While I was transcribing the conversation I had with Aldrin Sampear and his partner Kholofelo Mogane, I tweeted that I have never been so meticulous while writing. I chose each word diligently. This is because I am given an opportunity to contribute to the retelling and correcting of queer narratives. Without digging in too deep, the LGBTQIA+ community has been misrepresented since the beginning of time. It is only now that we’re seeing everyone’s story being told accurately.
Aldrin Sampear is a seasoned journalist with a career in broadcasting that spans over a decade. He has worked for multiple media entities that include POWER 98.7, eNCA, and he is currently the host of SAfm’s drive time show, Beyond The Headline. His partner Kholofelo Mogane is founder of Leyfort’s Kitchen, a catering business in Johannesburg.
What was scheduled to be a 25 minute interview ended up being a delightful conversation which extended to an invite to their beautiful home. Their warm hospitality, jokes and giggles here and there, made it almost impossible for me to leave. Their relationship is more than romance – it is a love partnership. They have grown to a level of seeking purpose and using their careers to build each other. ‘’We are a family now,’’ affirmed Aldrin, and this draws a big smile on Kholofelo’s face.
There were moments where I just wanted to watch them recite their story without interrupting. I experienced a love episode live and here’s how it went:
Q. How did you guys get to a place where you can speak publicly and proudly about your sexuality and relationship?
Aldrin: I think it’s all about sharing our happiness and love for each other. It is also about affirming that homosexuals too, can be in love, we do get hurt, and we do cry. However, we can share a lot of love. It has been difficult to get to this day. We have been together for ±7 years, we only went public last year, and we have never looked back. I remember what my therapist said to me last year, she said that she hopes that I won’t recall and go back to where I was, due to all the homophobic attacks I had received on social media.
Q. What does it take to stay with the same person for ±7 years?
Kholofelo: Firstly, it is respect. Aldrin has shown me love, and in whatever he does, he ‘’consults’’ with me. I am at my happiest when I’m with him. He is the best.
Aldrin: It’s also about honesty. If there’s no honesty, you won’t really know what you’re dealing with. However, honesty sometimes becomes too difficult to grapple with because some of the honesty may come across as hurtful, and spiteful. But it should always come from a good place.
Q. How do you guys show love to each other? Are there activities you do that build your relationship?
Aldrin: (while speaking to Kholofelo) you know how you told me that my love language is using my feet while we’re sleeping? (They shyly laugh together) Our toes always intertwine while we’re sleeping, and I didn’t realise this until he mentioned it. That is a sign of love, as subtle as it may be. But above all, he always affirms so many things about me; he tells me that I’m good, and I’m the best… (looks at Kholofelo) okay, it’s your turn now, say nice things about me (we all burst into laughter).
Q. In your relationship, have you had an issue with ‘titles’? I know you refer to each other as ’partners’ rather than ‘boyfriends.’
Aldrin: When you’ve been on the Down-low (DL) there’s nobody you refer to as ‘boyfriend’, you also don’t want to be reminded that you’re ‘gay’, so partner is a better option. There was a time where if somebody called me gay, or suspected that I was gay, it felt like it was an attack. This leads you to eliminating every little thing that links you to being gay.
Kholofelo: Growing up, I preferred using ‘Umuntu wam’ (my person) because when you say ‘my partner’ people automatically assume that you’re gay so, Umuntu wam was better. I prefer to call Aldrin Umuntu wam, but now he’s my life partner.
Q. Kholofelo, were you ever bullied because people suspected that you were gay?
Kholofelo: I was bullied every day. There were two boys in the community who would call me ‘’sister-boy’’ and it would terribly hurt me. Sometimes I would stay home because I was afraid of them. There was a guy who said I owed him money, and had to pay him every day, and he would even beat me up. When I think about this, it saddens me.
Q. Sometimes trauma makes us reject love. Do you ever think the love you’re receiving now is too overwhelming?
Kholofelo: I prayed for Aldrin. When he came through, I knew that this is where my heart belongs. He is the one that taught me love. So, whatever I went through, I’ve decided to leave it in the past.
Q. Aldrin, when you spoke about your sexuality for the first time on your radio show, was it a spur-of-the-moment thing or you had been waiting for the right moment?
