Featuring Author and Motivational Speaker Khanyisa Mnyaka

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Photos Provided By: Khanyisa

I had the opportunity to interview author, entrepreneur, traveler, and motivational speaker Khanyisa Mnyaka. Be sure to follow on her on Instagram @khanyisamnyaka.  My name is Khanyisa Mnyaka, 34 years old,  from South Africa. I identify as a strong, black, African lesbian. I have a BA degree in Psychology and an AM in Gender and Peace building. I’m currently living and traveling through Australia. My life is at its most peaceful when I have a trip planned :-). I’m an entrepreneur with established businesses in the Philippines and an author of Traveling While Black and Lesbian. 

**You are an author of a book called Traveling While Black and Lesbian? Please tell me what inspired you to write this book.  Also include where your book may purchased .
I absolutely love to travel. It has changed my life in so many ways; I’ve done things I never dreamt I could do in my life. However, everywhere I’ve been, black people are in the minority. I’ve gone to places where I was the only black person or one of the other three black people. I wrote the book to share stories about what it is like to travel as ME. How all my identities (black, lesbian and African) are perceived in the places I’ve had the pleasure of living and seeing. Navigating the world as myself is not always easy, I sometimes face prejudice for my blackness and other times for my sexuality. The book is a raw, truthful, vulnerable account of all of that; those fine places where the ugly meets the beautiful; the times where sorror seats at the edge of the bed when I’m cuddling with joy. 
Growing up in South Africa, in a very religious household; I was never exposed to people who look and love like me. I’m hoping that the book would find its way to young adults who find themselves struggling to marry who they are with who they were raised to be. 

**You travel a lot, so how do you like it? How did you get started?
I LOVE IT, I don’t see my life without it. It is truly the best gift I’ve ever given myself. I started in South Korea as an ESL teacher in 2010 and I haven’t stopped. 

**I viewed one of your videos and you were sharing how you love what exercising does both mental and emotional. How often do you exercise. 
I try to go 3 to 5 days a week when I can. It’s easier when I’m in one place but nearly impossible when I’m traveling. And yes, I think exercising is as useful for the mind as it is for the body; if not more.

**Congrats, on your YouTube Channel, please tell a little about that.
Thank you! I just wanted to share with whoever would listen about the stuff that happens to me, the lessons I’ve learn and my travels. I decided to call it “Un-churched with Khanyi” because a lot of the shame that I carried about myself came from church teachings. Unlearning what I was indoctrinated with weekly in church was a vital part during my journey of self love and self acceptance. Yeah, so I called it that :-).

**You are very big on mental health. Why is this such an important topic that you think needs to be discussed more?
I think it’s something that we need to talk about more within the black community. We have stigmatized asking for help when dealing with mental health issues and people end up not getting the help that they need. I know in my own life, it took a lot for me to admit to needing a therapist, and when a friend referred me to one, I realize I couldn’t have gone through what I was going through without her help (this is all in the book). My family still says things like “depression is a white people issue” and it has been difficult to have open conversations with them about my struggle with depression. We are a community of pretending things aren’t happening and I think it is time for that to stop. 

**You recently did a live video of your coming out story. (I hate I missed it)! What gave you the strength and courage to share your story?
Yo can still watch it :-). Like I said earlier, South Africa lacks visibility in the LGBT community. There is a box of what a gay man should look like and behave - same for lesbians. I wanted to share my coming out story and show that we aren’t all the same. We are people who happen to be same-sex loving. There is power in owning your story and sharing it with courage. When we hide, we confirm that there is something wrong with us. We are so lucky to be living in this world where we can create our own platforms and share our stories with those who might see themselves in them. 

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