The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them
- Isaiah 11:6
This is a story of war. If you expect the usual, "Gung-Ho - we defeated the enemy and covered ourselves with glory," you will be sadly disappointed. This story is about suffering, but it is also about hope. Hope that these atrocities will never again be perpetrated against the helpless. Hope that one day our sexual orientation will be as irrelevant as last week's Sunday newspaper.
The story is set against the background of the Angolan war. South Africa invaded Angola in 1975. The last South African troops withdrew from Angolan soil in 1989, when UN Resolution 435 was adopted by South Africa. This also paved the way to Namibia's independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990 and the first South African democratic elections on 27 April 1994.
The South African army was essentialy a citizen force. The Apartheid state conscripted white eighteen-year old boys for an initial period of two years. Few exceptions were made to this rule. Under Apartheid, homosexuality was a criminal offence. Homosexuals in the army were seen as traitors and/or saboteurs. They were actively persecuted and punished to the full extent of the law. No leniency was shown to these people, who undermined the very foundations of the State and Church.
Since 1989, the situation has changed dramatically. Homophylic people have complete civil rights and recourse under the law, like everybody else. The historic Civil Union Bill, which allows same-sex marriages, was approved by the National Assembly on Tuesday, 14 November 2006. South Africa was only the fifth country that passed a bill on same-sex marriage.
Our story is one of pain and guilt. Yet we endured. We persevered. We succeeded. Many of our brothers died in the process. Others were scarred for life, both physically and mentally. This story is a memorial to all the gay troopies that served an evil, corrupt system, which despised them, but still took their life-blood and persecuted them in return.
This is our soul. Please tread lightly on it.