Being gay is often described as one of the negative after-effects of colonisation. The residue of the hedonistic white man’s over-liberal approach to life, over-experimentation with things sexual and the downright sinful baseness of his mind. The African person who has gone on to exhibit any such traits is easily dismissed as having fallen culprit to the satanic wiles of the white man. The argument is simple: no such things exist or existed in our culture.
Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe (GALZ) Policy Coordinator Sylvester Nyamatendedza however disputes that point and alleges it is merely a defensive posture paying no attention to the facts on the ground.
Speaking at a media workshop focusing on minority sexual rights Nyamatendedza brings gays and lesbians into the home of the everyday African man with seemingly banal but cutting questions such as where are the gays in our society if we can’t see them? Who is related to any homosexual person?
The answer is a startling realisation that some of the challenges faced in relationships, marriages and families may actually be stemming from closet homosexuals squeezing themselves into heterosexual straightjackets society has carved for them.
“There have been instances down there in rural areas where LGBT behaviour has been seen but societal convention requires that people be silent about it. Once there was a case of two man who were caught in the middle of the act in a rural forest and when quizzed they said we are alleviating our hangovers”.
A member of GALZ who spoke at the event, Amin (not real name) says he never ‘downloaded’ anything from the white culture and actually began to realise his distinct difference from other boys whilst doing Grade 2.
” I just felt different and when with girls I don’t feel anything”, he says startling the gaping gathering of hot-blooded heterosexual journalists alien to cold feelings towards women.
His assertion is supported by research results done on gay man to see if there is any natural determinant for one’s sexual orientation.
Research conducted by the NorthShore Research Institute in the US found clear links between male sexual orientation and two specific regions of the human genome, with lead scientist Alan Sanders declaring that the work “erodes the notion that sexual orientation is a choice”.
The study is three times larger than any previously done and highlights two genetic regions that have been tied to male homosexuality in separate research: Xq28, first identified in 1993, and 8q12, spotted in 2005.
However, Sanders does not claim to have identified a single gene which ‘causes’ male homosexuality in humans and stresses that with complex human traits like sexual orientation there are many influencing factors, both genetic and environmental.
Speaking to the New Scientist , neuroscientist Simon LeVay commented: “This study knocks another nail into the coffin of the ‘chosen lifestyle’ theory of homosexuality.”
“Yes, we have a choice in life, to be ourselves or to conform to someone else’s idea of normality, but being straight, bisexual or gay, or none of these, is a central part of who we are, thanks in part to the DNA we were born with,” said LeVay, who previously claimed to have found a region of the brain that was smaller in gay men.
The religious side however has been emphatic in slamming homosexuality despite tales as the ones of Amin as one Pastor explains below.
“The Bible says that homosexuality is unnatural. Men in gay relationships have given up the natural use of the woman and women the natural use of the man.”
“For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” (Rom. 1:26-27).
“The Bible does not say that God changed what was natural. Neither does it say that nature, or the environment, or the culture, or his parents, nor did his birth genes change what was natural. It says that lesbians and homosexuals changed themselves. Yes, that’s right! The Bible says it is people who change their natural sexual desires in exchange for unnatural ones. The Bible sweeps away every argument, excuse and destructive reasoning for unnatural sexual activity. Some things are against nature, and therefore against God, because God created nature.”
“Homosexuality is not ordained by God, nor is it even biologically right or natural. People are gay because they choose to be–not because they can’t help it. It’s a choice in the same way I could choose as a sexually normal red-blooded male to go out and commit adultery. Being gay is a choice just like a heterosexual couple chooses to have children, or a man decides to remain celibate and enter the monastery, or a woman chooses to be a nun.”
“Men don’t say, “I can’t help being a monk!” Women don’t say, “I couldn’t help being a nun!” Just as normal couples make a choice to marry, or not to marry, have sex or not to have sex, have children or not have children, so it is with being gay.”
With such conflicting conclusions bordering him Amin is left at the peril of the abiding belief of the society which he lives in which in this case is an apoplectic derision for homosexuality.
Amin’s tale is a wretched drama of a conservative family caught in the glare of a strange seemingly outer planetary phenomena suddenly upon their indecisive and selves. Their response was to fight back their child.
“I have been to every church with my parents, going around all these new prophets, so that they could maybe take out the gayness in me. Nothing worked and we went to traditional healers but again nothing changed, in fact the experience became a journey into self discovery”.
” I began to realise that I was made in the image of God so there isn’t anything wrong with me”, he says.
Amin’s parents and relatives have however not received him with glee. The acceptance of his condition is the huff of the vanquished still searching for a way to hit back.
Having fallen to the misfortune of his picture appearing in a media publication Amin has relatives today with laminated printouts of the story which they use to blackmail him into doing acts against his inclination.
Today he has three kids, all below the age of 9, from arranged marriages created to make him fit into society. None of the two women with whom he had those children is still there. The marriages broke down a long time ago when the straightjacket failed to fit.
Asked if he has told his children, who are all girls, Amin says its too early.
“I’m waiting for them to grow up to a time when they have a bigger grasp of things so as to understand the situation”.
Listening to Amin’s tale one cannot escape the feeling of futility to the whole situation, the heavy weight of a people caught in something that is way beyond their heads.
For Amin it is a natural state and he engineered nothing and neither did the white man’s wiles get to him. He is just another pawn on the chessboard of life and changing himself is beyond his reach as it is beyond that of the actual wooden carved block of wood in a game of chess.
For his family life has coaxed up a shit-storm and they are blundering about enveloped on all sides in its sludgy hug. No amount of shaking will make it go away. They are now the butt of snide jokes in a society where their son’s condition equates him to a dog and the Head of State has managed to lap up universal love from all political sides only when he bashes people like their son. Their son is the crumby-cresting of the faecal cake everyone hates.
For his three unknowing children the dice has been rolled for them and the future isn’t looking good. They will grow up to realise that their father us one of a few kind but in a negative sense that may damage their childhood.