We all like to find explanations for ideas and behaviour we cannot understand or at least find someone who does. If we’re lucky we are educated by the people who actually know what they are talking about. Sometimes the people who are the most knowledgeable are unwilling to release their information (and with good reason!) It then falls on the rest of the people to come up with explanations to satisfy their unfulfilled curiosity. Occasionally these “observed phenomena” and attendant explanations are so bizarre that they are more entertaining than (mis)educative but some of them can be frankly insulting, especially when it comes to gay people. Unfortunately there are so few people who are out in our system (Narnia is a favourite travel destination among Africa’s gays) therefore there are lot of stories swirling around concerning gay people.
Here are the most interesting I’ve heard as well as my take on each one:
1. Most gay men are effeminate – Though I have many gay friends who consider the compact mirror the biggest thing since sliced bread, most gay men I have met are actually not feminine at all. However, being fem (and obvious) has its perks since these guys do tend to get hit on a lot (especially by married men); this has led to “straight-acting” guys dropping their wrists and being extra perky in bars and clubs to catch the eye of someone who isn’t sure whether his advances would be entertained (or rewarded with a bottle over the head). I’m don’t think this even needs to be said but not all effeminate men are gay.
2. Gay men are super strong and they use this strength to overpower and “force” their victims to have sex – Sharply contrasts with number 1 above, not even sure what to say about this one besides laugh out loud (which I did). This is my favourite. The absurdity of such an idea…
3. Gay men are possessed by the devil – So are people who eat shellfish and refuse to keep slaves I imagine. This is more of a Christian idea than anything else. So many gay men (and women) I know are really religious and won’t miss a Sunday service (the service may not proceed properly without them, seeing that they are frequently church workers or even ministers). As a matter of fact a couple of churches are known to be great places to meet gay boys and girls.
4. If a girl is not into a guy, she’s definitely lesbian – Which implies that all girls should find every single guy who comes after them sexy. This one reeks of a sore loser; some guys just can’t take “NO (AND FOREVER NO,YOU IDIOT)” for an answer.
5. Gay guys cannot have sex with women – Judging from my experiences this past years, there are as many gays in Africa that are married with kids as those who are single. A lot of gay men (not bisexual) I know got married to women this year. Even though the first year is tough I’ve heard, many still find time for their men on the side.
6. If you see two men holding hands in public they are most likely gay – This is a controversial one considering that in certain areas it is still acceptable for men to hold hands in public, sit on each others laps and not be gay. It is common enough that when I see two men holding hands in a place like Accra, my gaydar doesn’t twitch, not even a little.
7. Gay men love wearing pink and tight clothes – Thanks to the raging metrosexual movement, this flimsy fallacy falls fast from favour. Even man-bags which used to be considered “so gay” here are popular among straight men everywhere. The growing love of such bright and tight clothing by the straight community is one of the many reasons why it’s getting hard to tell who’s gay and who’s not.
8. Homosexuality was imported from the West – This has already been covered extensively here. It is also common knowledge that the major religions (as well as most “anti-gay” legislation) in Africa were imported but I don’t see anyone making moves to have them declared immoral, unconstitutional or “un-African”.
9. If the world turns a blind eye to homosexuality, the world’s population will die off – Seeing that the world now stands at 7 billion+ and this upward trend shows no signs of slowing down, I think this one is a hard sell. If anything, more children would be adopted and have better a better quality of life. In any case, nothing stops gay men and women from having kids in homosexual relationships – artificial insemination, surrogacy and others are still very viable options.
10. All gay men really want to be women – Another one of society’s grand explanations. Just because someone likes men does not make him yearn to be a woman. Granted there are one or two things I’d like to change – more inches (to my height), maybe dimples, a bubble butt (make that a few things I’d like to change), I don’t have issues with being a man and I don’t know that many gay men or women who would want to switch genders. Wanting to be a man or a woman(gender identity) is completely different from wanting to be with a man or woman (sexual orientation) and all possible combinations of both options can occur.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and there are countless other unusual ideas still being spread out there and quickly too. With all the attention being given to homosexuality in the media and the improved internet connectivity being pushed down our throats by the networks, I am amazed that most people do not bother to do a little reading before unleashing their ignorance on the rest of the population. I’ve observed that many of the moronic anti-gay statements that I read or hear come from people with post-graduate degrees who position themselves as bastions of world knowledge.
On another note, I wonder if these are the questions I will be answering should I choose to come out to my family.
I hope I’ll be able to keep a straight face..