INSPIRATIONAL LGBTQ WOMEN – BUHLE MADLALA & SIXOLILE MABOMBO
In 2017 I started the “Inspirational Women Series” where I feature women that I find inspirational just for living their authentic life.
This year we’re focusing on inspirational LGBTQ South African Women. First up is Buhle Madlala and her partner Sixolile Mabombo. Buhle is a self-employed Events Planner and Entrepreneur, best known as a contestant on the fifth season of the M-Net reality competition series Survivor South Africa, 2014. From humble beginnings, Buhle has become a global citizen who now regularly travels to diverse destinations across Europe, China, Canada and the African continent. An avid soccer player, she’s all about being real. Sixolile has been involved in several Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, thriving in leadership roles in her career.
Thank you Buhle, Sixolile and Amu for your time and sharing your story.
If you, the reader, know of any other inspirational LGBTQ individuals or your own story we could feature contact us.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY?
“We are two mom’s to a teenager. Our life partnership started 5 years ago. We were connected by friend and Survivor contestant Genna who thought we would make a great couple and puff here we are. Amu (daughter) and I (Sixolile) love to laze around watching reality shows like Ridiculousness, MKR and The Bachelor(ette), while Buhle and I (Sixolile) love a good complicated thriller and are die hard GoT (Game of Thrones) fans, (the exception being any episodes after S8E3 – those can just be deleted forever 😑). Three women in one house has its own challenges as you guess – 3 times the PMS, bathroom access issues and, as Amu has complained, not much in the way of male perspectives on life. Sixolile and I manage this by including as many uncles as possible in Amu’s life, and they have been great in giving her a male’s perspective to life. I (Sixolile) have been fortunate in that I’ve never really been in the closet. My family has always been accepting of the authentic me, as have been the companies I’ve been fortunate to work at, in that they have been in alignment with my values around diversity and inclusion. I’m well aware that this is not the experience of many LGBT+ people in South Africa. As an example, in 2015, as part of the Spectrum Network at Barclays Africa, I helped structure The LGBT+ Forum (https://lgbtforum.org/) which seeks to support and enable safe and equitable workplaces which allow LGBT+ employees to bring their whole selves to work without fear of discrimination.”
CAPE TOWN IS PERCEIVED AS BEING VERY TOLERANT AND ACCEPTING OF LGBTQ PEOPLE. DO YOU AGREE? WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE LIVING IN CAPE TOWN AS A FAMILY MADE UP OF TWO MOMS?
“We never really experienced too much discrimination even while we lived in Joburg, but Cape Town is very tolerant. We have not had any problems with acceptance of our family structure. For me, even work colleagues were quick to get on board and are very understanding of the dynamics.” – Buhle
HAVE YOU ALWAYS KNOWN YOU WANTED KIDS? ARE THERE PLANS FOR MORE?
“I never thought I wanted kids, until a few years ago. We’ve tried to go the AI route, but got sidetracked with life and career changes. Now I want to adopt a little boy in the next two years. When Buhle and I met, her having a child was one of my concerns, as I know myself to be quite resistant of having people be dependent on me. That said, I take parenting very seriously as I believe it is the most important job in the world.” – Sixolile
ARE YOU BOTH HANDS-ON PARENTS? DO YOU PLAY “BAD COP, GOOD COP” WHEN IT COMES TO DISCIPLING YOUR DAUGHTER?
“I am much more hands-on than Buhle. This can get quite frustrating as I tend to have to take on the bad cop/disciplinarian role most of the time. Coupling this with the other intricacies of being a step-mother, it can get quite challenging for me.” – Sixolile
HAVE BOTH YOUR EXTENDED FAMILIES EMBRACED YOUR MODERN FAMILY?
“My siblings and cousins are very much on board, and have taken to the role of aunt/uncle quite naturally. There is some resistance in the parental generation around my involvement with parenting Amu (Buhle’s biological daughter), and this has caused friction where they feel that I am overly involved in parenting and providing for Amu.” – Sixolile
WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE LIKE WHEN IT CAME TO IDENTIFYING A SCHOOL FOR AMU? WAS IT A CHALLENGE THAT YOUR DAUGHTER HAS SAME -SEX PARENTS?
“We’ve never experienced any challenges when looking for schools. Perhaps because Amu has had remedial education, those type of schools are very accommodating of different types of learners and family structures.” – Buhle
HOW DO YOU MANAGE BALANCING WORK AND FAMILY LIFE?
“I operate from home and run the Cape Town office of my boutique marketing agency called The Brand Factory, my partner runs the Joburg office. Xoli has the more hectic travel schedule and we are fortunate that I dictate my hours except when I’m producing events then we get an au pair for Amu. Outside the office life, we are hikers and enjoy music festivals and craft markets which we get to do together.” – Buhle
YOU STARRED ON ONE OF THE SEASON’S OF SURVIVOR SOUTH AFRICA, WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE FOR YOU? WERE YOU ALREADY “OUT” ? IF YES, DID YOUR SEXUALITY HINDER YOUR PERFORMANCE ON THE SHOW?
“Starring on Survivors was a life changing experience, I got to fully immerse myself in deliberate creation and self discovery through the meditation teachings. I live my life authentically and have never felt the need to come out. I never hide any experience of my existence.” – Buhle
IF THERES A YOUNG LESBIAN DEALING WITH THEIR OWN ACCEPTANCE, FROM FAMILY AND SOCIETY, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THEM?
“Acceptance is a challenge especially from family members. My advice to young lesbians would be to live your truth as no one can walk your path. YOU are not responsible for anyone else’s prejudices.” – Buhle
PLEASE SHARE A QUOTE YOU LIVE BY?
“If asked a direct question, give a direct answer. Don’t ask a question until you’re ready for any answer that may come.” – Buhle
“Love me without fear – Want me without restrictions” – Sixolile