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K-$ (K-Dollahz), The Gender Studies Tutor You Didn’t Know You Needed

On this day in 1990, the World Health Organization removed “homosexuality” from the “International Classification of Diseases”. Ever since, May 17 has often been the day to celebrate members of the LGBTQIA+ community throughout the world. International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia is an opportunity of visibility and engagement with the LGBTQIA+ community.

I am thankful for having grown up in a home where gender and sexuality were not finite. This, however, does not mean I totally understood the narratives around the two topics. In recent months, engaging with K-$’s (pronounced K-Dollahz) content has been a joy.

Who is K-$

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Images shot by Luke Doman, @lukebelldoman

By now, K-$ is a (trap)household name in the South African music scene. He has been gigging around South Africa, capturing the hearts of party goers across the nation. I first came across the Cape Town native DJ when he graced the October 2017 issue of The Lake Magazine. Not long after that, I recall dancing along in my seat while listening to a mix that came up on Soundcloud’s shuffle. The blend of old school, new school, and feel good tracks featured in his “Mix for Syd Davy” had me sold. However, it was only in March that I had the pleasure of watching his set live. Unfortunately I was filming at Sneaker Exchange CPT for Festival Politicos, but I fondly remember being proud to see Kalo take the stage, and even more pleased to hear and see how the crowd responded to his mix.

While the self proclaimed “international playboy” firmly rests his foot on the neck of nostalgia with every mix, he is also educating his social media following about his transition.

Sharing as a form of representation

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Image by Svenja Trierscheid (@svenja_trierscheid)

According to hetero-normative/patriarchal schools of thought, subjects who fall outside of “the norm” are systematically erased. Granted, there have been noteworthy improvements, but the LGBTQIA+ still has an uphill battle to simply exist in this world. On the bright side, through social media their community can communicate with each other, and society in general, from their homes.

K-$ hosted his first Instagram live broadcast featuring a Q&A with fans about his gender identity. In a digital interview with me, he explained that whether or not he spoke on the matter, the changes in his life were physical and apparent. “I couldn’t necessarily keep it a secret,” the prolific DJ explains. There would be a change physically; it is important for him to engage his followers and be his own representation in country where being queer brown man is ‘undesirable’.

The power of engagement

At the same time, even though minority and disadvantaged groups lobby for representation, the ability to engage is equally important. Not only should the LGBTQIA+ community be represented, ideally, there should be opportunity for positive engagement. “One of the first people I became friends with, that was trans, was online, on Instagram,” he explains.

Thus it comes as no surprise when he creates a dialogue around his experience after being someone who looked for information and wanted to engage. Watching him on Instagram is like watching the one-on-one scene of a reality TV show where the star sits in front of a blank screen. He sits in a room and candidly answers questions sent through from his following.

“I enjoy the positivity that surrounds the [Instagram] lives that I do. The first one will always be my favorite, but I’m looking forward to doing more.” – K-$, benevolently known as Kalo Canterbury

 

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