A national LGBTQI+ storytelling project curated by Maeve Marsden
featuring a book, event series and an award-winning podcast

A national LGBTQI+ storytelling project curated by Maeve Marsden
featuring a book, event series and award-winning podcast

269 Ani Sidzamba – From Ice Queen to King

Ani meets a certain lady in red who forces her to upend a lifetime of self-protection.

Anivuyina (Ani) Sidzamba is a; black activist, actress and Sydney Drag King – Malcolm XY. Ani’s drag style focuses on highlighting black excellence through spoken word, dance, comedy and lipsync. She has taken her performances all across Sydney stages and actively promotes and encourages black visibility and participation within the Sydney queer scene. Ani was born and raised in South Africa until migrating to the western suburbs at age nine. Ani is also a founding member of Haus of Shakur- a Bla(c)k queer collective and safe space centring and uplifting Bla(c)k queer youth.

Transcript

Maeve: Hi, I’m Maeve Marsden, and you’re listening to Queerstories. Anivuyina Sidzamba is a; black activist, actress and Drag King known as Malcolm XY. Ani is also a founding member of Haus of Shakur- a Bla(c)k queer collective and safe space centring and uplifting Bla(c)k queer youth. Ani often performs at the Kings at Giant Dwarf, a regular drag king night created by Laura Hart. Not only should you get along to the kings because it’s excellent, you should also check out Laura’s story on this very podcast. There are so many wonderful regular queer nights in Sydney – we’re spoiled for choice. For now though, listen to Ani’s story, performed at Giant Dwarf in March, 2021.

Ani: So I want to take you back to July 2019, two weeks after my 24th Birthday. I was still living with my mom, at Uni and working casual agency jobs, because I’m a natural born hustler. Overall, my life was flatlining – I was bored 24/7. One of my hustles was being an extra in movies and tv shows whenever they needed a flicker of colour across the screen. This movie was booking for a San Francisco vibe so mostly black Africans and Latinos were cast. I won’t say the name of the movie, but it was about a man that’s invisible.

The extras were placed in this large waiting room. I found myself pacing around when suddenly I spotted a big blonde afro, so I made my way towards it. There were two girls chatting; one was South African like me and the other one with the glorious afro was Cuban – so I was in heaven… coz I knew these bitches were not gonna bore me. I sit down, we have lovely engaging convos and then it happened… the beginning of the rest of my life.

I moved here when I was 9, and when I fully realised my new reality – I became an ice queen. My mother had applied to a nursing opportunity in Australia and of course she was successful. She had to live and settle in Australia before my brother and I could come and join her. In that year we were living with our father. He never came to Australia. Boarding the plane was the happiest moment for me because I hadn’t seen my mother in 12 months. We got on the train from the airport and that was the first time I remember seeing ONLY light skinned people everywhere- it was a shock. But my mother said it was great. So, I believed her.

Our apartment was tiny unlike the our house in South Africa. On the first day of school at assembly, this woman was announcing everyone’s names, and then there was a pause. She visibly grabbed the adult standing next to her and said “how do you say this name”. She proceeds to say my name, Anivuyina but she says it wrong. I went from Anivuyina to Annie. (But please call me Ani). I remember everyone staring at me wide-eyed. And I assumed it was because I had fabulous braided hair with beads in it. And theirs was … ponytails. This girl approaches me, and sits next to me. I was happy, I had a friend.

A few days later I greet said friend “hey friend” she stares at me and says “Do you mind”, rolls her eyes and ignores me. From then she only spoke to me to humiliate or embarrass me to our peers. Soon this became the norm. I was described as a girl with; electrocuted hair, a wide-nosed n-word, a burnt chicken nugget. Aren’t children creative? Gotta love the bastards.

My teachers would single me out, and say things like “I’ve heard negative things about you girls since you’ve started hanging out with new people” aka me. They would say you have to be “very careful of the company you keep”.

I remember getting on a bus and taking the window seat, then this white girl commands me to move because she wants the window seat. She proceeds to get everyone to tell me to move because how dare I not do what she says. I had no-one come to my defence, the teachers did nothing, my “friends” joined in. It was arousing for people – even people from other races – to make me feel the smallest out of everyone.

I accepted my reality. I trusted noone. I stopped viewing friends as friends. I became a cold-hearted ice queen, all through till uni. I had to learn to have no emotions. If I did, I would be crying every day.

So. July 2019 at the film set.

This long-legged lady in red comes to our table, and she says “hello ladies, may I join”. The other girls respond “of course we were just talking about our husbands”. She says “oh amazing, I don’t have one but my boyfriend is ….yadda yadda yadda”. I zoned out. I was just roasting their relationships, that was the highlight for me that day. I started playing South African music which caught the attention of this lady. She looks at me and says “I want to go clubbing with you, you seem fun” and I’m like “oh bitch I am wild”, and that is when the flirting began and this girl was packing it on I mean calling me beautiful (which I am), laughing at everything I said, touching my arm, caressing my leg with her foot (which was the 1st time I ever experienced foot play), and the icing on the cake was when I was searching for someone in the crowd and she asks “ what are you doing” and I respond “ I’m looking for someone” and this bold bitch responses “ I’m right here”. I almost fell off my chair and I’m thinking don’t you have a man waiting for you at home hmmmm. But damn she had me at “I’m right here”.
I kept her in my peripherals, trying to decipher what was going on, because I was having emotions. Emotions I did not consent to. And that was not okay with me. 4am, the shoot ends, we went our separate ways. I pass out. I wake up, and the first thing on my mind is her. Shit.

We began to court via Instagram, sending voice memos. I found out she’d only ever kissed girls and that was enough for me. Our first ‘Hang out’ was at Liverpool Westfield. When I saw her I thought ‘wow she is stunning’. We hugged. She smiled at me and suggested we get some food. So we quickly grabbed a subway before taking a stroll around Liverpools’ graveyard/park. I was so nervous I couldn’t eat. It was like seeing a familiar face, but she wasn’t. Then these two men approach us and offer us drugs. And I was like “Uhmmmm… nooo” (it was too soon to get high with her). Then they asked if we were a couple and we’re like “Uhhmmmmm …nooo?” Like damn it was obvious to straight men.

She grabbed my hand and we sat down and spoke about our lives and hobbies. We both love the arts, acting, we both come from rich cultural backgrounds. I put my arm around her because it was getting cold and she didn’t have a jacket, so I was being a gentle-lady. And then she starts to nuzzle my neck. And I’m like “noooooo you have a boyfriend”. I am not going to fight a man.

This girl was so comfortable she told me about her fears, her pain, her happiness. She was an open book sharing her life. And I realised to have anything solid with her I’m going to have to allow myself to feel otherwise I am going to miss out on profound, significant human connection.

I thought I was alone in this world and she showed me I didn’t have to be. We kept meeting up at the graveyard until she was mine. And now that lady in red is my wife. Aw I’m just kidding, that was a joke. But she will be.

I really opened up once I met her. I went from 0 to 100. I started to drag as a King called Malcolm XY. Thank you! I began to socialise, and to let people in – I’m still working on it. But progress.

So, if you have ever hung out with me, just know before 2019 I would have said hi and bye. But now I ask whatsup. Thank you!

Maeve: Thanks for listening. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast, and if you enjoy Queerstories, please consider supporting the project for as little as $1 per month on Patreon. The link is in the episode description.

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Credits

Queerstories is produced by Maeve Marsden and recorded by wonderful technicians at events around the country. Editors and support crew have included Beth McMullen, Bryce Halliday, Ali Graham and Nikki Stevens.