Bontle Khalo

Loud and proud, Bontle Khalo is saying “No”. No to discrimination. No to intolerance. No to hate. The 27-year-old activist lives in KwaThema — a township once known as a haven for gays and lesbians but today notorious for hate crimes against them, including “corrective rape” and murder. ‘Fearlessly vocal Khalo speaks out against what is fundamentally and constitutionally wrong. Deeply committed to fighting for the acknowledgment of LGBTI rights, Khalo is a full-time volunteer for the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee, which she co-founded in 2009. On the ground, with little support and zero financial reward, she hosts events, organises marches and facilitates workshops, all in an effort to create awareness, foster acceptance and unify her community. With an attitude of “if it has to be, it’s up to me”, Khalo has taken it upon herself to create change in her community and to access what, in black and white, is her constitutional right.

— Lu Larche