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Being gay, Christian and African

A 32-year-old Kenyan student, angered by a campaign in Cameroon "outing" top personalities for their alleged homosexuality, speaks anonymously to the BBC News website about his struggle to accept his sexuality.

Men holding hands
Homosexuality is banned in many African countries

When I was as young as 10 or 11 years old I realised that I was drawn more to boys rather than girls.

For a good chunk of my post-adolescence years I put it at the back of my head - I switched off that part of my life.

I have really struggled to accept my sexuality because I am Christian. A few people do now know that I am gay but I've never come out openly.

I told my mother two years ago and more recently my brother and they've accepted it, which is a great relief as there is a great fear when you come out to someone.

The first time I went to a gay bar in the UK I realised I could be who I wanted to be without any lies

I'm hoping to tell the rest of my family this year - Africa being Africa people expect you to be at a certain point in your life when you're settled down and married.

Although there are laws against sodomy in Kenya, there is a secretive gay scene in Nairobi - certain pubs and clubs.

However, because my faith is so pivotal to me, I've chosen to be single and to be celibate. I can't say I've always been successful - I am a human being, not perfect.

Guilt

For the last two years, I've been studying in the UK and the church in the West is a lot more accepting and has taught me to accept myself for who I am.

African leaders that believe homosexuality is unAfrican are like ostriches sticking their heads in the sand


It has been a sense of liberation, not only with the church.

The first time I went to a gay bar in the UK I realised I could be who I wanted to be without any lies - not having to pretend to pull some bird or something, I was just me.

Even so there is no denying that there is a feeling of guilt, which comes from the fact that you almost feel it's your fault, something that you did that made you gay.

It has been easier to come to terms with being gay in the UK because Nairobi is a much smaller society and people talk - the stigma associated with homosexuality does cut.

I really hate the way people run to the Bible just to justify their biases and fears. If they knew more about Christianity they would accept homosexuals or anyone else for who they are.

Personally, I wouldn't condone gay marriages because of my beliefs, but I must confess there are times when I really would like to be in a long-term relationship.

Seeking acceptance

As I prepare to go home, I've decide I'd like to come out openly because I would like to tell people that homosexuality is real.

Former president of Kenya Daniel arap Moi
Kenya's ex-President Daniel arap Moi denounced homosexuality

You don't have to embrace it, but acknowledge the fact it's there and that they're Africans - all races, all colours - who are gay.

If I've learnt to accept myself for who I am, other people will just have to learn to deal with their own struggles and their own challenges.

The same goes for African leaders that believe homosexuality is unAfrican. They are like ostriches sticking their head down in the sand and oblivious to the world around them.

After the outing campaign in Cameroon, I thought there was no way I would see acceptance of homosexuality in Africa in my lifetime.

But I am hopeful: when you look at how things have changed in Africa in the last 50 years, it will happen - it'll just take a long time.

Perhaps these laws banning homosexuality are a government's form of accepting it, but accepting it in the wrong way.




SEE ALSO
Jail term for Cameroon gay libel
03 Mar 06 |  Africa
South Africa to have gay weddings
01 Dec 05 |  Africa
Zanzibar imams halt gay wedding
13 May 05 |  Africa
Moi condemns gays
30 Sep 99 |  Africa

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