Aldrin: Well, it was building up. I had a conversation with Given Mkhari, Chairman of MSG Group. He said he knew that there was something I was afraid of sharing with my listeners and because of that, it was holding me back. He said that nothing would happen if I decided to talk about it, and those who love me would stay with me and those who don’t, were never meant to be with me. That was when it dawned on me. I was concerned about the brand of the radio station I was working for. However, when the Chairman affirmed me, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
Q. Coming out may be delayed because one is afraid of being cut off financially by parents. Kholofelo, what was your reason?
Kholofelo: I was scared of rejection. I have been independent from a young age, so financially, I was okay. My parents need me more than I need them financially. Being rejected by them was not something I wanted to go through.
Aldrin: But it’s such a f**k*d up thing. Because it’s almost as if your financial status will determine how easy your journey will be. I think about the guy who’s poor, why should that process be difficult for them because this is not what they have chosen to be. However, when your family depends on you financially, it’s almost as if you’re buying their solidarity. Sorry I interrupted you…
Kholofelo: I don’t even know where I was… (we all break into laughter), see? He’s such a journalist.
Q. Kholofelo, you are the founder of Leyforts Kitchen. How did that business idea come about?
Kholofelo & Aldrin: (Both gush over the question while making an interluding, sound like it was the opening of an exciting film) ‘’rahdahdah tahn tahn!’’
Kholofelo: I started at a young age. When I got compliments about my food from my aunt, I knew that I was meant to cook. Years later, I worked at a car rental company and forgot about my dreams. I have always wanted to be a Chef. When Covid happened, Aldrin said ‘’baby, you know you’ve always wanted to be a businessman and you’ve always wanted to cook.’’ I thought about it, and I had so much fear. It took a while until I decided to go for it! Aldrin advised me a lot, and I started an Instagram page, got my first gig, and that’s how it started. Now I am a successful caterer. A whole CEO!
Q. Aldrin, I’ve seen you promoting Kholofelo’s business like your life depends on it. Can you stress the importance of spousal support?
Aldrin: A friend has actually commented on this. She said she loves the way I’ve been pushing his business. And now it’s really more than that, it’s about an income. For us as a family (Kholofelo blushes) Yes, we’re a family now.
Q. Kholofelo, how do you accommodate his busy career in the media as well as the attention that comes with it?
Kholofelo: (takes a deep breath) Being in love with this man is challenging because people expect me to be like him. They expect me to be as intelligent as him, (Aldrin looks at him in disagreement) and sometimes I ask myself why am I being put under pressure? However, I have accepted it and he also knows that we are not the same. When it comes to the attention, I get bothered when they don’t let go while hugging him (laughs).
Q. Aldrin, do you wear the journalistic hat when arguing with Kholofelo?
Aldrin: It happens a lot. But I am cognizant of it. Intelligence is a privilege that not everyone enjoys. Our IQ levels are different, and how we delve into complexities of issues is also quite different. I am trained in that sphere, and I do that on a daily basis, and that’s not what he does on a daily basis. When it relates to intelligence being a ‘privilege thing’, you can abuse it. He always reminds me if I’m abusing my arguing skills constantly.
Q. It’s pride month. What can you say to the LGBTQIA+ community?
Kholofelo: I would say to the young gay Kholofelo that don’t lose yourself. Be you, accept yourself, and don’t allow people to undermine you. When you have accepted that you’re gay, fly with it.
Aldrin: (Clears throat) (Kholofelo: yes baby, make me proud, answer like a real journalist) No I must answer from the heart (laughs). I don’t want to limit it to the young person, especially when we are talking about the LGBTQIA+ because a lot of people who are not necessarily young, still deal with the issue of sexuality, and don’t know how to navigate it. Kholo is right, because you want to be you, and it is difficult to be you. Find support structures around you. Once you have, try to be brave and live your life authentically as you can, and you become visible. It is about your happiness. As Jenifer Lewis says, ‘’feel what you’re feeling, but then, move.’’
During this pride month, I hope that all queer bodies who have read this article, and those who may not have, will find inspiration in genuine stories like this of Aldrin and Kholofelo. I am grateful that we are living in a country that recognizes all queer bodies as human beings. We still have a long way to go, there still needs to be a lot of unlearning, relearning, and education. There are many battles that queer people are fighting, and I cannot wait for the day South Africa will report zero violence against all queer people.