Myths about Gay Africans

 

1) We’ll never have children.

Custom has it that Men are to have a family and continue the legacy in which one would inherit. As a fundamental aspect of identity and culture, this is a priority for any man to be able to secure a living and start a family. Some even regard this as a way to ensure a nation’s future. The unfortunate part of this expectation for gay men is that this immediately occupies the minds of family members, after processing that one happens to be attracted to people of the same sex. Unconventional ways of having a child are often taboo and frowned upon – but its a possibility.

 

2) We were influenced by western people/nations.

A lot of anti-gay talk results in the conclusion that gay African men were influenced by western nations. That it is a foreign ‘culture’ that only recently started being a trend amongst men. Unfortunately they tend to forget that some derogatory terms in native colloquial came as a result of “such things” occuring amongst grown ups.

 

3) We made a choice.

More often than not, when logic goes out the window, many homophobic people justify their arguments or stance against gay men on the possibility of us making a choice to be gay. Granted there could be chances in which one chooses to try out some form of physical or internal engagement with regards to other men, but to what extent would such an individual freely express themselves (if they’re more feminine?) at the risk of continuously being targeted in hate speech, stigma and other forms of violence?

 

4) We don’t believe in religion.

Setting aside the difference or significance in which homosexuality is granted in issues of sin, there is a consistent assumption that gay men cannot be religious. This is a deeply flawed assumption that often leads to the justification of why gay men cannot be treated like other human beings, or why love, peace and tolerance cannot be the first point of reference when it comes to people who are different, in opinion, appearance or whom they engage with at an intimate level.

 

5) We’re abnormal

There is always a history with regards to marginalising a segment of society and usually its coupled with the conclusion that that segment is not “normal”. At some point, black people were not considered normal, circumcision was not considered normal, interrelationships, albino people and even people with disabilities were never considered normal. Now you can walk around and share the same restaurant as a mixed race couple, now people with disabilities can access the same buildings/services/products as others and circumcision is considered a preventative measure for combating HIV/AIDS. This is the same perspective that the human rights based approach to “key populations” directs, that with decriminalisation (whether a nation is ready for it or not), would enhance access to health services, provide protection from discrimination and encourage a better understanding for diverse people.

 

6) We’re all about sex.

Gay people have sex too, others abstain and others prefer to wait till marriage (even if it takes a lifetime). This is not because they are gay, but like all other people of any sexuality (inclusive of heterosexuals), they have needs, urges of attraction and emotions to feel for those that might interest them – because they are human.

 

7) We’re from broken homes.

Many people assume that gay men somehow come from divorced, “incomplete” or single parent families. In addition, there is an assumption that one must have been surrounded by girls and the establishment in which that person is from is marred with some form of abuse. This is unfortunate as human nature tends to try an diagnose what is different or inconceivable in one’s mind. Understandably, one would want to grasp the concept in the only way they know how to – to each his own, but this serves as an insult to a gay man’s loving family as if they must have played a role in how their child would come out. I have never heard of a heterosexual man being straight because his family taught him how to be or somehow might have the best upbringing even under the same conditions (single-parent/divorce, etc.)

 

8) We want to be women

Understandably, there are men who walk around with make up, feminine gestures and forms of expression. No I am not talking about those who might be in front of a camera or those who are at the forefront of religious expression. I mean those who happen to be gay. The assumption is that one would want to be a woman because of these aspects. In this day and age, one would be able to have surgery to appropriately correct the way they see themselves, or even ensure to be addressed as appropriately as possible. I understand that there might be difficulty in understanding trans issues and those surrounding sexuality – but a man that is attracted (emotionally and physically) to another man is just that, a man attracted to another man. If a heterosexual man were to loose his penis in a freak accident, it would not make him any less of a man, just as if one were to loose an arm/leg, they would not be any less of a woman. Gay men do not identify themselves as women.

 

9) We are confused

Many statements circulate, even from those who accept or tolerate gay men, and these include: “Its a phase”, “They don’t understand themselves”, “they don’t know what they are missing” because they are confused. In as much as its a better alternative to violence or discrimination, the respect accorded to a man who is promiscuous, who’s seen cuddling a lady in public or who got a woman pregnant should be the same as that afforded to a gay man. There can be no confusion in undressing and engaging with someone of the same sex, in your mind or in physical form.

 

10)   We’re going through a phase

The only phase I have known of is the attempt to clarify the kind of partner you would want, temporarily or for the long haul – just as any other person who years for a companion. This can obviously change and just as the types of women a man might be attracted to and engage with, so are other men with regards to those of the same sex.

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