When I started this blog, I was not sure what the blog would be about. I knew that my mind was bursting with thoughts that needed to be expressed and that there were a lot of things I wanted to say. I thought of the blog as a platform from which to speak my mind about issues that matter to me. Recently I found myself filling out a form sent to me by a group that was conducting a survey of professional people living in London. The form required me to tick a box if I was male, (tick), black, (tick), black African, (tick), then I got to the section on sexual orientation and gender identity. "Do you identify as male or female?" I thought I had already answered that one when I ticked the 'male' box earlier? Anyway I ticked the 'I identify as male' box, then came to the next question, "Would you describe yourself as 'heterosexual', 'homosexual', bisexual' or 'other'?" This was easy. Ticking the 'homosexual' box, I couldn't help wondering what the option 'other' would relate to. But in a strange way, it felt good that I was able to categorically tick the 'homosexual' box, declaring emphatically what my sexual orientation is. On this blog, I wanted to discuss my homosexuality too.
Being gay has never been a problem for me. Naturally, as with many gay people my teenage years were emotionally turbulent. Living in modern day Africa where society affords no support for its young members who are struggling with sexual feelings they can't explain, and where in fact having such feelings is roundly decried, and especially as this was in the 70s and early 80s when information concerning homosexuality was not readily available to the young African person, it was not easy to grapple with the notion that one was different from everyone else that one knew. But at the same time, even in those youthful days I realised that these were feelings over which I had no control. So I vigorously rejected any temptation to suffer guilt or shame about my sexual feelings, as this was clearly something that I should not and could not feel ashamed or guilty about.
I fell in love for the first time at the age of 15. He was younger than me by one year. It happened so naturally and the relationship was so beautiful and emotionally fulfilling that it helped me to accept myself and helped to convince me that this is who I am, a male who is physically and emotionally attracted to males. That was perhaps the happiest time of my life, young and carefree, when the major worry in life was getting on with academic work at school, and life was devoid of all the bothersome matters of responsible adulthood. We both were at the same boarding school, but even during the school holidays we had ample opportunity to spend a lot of time together. In fact the holidays offered more opportunity for us, because we needn't worry about being discovered by other students. We would spend long hours together walking arm in arm on the golf course. One part of this golf course ran between the street where his house was located and my street; indeed from my street at my end of the golf course I could see across the grass, the sand and the holes to his house on the far side.
And this lovely place was the scene of many a pleasant memory that still lurk in my mind even today. Me and him side by side, meeting up on the golf course at sunset, holding hands, in the darkness, talking, feeling the body warmth of each other, whispering words of love, lying on the soft grass, together, kissing, loving, wondering what the future held for us, worrying about whether our families would find out about us, what their reaction would be if they did, pressing our bodies together in a tight embrace, enjoying each other in ways that was impossible with any other person. Looking back now, anyone who had seen us together on the street or anywhere, would have assumed that we were just two teenage boys fooling around, whereas the actuality was that we were lovers and the love fire that was burning between us was real and was mind blowing.
The wide open expanse of the golf course which was completely deserted at night time, provided us with the perfect setting for our intimate romantic encounters in the warm, dark African night, under the moon and the stars, away from prying eyes and out of sight of our curious and inquisitive siblings. Our times together were absolutely marvelous and the relationship subsisted for years, until I graduated from that school and moved on to university in another city. And even then, we still kept in touch, writing love letters to each other. And whenever I visited home from university, we would pick it up again. This relationship persisted until we both became adults and we remain friends to this day. We had grown up together and articulated our same-sex attraction and feelings jointly. We had shared our fears and our desires, and ideally we would have eloped to some far off island where we could live together happily forever. But we were both more realistic than that and had our feet firmly planted on the ground, enough to know that the reality for us was not going to be so fairy tale-like.
Of both of us, I was the more defiant one. He was unsure what the future might bring and he would fret and worry quite a bit. Whereas I, even at that young age, was certain and knew quite definitely that I would not allow my life to be hindered because some other people were unimpressed with my love for the male gender. My experiences of love and happiness in this world, in this one life that we are given to live, were not going to be impeded by the prejudices of others and I was determined to stand my ground! And it seems that I have been consistent in my attitude, since unlike many other gay men including my first lover, I have never at anytime pretended to be anything other than gay, even if I don't see the need to wear it on my shoulder or shout it through a megaphone.
I'll continue with this post shortly when I've composed myself sufficiently. Pardon me.