Nkoli, Simon Tseko

Nkoli, Simon 1957–1998, anti-apartheid and LGBTQ rights activist. Born in Soweto, Nkoli (sometimes referred to as Nkodi) was an influential South African anti-apartheid, gay and lesbian rights, and HIV/AIDS activist. He founded the Vaal Civic Association in 1981, and soon after he became regional secretary of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS). Nkoli also formed the Saturday Group, the first black LGTBQ group in Africa. In 1984, he was arrested, along with twenty-one other activists, and faced the death penalty. The arrest shifted public perception of both the anti-apartheid struggle and the LGBTQ liberation movement. Nkoli was eventually acquitted and released from prison in 1988, after which he founded the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand (GLOW). He also helped establish Soweto's Township AIDS Project (TAP) in 1990. Nkoli represented the African region as a member of the International Lesbian and Gay Association board, and was the first openly gay activist in the country to meet with Nelson Mandela in 1994. In 1996, He became one of the first African gay men to publicly self-identify as HIV+, establishing Positive African Men, a support group in Johannesburg. Nkoli died of an AIDS-related illness on November 30, 1998.

See E. Cameron and M. Gevisser, eds., Defiant Desire: Gay and Lesbian Lives in South Africa (1995); N. W. Hoad et al., ed. Sex and Politics in South Africa (2005); B. M. Munro, South Africa and the Dream of Love to Come: Queer Sexuality and the Struggle for Freedom (2012); A. Carolin, Post-Apartheid Same-Sex Sexualities (2020); K. Batra, Worlding Postcolonial Sexualities (2021).

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