Gay Father’s Agony

Gay Father’s Agony

Limited: Some public spaces restrict Phakamile Magamdela to be a hands-on gay father

One would swear that gay rights are still violated, but in a subtle way. Phakamile Magamdela (41), a single gay father, can vouch to this. His adopted baby was admitted to a private hospital in Soweto. He had to sleep over at the children’s ward with other mothers. That’s how the cunning exclusion of gay people showed.

“Facilities in the ward were for females only. I could not even take a shower. I had to negotiate with the equally puzzled security officials at the ward entrance to go to visitors’ toilets, and negotiate my way back into the ward. I could have stubbornly used the facilities, but I didn’t want to cause drama,” Phakamile remembers.

Playing cool: Father and son enjoying outdoor activities

That’s not all. A man on a Rea Vaya bus blatantly refused to surrender him a seat specifically reserved for people with special needs. Phakamile was holding his small child. “He showed me a sticker on the window that instructs that the seat was for the elderly, pregnant women and mothers with children. What about men with children?” he demands an answer.

Unfortunately even at most malls, babies’ change rooms are in female toilets. He once asked a janitor to help him change the baby’s nappy at a females’ toilet, and she snapped, “Where’s the mother?” “She helped out but I suspect she regretted it,” Phakamile suspects.

He took up the matter with the clinic and the management of Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system. They admitted that he was not the only one to lodge the complaint, and promised to be more accommodating.

Phakamile is not completely hopeless. He was thrilled the other time when he went to a library at the University of Johannesburg Kingsway campus. There was a unisex toilet. “That is a step toward the right direction,” he says optimistically.