PARKER KIT HILL

The out singer on the join­ing of re­li­gion and sex­u­al­ity, per­sonal vul­ner­a­bil­ity, his new al­bum, and de­fy­ing the on­slaught of on­line death threats.

Gay Times Magazine - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy Aart Ver­rips Fash­ion Rich Fu­mani Words William J Con­nolly

Dancer and Vine star Parker Kit Hill is one of the orig­i­nal in­flu­encers. Af­ter play­ing RuPaul’s son in the lat­est sea­son of Broad City, we grab a mo­ment with the ac­tor to ex­plore New York’s queer safe spaces and hear some of his favourite mem­o­ries from the city that never sleeps.

South African-born Nakhane Touré isn’t hid­ing in a box any­more. As a proud (and out) gay man, the young singer and ac­tor has fought for his place as a vis­i­ble mem­ber of the community. How­ever, with a heavy re­li­gious up­bring­ing and this na­tive town struling with the pro­gres­sion of LGBTQ rights, Nakhane knows first-hand that not ev­ery­body shares the vi­sion of him liv­ing proudly.

Nakhane speaks to Gay Times about his per­sonal jour­ney to find­ing and cel­e­brat­ing him­self, his de­par­ture from the world of re­li­gion, why stereo­types aren’t some­thing we should to­tally fear, and fac­ing the on­slaught of threats to his life. Your mu­sic is an open and hon­est look into both your life and oc­ca­sion­ally your body. Why do

you ap­proach work this way? From a young age, be­fore I was writ­ing my own mu­sic - when I was only writ­ing lit­tle sto­ries and ter­ri­ble po­ems - cre­ativ­ity was some­thing that gave me a space to purge. I know the prob­lem­at­ics of ‘con­fes­sional’ art - as if there is no agency in it - but it was a space for me to say what I couldn’t say back then in my wak­ing life. It gave me courage. This was my work, and I could do what­ever I wanted with it.

In terms of the body; I’ve been think­ing a lot about that lately. There’s a Moses Sum­ner lyric that goes, “I’m not a body/the body is but a shell”, and my re­la­tion­ship with my body has al­ways been a dis­tant one. I’ve never re­ally hated it. It was just... there. There was that time in high school when I wished I was a lit­tle taller, but then read that Prince was short so I knew it meant noth­ing. Gen­er­ally, and es­pe­cially now, it’s a can­vas,. It’s some­thing to be used - with all its his­tory and pol­i­tics - to fur­ther the work. With such hon­esty, does that make you vul­ner­a­ble in al­most ev­ery­thing you then do? I hon­estly don’t know why one would be­come an artist if they do not al­low them­selves to be vul­ner­a­ble, but the de­grees vary, of course. I think that whether one knows it or not - and how­ever in­tel­lec­tual and dis­tant or cold their work is - they are still of­fer­ing them­selves to the world. That is fright­en­ing. That’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

Do you find the mix­ing of your sex­u­al­ity and your

re­li­gion a dif­fi­cult one? Does it present daily or re­oc­cur­ring chal­lenges? I no longer iden­tify as Chris­tian, so I no longer have any dif­fi­cul­ties. I did in the be­gin­ning when I was try­ing to marry my Chris­tian faith with some level of ho­mo­eroti­cism. It was too dif­fi­cult and I was too guilt-rid­den. I left Chris­tian­ity and asked my­self where my peo­ple were, spir­i­tu­ally, be­fore we were colonised. It’s an atavis­tic jour­ney but I’ve found beauty and re­lief in my Xhosa spir­i­tu­al­ity. Con­grats on the an­nounce­ment of your sec­ond al­bum. What can we ex­pect from You Will Not

Die? I spent the last four years of my life writ­ing this al­bum so ex­pect blood, sweat and tears!

