I recently left a comment on someone's blog about how I think gay African men and women should make themselves more visible, take more pride in their sexual orientation and speak up more than I thought they are currently doing. My view was that the lack of understanding of homosexuality by Africans is deepened by the fact that our sexuality remains a mystery to them; and that it is unsurprising that this would be so, given that most have never met or known anyone who identifies as gay. But it was swiftly brought to my attention by the author of that blog that in fact there has been a proliferation of LGBT blogs written by Africans within the last year, and that gay Africans are indeed speaking out, despite the hostility that surrounds them in their communities.
I was silenced and had no choice but to accept what was said, hastily retreating with my 'tail between my legs', since it seemed that I had failed to acknowledge the existence of the many blogs written by LGBT Africans. Also, I appeared not to have recognised that with so many gay Africans writing about their sexual orientation, information about homosexuality is becoming available to Africans in unprecedented volumes. It is important that this information is being provided by the gay Africans themselves. Information of this kind has hitherto been in short supply, but is now pouring into the public domain in a quantity that has never before been seen, much of it of good quality and of educational value. And this is of course a positive development, since much of the hostility that we see being demonstrated by Africans generally towards homosexuality, derives from a lack of knowledge and understanding, a situation that has arisen partly because many of the ideas and attitudes that Africans have imbibed over the years and especially since the inception of the colonial era were tailored in Europe, albeit in a Europe of the past; but also partly because gay Africans have held on tightly to their anonymity, fearing reprisals if they dared to expose themselves, reprisals that are possible only because the generality of the African population have been largely unaware of the truth about homosexuality..
I am a LGBT African person, but I am reticent to think of this as an LGBT blog. I'd rather want to see the blog as a place at which I come to express my views and thoughts about the things that I care about, yes, of course gay issues too naturally, since these are issues that affect me and other Africans who are like me. But taking the advice of others who started their blogs earlier than I did, my aim has been to broaden the scope of the issues that I write about, since in the process what I hope to achieve is to demonstrate that being gay does not necessarily imply that my mind is preoccupied only with thoughts about my sexual orientation. Also, while it is important that anyone who reads this blog knows that the author of the blog is gay and African, I think it is also important that the reader can tell that the author far from being angry about being misunderstood by his kinsfolk, is desirous instead of making evident the fact that he (and others like him) is an ordinary human being who, as with most people, is interested in the world around him and that he has to grapple with the everyday challenges thrown at us all who live in the modern world. Being gay is an additional challenge, but being misunderstood makes dealing with this added challenge even more arduous.
Akin is a fellow blogger whom I admire exceedingly. He is currently blogging from his hospital bed about the ordeal that he is going through, receiving treatment for cancer. I have been following his blogs and I feel close to him and feel as strongly about his condition as if I was physically present with him. It is the power of the blog I think, and how it enables one to express oneself in ways that were hitherto impossible. It is the way the blogger is able to express his thoughts and feelings and expose his mind to a wider audience than ever before possible, even those who he does not know or has never met. I've written this blog post in an effort to relax after a particularly rigorous two weeks at work. I tried the usual things when I got home this evening, a glass of beer, Chopin, Bach, Aretha Franklin..Nothing happened, and not until I came on here to type this blog post did the tension ease..