A wedding is a union, it does not depend on roles. It can happen without a makoti or without a mkhwenyana (bridegroom). No-one has to wear a dress or everyone can! If lobola is going to be paid, it would only make sense that it’s done by both families – just like the gift exchange ceremony. And clan names? Well, both clan names can be recognised.

There is also a clear need to ensure there is sensitisation of families, friends, pastors and society. Sensitisation must extend to the wedding and event planners who also need to ensure that their service providers – such as security, waiters, waitresses, staff, floor marshals etc. – are sensitised. No-one needs homophobia at a celebration of love!

And, this call extends to the songs! It’s not necessary to sing about makoti at a gay wedding … or mkhwenyana at a lesbian wedding. We have plenty of songs celebrating love without insulting people with heteronormativity!

I love queer weddings… and believe in them. I’d like to thank Somizi, Sylvester and Nomsa for sharing their experiences with me. I’d like to hear more from queer married people. I’d like their voices and experiences to help us keep growing our culture and traditions.

The recent weddings have been progressive but there is still a lot of unlearning and learning that needs to happen.

Congratulations to the newlyweds! I love you. You ARE love!


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@aust_malema the official photographer for both weddings. Ur just something else

A post shared by Somizi (@somizi) on


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Gomora My Home….. #ZandileWedsNomsa #Mrs&MrsButhelezi-Shezi

A post shared by Nomsa Buthelezi-Shezi (@nomsadiva) on

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