With my de­but al­bum, I was deal­ing with a lot of the things that were hap­pen­ing at that par­tic­u­lar time in my life. With this one, I felt I needed to go back to my child­hood, go back to the for­ma­tive years, and deal with some trau­mas mu­si­cally. It’s not all joy­less, but I had to face my­self, my fam­ily, the mu­sic that formed me and some peo­ple I wish

I never met. The joke with my friends is that the al­bum is, “Trauma, but make it fash­ion.” And we’ve got to talk about the al­bum cover. It’s

mov­ing and em­pow­er­ing… It’s a sim­ple im­age, shot by one of my clos­est friends, and pho­tog­ra­pher, Tar­ryn Hatch­ett. Ini­tially I had cho­sen a black and white pho­to­graph that ob­scured my face. I thought that the al­bum was so per­sonal, that I felt I needed maybe to ob­scure some­thing about my­self. Tar­ryn played to my van­ity and I started hav­ing some ideas. I knew that I wanted it to have some level of an­drog­yny. I knew that the back­ground had to be red and that it had to have move­ment - how­ever slight- and I also knew that ev­ery time I looked at it I wanted to feel pow­er­ful. It is heav­ily in­flu­enced by Ren Hang’s work. Has be­ing open about your sex­u­al­ity ever pre­sented hur­dles in your ca­reer pro­fes­sion­ally? No one has ever said, “We will not hire you be­cause you are queer” to my face, but mi­cro a†res­sions have been ex­pe­ri­enced.

So how do you en­sure that you don’t get boxed into a stereo­type as an out artist? I be­lieve that we all pos­sess a tiny bit of a stereo­type. Ac­knowl­edg­ing that helped me. And it also hum­bled me. Ev­ery time I looked at that artist that I was judg­ing be­cause I thought they were a stereo­type, I re­mem­bered that I was also prob­a­bly be­ing looked at by some­one, who prob­a­bly thought I was a stereo­type. It doesn’t re­ally an­swer your ques­tion be­cause I don’t re­ally have a clean an­swer for you. All I know is that ev­ery time I do some­thing, I want to do it hon­estly, and com­pletely. Whether I’m read as a stereo­type or not is not my busi­ness. LGBTQ rights are thank­fully be­com­ing an ar­gu­ment in both pol­i­tics and me­dia. How

im­por­tant is open vis­i­bil­ity in 2018? Very im­por­tant, but we must not be care­less with it. There’s peo­ple whose mor­tal­ity de­pends on them be­ing dis­creet. It can’t be the, ‘If you don’t come out of the closet, we will drag you out’. Those of us who are priv­i­leged enough to be vis­i­ble, must be. When I was a teenager I had no one who looked like me and was queer. I dis­cov­ered James Bald­win when I was 19 and sud­denly there I was, be­tween those pages. In a book writ­ten by a writer who was long dead by then. It was great. But where were the peo­ple of my generation. Thank­fully, 10 years later things are quite dif­fer­ent. Does the po­lit­i­cal or so­cial cli­mate of what’s hap­pen­ing around you ever in­flu­ence your mu­sic? One has to work very hard to not be in­flu­enced by their so­cio-po­lit­i­cal sur­round­ings. It has to be quite a wil­ful and de­lib­er­ate de­ci­sion. Does stay­ing true to your her­itage and the jour­ney you’ve trav­elled mat­ter? Do you make that a fo­cus ever in your work? Of course: I am my her­itage! I love my her­itage and it’s in­fi­nite. It’s an­cient and re­cent. It’s by blood and by art. You spoke hon­estly about the death threats you re­ceived dur­ing your time on movie The Wound. Did th­ese have a long term ef­fect only day-to­day hon­esty about your sex­u­al­ity?I had no choice as the threats were pub­lic. The peo­ple who were mak­ing them were not con­cerned with se­crecy or be­ing found out, so how could I not be open and hon­est? The one thing that I felt they had to know was that I wasn’t afraid of them and that their bul­ly­ing wouldn’t drown me. If any­thing, it would em­bolden me. I know those peo­ple. They’ve been call­ing me a fa†ot since I was four.

The other side of the coin is less com­bat­ive. I’m not a ro­bot so yes, when I leave my house I get para­noid. How do we then get to a place where oth­ers don’t have to face ho­mo­pho­bic hur­dles like th­ese?

I don’t know, it’s tricky. But I do think that ed­u­ca­tion from a very young age is im­por­tant. And fi­nally, in a world that of­ten tries to limit those that blur queer lines and reach out­side so­cial con­structs, where does your seem­ingly lim­it­less pos­i­tiv­ity come from? A few places. It’s a fuck you to all those peo­ple who wish me ill. There’s the peo­ple who also love me and their sup­port is weirdly un­ceas­ing.

I come from a fam­ily of ‘rebels’. Peo­ple who do what the fuck they want, when they want. My great­grand­fa­ther gave up his place as a chief to go find love in Cape Town. He was not go­ing to do things just be­cause they had been done for how­ever long a time.

And fi­nally, it’s from the peo­ple who sup­port my work.

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