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At The Rubicon – How I Came Out At Work

team stockI never go out with work colleagues. Yes, it’s because of privacy issues related to gayness. I especially avoided it when in African cities. I realised quickly that the religious and conservative environment meant that often people could be singled out by their supervisors for things they did on the work night out or just in public and were seen. One of my colleagues ended up losing his job for something that was not even related to the company, something in his personal life that leaked.

However in the UK, it’s far easier. There is a certain feeling that everyone has been there and done that and people don’t really care who you shag or if you shag at all. And there’s a certain camaraderie that’s built up by those after work drinks.

I work in a female-dominated environment and they have all been very nice and easy to work with. We’ve had a few big nights. One of them in particular was so bad I had to be helped home. I had thoroughly underestimated their bar prowess and paid dearly for it the next day.

So on another night out, I was chatting with one of my colleagues when she started to get a bit flirty. At that point, I took a few minutes to gather up courage and then told her “Listen yeah, I’m gay.” She laughed and said “we all know!” I was stunned. I couldn’t believe my ears. I asked how she knew and she responded: do you not remember??

On the big night that I’d gotten so drunk, I’d told many of the coworkers that I was gay. I don’t even remember any of it. And so it had been passed on as part of the usual office gossip and was old news. I was the only one who didn’t know I’d been out at work for weeks. A few things suddenly began to make sense.  I’d detected a softening towards me from many formerly frosty members of staff that hadn’t been there before and now I knew why. For some reason I felt weird at work. It wasn’t that I was upset that I was careless with my private life – it’s legal to be gay in the UK and I knew my job wasn’t in jeopardy – this was all uncharted territory for me and I had never even considered telling work colleagues. All my energy so far had been expended in figuring out how to tell family with the plan that I’d work on work folk later should it be deemed necessary yet the reverse had happened.  Eventually I decided to let things flow and not overthink it. So far things have been good, no one has made anti-gay statements, made me feel uncomfortable or tried to set me up yet (thankfully!).

And the love and respect I have for my coworkers continues to grow in leaps and bounds.

 

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Sodomy In The News: The Gay Medical Doctor And The 16 Year-Old Student

Source: Daily Graphic www.graphic.com.gh

Source: Daily Graphic http://www.graphic.com.gh

There’s a news story making its way through the Ghanaian media about a medical doctor who had sex with a senior high school student and infected him with HIV. The major legal issue is that they had sex when the boy in question was 15 and therefore under the age of consent. Currently homosexuality is one of the most controversial and sensational topics that one will find discussed in the media and by the public and usually the LGBTIQ people involved are usually young, flashy and feminine gay men who are bold enough to come forward and speak their mind. This is the first time in a long time someone considered a ‘respectable’ member of society has been involved in such a story.  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Politik, Uncategorized

 

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The Melancholy for Can’t-Be and The Nostalgia for Never-Was

White Bouquet by Rotimi Fani-KayodeI met him online. His profile was empty and I was very wary in the beginning but we connected very quickly. He sent me some really interesting pictures – while he was good-looking, he seemed like he’d be comfortable in an office, outdoors or in a psych ward. Very versatile.  We finally met up for coffee and spent a couple of hours just talking. As he was leaving, he shook my hand then held on to my shoulder, rubbed for a minute like he couldn’t let me go and looked into my eyes. I froze. I have never been one for public displays of affection and when it comes to PDAs of the gay kind, I shut down entirely. But when he touched me, right in the middle of a train station, I felt like there was no one else there – only the two of us. I looked into his eyes and saw the longing I felt for him being returned. I didn’t want him to let go either. We met up for coffee many times after that and finally started dating. We both liked each other but neither was in a place where a relationship of any kind was possible, he because he’d recently come out of a relationship where his ex moved to a different country, and I because there are so many things going on in my life now that I am unable to settle down.

While I would never admit to it in public, I believe in the power of connections and would commit to something if I felt strongly enough about it. However like Lady Gaga once said: “If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Love is a Battlefield, Uncategorized

 

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An Awkward Telephone Conversation

Sex wordleYou know when a one-night-stand who’s left town for good calls you, it’s not going to be a good morning. That was exactly what I was thinking when a man I had spent a lovely night with called me on my way to work, effectively turning an already grey London morning even greyer. After exchanging pleasantries (it’s England after all), he told me he had tested positive for an STI and I should get checked out. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Mind, Body and Soul

 

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Life Sentences For Aggravated Homosexuality in The Gambia

no gaysJust after reading that the anti-gay bill was slowly making its way again in Uganda, it seems another African country has decided to go down that road.  The Gambia, the smallest continental African country known for its beautiful beaches, friendly people and infamous autocratic ruler Yahya Jammeh (of the ridiculous HIV cure) has passed a law that metes out life sentences for aggravated homosexuality – meaning having sex with someone who has been drugged, a minor (below 18 years), or with an IQ below normal. Currently gay sex in the country is punishable by a five to seven-year jail sentence. While The Gambian President is yet to sign it, I have little doubt that he will, after all this is a man who said on national television recently that : “We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively.” It’s quite interesting that The Gambia does deal out such sentences to men who sleep with underage girls or marry them. According to UNICEF, about 46.5% of girls are married before 18.

I’m not sure what this country plans to achieve with this new law. I’m not sure of the benefit to their president, seeing as he doesn’t have any major political opponents. If it’s to satisfy the Gambian people, I’m certain there other ways to do that besides attempting to control what some adults choose to do in their private lives with other consenting adults.

I keep wondering what I can do as an African gay man to stem this tide of hate.

 

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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“We Could Have Been Famous Friends”

While having a much-needed tea break in a nearby café just before closing, I ran into a friend and colleague I hadn’t seen in a few months. We’d become friendly after we collaborated on project but when the it ended and we went back to our departments, we never seemed to find the time to meet up. It was unfortunate as I enjoyed her company and she was one of the only gay people at work I was friends with. However I wasn’t out to her. She once described me as “the straightest” straight man she knew. While I was amused, I wasn’t sure I liked that description especially the frisson of pleasure I felt when she said it. Did that mean I was completely boring with no redeeming qualities? Was the fact that I felt some pleasure inside mean I was still clinging to the hetero-normative ideas of manhood and had a problem with feminine qualities I or other men possessed? Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Culture Shock 3.0 – On Being Gay in London

_61431723_pride1Whenever one moves to a new place, there’s a period that’s spent learning how the people do things and trying to integrate into the community. It’s very different from being a tourist in that place and London is no different. The learning curve was no joke. Knowing how important the things that are not said were just as important as understanding what was being said (in clipped, polite tones of course). I had to learn how to make friends all over again. A friend recently told me that she’s been in London for 15 years and she still doesn’t know how to make friends here (she’s from Paris). Aside from weathering the culture shock of a new environment, us gay people have to learn what’s acceptable in any gay society and how to fit in. It hasn’t been easy but it has definitely been fun and illuminating. Some of these may be slightly NSFW. Either that or I’m more prudish that I think: Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2014 in The Business of Living, Uncategorized

 

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