“I suppose that a lifetime spent hiding one’s erotic truth could have a cumulative renunciatory effect. Sexual shame is in itself a kind of death.” – Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
“Are we breaking up?”
“LOL! No Jay*, you and I will never “break up”; we’re only breaking free.”
“But I can’t be seen with him! You’ll still be coming with me, right? I mean, Maurizio* is amazing but.. I can’t…they’ll..they’ll eventually figure it out”
“It’s about time they figure it out dear.. I mean, we’ve put up a crazy nice show for them, why don’t we unveil whom you truly are? Besides, you can’t hide forever…and if you ask me, you’re one of the cutest, smartest, most successful and most amazing men in the world, what’s the shame for..what do you care..what do you hide for?”
“My job Eva! My family… I”l lose all of those and I’ll be reduced to nothing… I’ll be reduced to nothing..nothing…” *breaks down*
No, that’s not a creative piece of literary work I am composing, that is an excerpt from the story of my life.. No, not a story really, I mean..the actual thing! And I am well aware that I’m not breaking news to neither you nor the next person when I say that the world is absolutely crazy, so much so that I marvel at persons stubbornly clinging on to the fading notion of normalcy whatever your inclinations of the same might be! So, yeah Jay* is a great friend of mine who is just vulnerable to the world far as matters his sexuality. When I would simply refer to him as a born stunner and outright genius, most of the people will be keen to throw in the fact that he is a gay person. Well, that’s not so much my issue, gay happily be him! My issue is, does it really have to matter as much as the world lets it matter? No really, does it?! Forget the fact that he is a 28 year old regional manager of a great corporation in the region, forget he is one of the kindest persons I’ve known, forget he is a lovely son, an amazing friend,a great lover to his boyfriend, even forget the fact that most of you who have met him, but know not of his sexual orientation, secretly want his life and listen in awe when he graces podiums to address large gatherings… Of all those amazing characteristics, his sexuality has to be that much of a deal? But why?
It was just yesterday when I was scrolling through my homepage on Facebook when I stumbled upon a shared photo of one of Kenya’s newspaper’s front page and was first struck not by the faces of the alleged “top gays and lesbians” in the public domain (for the life of me I couldn’t care any less who’s gay, crooked,straight or plain confused!), but by the foolishness of the people who let such non-sense take the front page of a national newspaper! No really, if that is is not grade- A stupidity, Lord forgive my ignorance, I do not have the right vocabulary for it..yes,even after going through the infamous 8-4-4 system! They didn’t teach that stuff in school..I guess!! I mean, you live in a country that is still struggling with curbing the rising number of deaths occasioned by a straight-out-of-hell Cholera outbreak, a country whose roads are being washed away by the floods, a developing nation struggling with meeting the Millennium Development Goals and fighting terror, yet the small platform you’re given to address issues of great importance such as these and many others on a national level you waste people’s valuable time on telling us about who likes persons of the same sex as theirs?! How dare you! What a shame!
See, I naturally get worked up when I see people giving things that should not matter such great relevance. It all makes me wonder: when will this homophobia in Africa end? When will we, Africans, give the things that actually matter the attention they require and forget whatever is going down behind the closed doors of so-and-so’s bedroom? This African mentality and self-righteousness, don’t y’all know it’s just but a prison partly of our own making and partially a colonial thing? When will Africans break free and attain real freedom?
Out of 54 countries in the continent of Africa, 38 criminalize homosexuality. Studies on attitudes towards homosexuality show that Africa, generally speaking, is opposed to the notion that society should accept homosexuality.
I am more inclined than not to believe that just like many other Pan-African trends and collective beliefs, homophobia is deeply rooted in the colonial era. It is not an African thing this one… But how will I defend mama Africa when what I assert has better standing in theory than in practice? I will however stand my ground: this homophobia thing is largely western than it ever will be African! It is the colonial masters who invaded Africa and imposed the so-called sodomy laws across the continent. The aftermath was an annoyingly homophobic society. But then again, Africans are to blame for still hugging on to detrimental beliefs and trends long after the Colonial masters have left the continent and gone ahead to let go of the same trends after realizing that the same offer much disservice to their societies than good! Then I am left with the image of Africa posing as a jilted lover, a weak girl, still clinging onto a love that’s long departed and now wearing new shoes.. dancing to better beats! Let go already..let go Africa and either dance to the beat of your own drummer or join in your ex-lovers’ beat! The former will earn you respect, the latter will leave you a lot more broken and scarred – choose wisely!
It does not matter if you want to open chunks of Bible or Qur’an chapters and read them out aloud to me, I will still remind you that that too, is yet another proof of an indoctrinated Africa! Religion is beautiful, but when it turns humans against humans, I call it collective madness, a dangerous thing that people of proper thinking ought to embrace cautiously if not shun completely! Look, Christian I may be, but my understanding and interpretation of the same is purely premised on love. Love and reverence for a higher and all-mighty supreme being, Love for myself, and love for my neighbor (and that is humanity in general if you ask me). Anything else that goes against the basic notion of love, anything else that does not worship at the alter of love and respect, I cannot prescribe to. I have often said LOVE IS MY RELIGION, and never have once joked when I uttered such words! So when I hear of this denying of human rights to a section of humans on grounds of them being uncommon, I call it non-sense, I call it grade A stupidity! I strongly condemn homophobia for it is not only primitive, it is ought-rightly inhuman too!
At this juncture I will borrow the beautiful words of Dan Pearce:
“My request today is simple. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. Find somebody, anybody, that’s different than you. Somebody that has made you feel ill-will or even hateful. Somebody whose life decisions have made you uncomfortable. Somebody who practices a different religion than you do. Somebody who has been lost to addiction. Somebody with a criminal past. Somebody who dresses “below” you. Somebody with disabilities. Somebody who lives an alternative lifestyle. Somebody without a home.
Somebody that you, until now, would always avoid, always look down on, and always be disgusted by.
Reach your arm out and put it around them.
And then, tell them they’re all right. Tell them they have a friend. Tell them you love them.
If you or I wanna make a change in this world, that’s where we’re gonna be able to do it. That’s where we’ll start.
Every. Single. Time.”
And to Jay*, and all other “Jay*s in the world, Mahatma Gandhi once said, “healthy differences are often a great sign of progress”. Well, I concur with him, and just how boring this world would have been, if we all were same?! May you all be bad enough to dance to the song only your heart can hear! Be bold and unapologetic about whom you are!
As for the homophobic ones, well, I will echo the words of one Dorothy Parker, heterosexuality is NOT normal, it is just common!