‘He’s definitely not a man at this stage,’ Juan’s father Willem asserts. We sit in the lounge of his apartment in Paradise Park. His son told him lately that he might become a dad. ‘What? Dad?!’ was the seniors first response. Willem tried to be as composed as possible and immediately raised practical issues. He urged his son to get a job in order to provide for the child. Currently Juan is unemployed. Sometimes he washes cars, sells DVDs, or works for a Nigerian drug merchant as money collector. As a white man he raises less suspicion. ‘People think I’m an innocent whitey but that whitey isn’t that innocent,’ he once said and laughed.
‘I was angry when I heard about the pregnancy but I didn’t show him,’ Willem says and points out ‘I just told him to get a job.’ Willems father tells me frankly, ‘If you’re clever enough to screw then you must be clever enough to work as well. This is my belief. If you can screw you can work as well otherwise you become a gigolo.’
Willem did the bulk of housework and caring in his past marriage. Five years ago he had his ‘coming out’ and found the courage to identify as a gay. He married Kevin who subsequently moved in with him and Juan. With the introduction of democracy homosexual marriages became legalized in South Africa. In the past Willem saw himself obliged to marry a woman and to have children althoug he never enjoyed sexual intercourse with a female. He sees himself as a woman in a man’s body and defines his nurturing personality as feminine. But this does not make him dress like a woman nor does he want to be addressed with a female name.
Although Willem sometimes jokingly says he would be Juan’s ‘mother’ the pregnancy called forth a sentiment which is usually seen as masculine: the felt obligation of having to provide. The possibility of him becoming a (grand)father triggers a concern usually associated with masculinity. ‘I was shocked when I heard about it,’ Willem says and goes on ‘Another child that I must bring up that I must feed. We suffer already. How can I bring up another child? My dad would have killed me.’ The male mother is worried about becoming a (grand)father. ‘Who will pay for the nappies and the milk, and who will pay for the school fees of the child?’ he laments.
Finally Willem says ‘I was happy when they told me that she was pulling a joke on him.’ He just found out that Juan’s girlfriend is actually not pregnant. She simulated the pregnancy by manipulating the test results. Her pregnant friend urinated on the test slide on her behalf.