On The Gay Suicides in West Africa

31 May


One of the things I enjoy about science fiction books on robotics and artificial intelligence is that I get to explore what different writers think about the human behaviour in a different light and what they consider the most important aspects of being human. The eminent author Isaac Asimov put forward three laws of robotics in his robot series, the third law being that “a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws”, in other words a robot or being capable of rational thought should never place itself in a situation which would lead to its damage or demise except if it’s to protect someone. So it is with human beings: when we touch a hot object, we immediately remove our hands, when we see people who could harm us we avoid them but we would do anything to protect the people we love. To consciously take our own lives and override all the genetic and evolutionary mechanisms geared towards our self-preservation is an incredible act of will and conviction, indicating the strength of the internal turmoil that we are facing and are unable to handle.

I just heard through the ‘gay-vine’ that two young adults committed suicide this week, one in Ghana and one in Nigeria. Both of them chose to do this because they were outed and could not handle the stigma. The young man in Ghana was thrust into the situation when his neighbours found out he was gay and began to bully him. His last Facebook status reads: “It ends here…” In Nigeria, the boy’s mother discovered his sexuality, confronted and belittled him then proceeded to send messages to the boy’s father as well as other family members and their church pastor. Faced with the knowledge that everyone was about to find out something even he had not come to terms with, he chose to take his own life.

I feel for these boys and the distress they had to endure. When I began to come to terms with being gay, I  thought about suicide more than once as a way to take away the pain and confusion I was experiencing and if people had discovered about me then, I cannot say what I would have done. Suicide is something that I still think about have always been unwilling to talk about even here on this blog. I can certainly understand what these young men experienced while they were alive. If I could have talked to them before they chose to leave this world, knowing what I know now, I would have strongly discouraged them. Being outed may feel like the end but it is most certainly not. While I don’t have a lot of experience with coming out of the closet, I have a few friends who are out to their family (for most of them it wasn’t by choice) but many of them are financially independent and that makes a huge difference. The ones who are not are still alive and thriving. There is more to life, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.

I’m sad that they are gone. I’m disheartened by the fact that even their families could not support them at a time when these boys needed them the most. I wonder if there are really parents in Africa who would prefer a dead son to a gay son. I hope their souls find peace.


Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Uncategorized


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16 responses to “On The Gay Suicides in West Africa

  1. aguywithoutboxers

    May 31, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    My friend and blogging brother, I’m touched by this post. Any suicide is sad. I’ve experienced it within my own family. The suicides of young men due to their sexuality and the prejudices surrounding it are no exception. The basic fact that these men saw no hope for the future is disheartening. This is becoming a problem globally; our same gender loving brothers and sisters, feeling alone and isolated simply because of who they are. Thank you for this courageous and important reminder that we all need to reach out to others, because we never know what they are experiencing inside. We all have the potential for being the instrument in saving a life. Much love and naked hugs! 🙂

    • D.C.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      Thank you too. We all do have that potential and it is an honour and a blessing to be the one to help another find a reason to live. Not to do so as the parent of one who is struggling is unpardonable.

      • aguywithoutboxers

        June 1, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        Agreed, my friend!

  2. Minty

    May 31, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    I’m half WA and i can imagine the untold suffering these guys were facing that led them to take their own lives, possibly before they were subjected to heinous torturous ‘cures’ of deliverance or at least 10 years in prison.
    And i can tell you straight up; yes their are parents in Africa who would prefer their son dead than gay and in some case will have a hand in ensuring that it so.

    • D.C.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:03 pm

      It is indeed horrific.
      And sad.

  3. HillaryWhite

    June 1, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Reading this touched my soul. For their plight and for your own struggles. It also made me think..I don’t know you, you are someone out there in the vastness of the world. I wanted to shout out to you, “leave wherever it is that you are, come here where I live or go anywhere that people will love ad accept you for who you are!” Gay culture thrives in the cities that I live. It also made me realize I can do the same whenever I have my own feelings of self doubt and disconnection from my own people. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing this story. ❤

    • D.C.

      June 1, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      Thank you for the offer. Last month in New York, USA, one of the most gay-friendly places in the world, 10 people were attacked for being gay. Sometimes I wonder if there’s any place in the world where a gay man is safe..

  4. LGBTally

    June 1, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Really sad news. The ex-gay movement in some parts of Africa is truly scary, and does so much damage.

    • D.C.

      June 1, 2013 at 11:58 am

      One of the scary things about it is that it isn’t as organised as in other parts of the world, which makes one think that there is nothing like that. If I had a dime for every outed gay man that has been forced by family to marry a woman..

  5. jukk888

    June 1, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    It’s so sad, especially when I know there is nothing I can do to help.

  6. manleben

    June 5, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    it really saddens me to hear this. As person who has survived suicidal ideation, sometimes suicide is often viewed as the best way to end things. I remember when I “pseudo came out” (by asking “how would you feel if I was gay”) to my parents when I was 16/17 as I was really struggling with being gay and thought I was the only gay African in the world and I didn’t want to disgrace my family.I received some of the most hateful things ever said. My dad said he would literally kill me (via a gun) than have a gay child and my uncles agreed with him. My mother and my step grandmother all said I will go to hell and die and face god’s wrath. I was told being gay was un African and that I should stop emulating “western values”. I went through a period of depression and really hated my family as they spewed such hatred with strong convictions. I almost took my life one night but my best friend just happen to be there at the right time and talked me out of it. I am forever grateful and indebted to her.

    Stories about LGBT suicides always saddens me…

    • fundamentallyqueer

      June 6, 2013 at 3:35 am

      I have always considered asking my parents that same question, but the fear of hearing something as damaging as what your parents said overshadows even the fear of coming out to them. It’s interesting that people who have such a strong opinion on homosexuality based on certain values can so easily insinuate that they would kill their own child. Frankly I’m not sure what is worse, the fact that he said that or the fact ease with which he thought up the idea and utter such hurtful words…I feel for you my friend…i really do…you’re really brave

      • manleben

        June 6, 2013 at 9:24 am

        Thanks but I wouldn’t say I’m that brave. In retrospect, it was probably a daft thing to do at such a young age as they would have probably disowned or worse shipped me off to the motherland and secure some kind of religious intervention. Even though I’m finally secure on my own two feet, I still wouldn’t properly come out to them. If they somehow find out, I won’t deny it. And if they choose to cut me off, well I don’t live with them anymore so we can go our separate ways.

    • D.C.

      June 9, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      Like you, I have also questioned my parents on the sly on what their views on LGBT folk are and they are extremely reluctant to talk about it. I don’t know what it means. I’m glad I’m in a position that I can take care of myself. To be honest I doubt they’d do any of these things to you if you came out but I’m NOT saying you should do so!

      • manleben

        June 18, 2013 at 10:13 am

        Thanks but my family is certainly capable of doing such things. I’m not even exaggerating. After my first semester of being in Uni, I decided that I wasn’t going to be a doctor and my dad didn’t speak to me for almost 2 years and he also refused to pay for my tuition fees as a result…

  7. fundamentallyqueer

    June 6, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    I get you man. I get you


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