A man

Where do I start?

The feeling of attraction I have for you, some will say is unnatural, especially in this part of the world where being attracted to someone of the same sex can get you prison time.
Let’s not even talk about the religion factor… Funny how Christians pick and choose which “rules” in the Bible to follow… But let’s be real, the majority of you had sex before marriage and most of you would rather drink Primus than water. Don’t give me that bull*** of Jesus changing water into wine, GENDA!
Before I go off on a religion is bull*** tangent – because I could literally write a whole memoir on this very FACT – let’s get back to the main purpose of this article: loving someone in secret and acting as if you’re friends, when you’re really lovers…

If you were to see me in the street, either in Bujumbura or in Europe where I studied, you would think that I’m just an average guy, with a good job and a girlfriend. But, this is not the case. I literally live my life in total secrecy. Only my very close friends (3 people, je vous aime) know of my sexuality. Honestly, I 100% believe that I was born gay. Now, this can be open for debate, whether Homosexuality is “nature or nurture”, but that’s just my stance on me.

As I get older and I have to attend more and more dowries and weddings of my friends, I feel like I’m growing more and more exhausted having to put on an act for this society that I live in. “When are you getting married?” As of lately, I’m growing more and more annoyed at these questions. The rebuttal that I have to sometimes hold back is, “Well you see, it’s illegal for me to marry my Dutch boyfriend of 2 years”, but the coward within me won’t dare even utter those words. I take the more jocular route and respond by saying, “My wedding’s next Saturday, karibu!”. This is usually followed by 15 seconds of awkward laughter until either I or the interrogating individual walks away.

Growing up, it was much easier to hide my sexuality; for all my fellow gays who’ve grown up in a conservative/religious environment similar to Burundi, you can relate. We must have a girlfriend in secondary school, why? Because if we fail to, we’ll be subject to the name calling. People claiming that you’re either not cool enough for a girlfriend or too ugly for one (the latter was never an issue for me) lol #imsexyandiknowit. If you were as fortunate as I was and could go abroad to a western country for University, this is where the experimenting really started. You started going out to the gay bars/clubs, hooking up with someone of the same sex etc… I’ll spare you guys the explicit details. No one back home realises what you’ve been up to. You tell lies to your parents and friends about how you’re dating some girl, but things “aren’t serious”.  In my case, I was actually dating guys, doing pretty well in all my classes and falling in/out of love every so often: let’s just say I wasn’t an angel while I was away at Uni haha, but I always made sure to play it safe ;-).

So I’m currently faced with a dilemma, I’m back home and I literally feel like I’m in a prison cell. My boyfriend moved here to be with me, after he found work. Things are going ok between us. We can’t really act like a couple, because Bujumbura is so small that news will spread like wild fire… “So and so’s child is dating a man! Can you believe that he’s gay?” If things continue the way they’re going, our love will soon be on death row. Which has left us no choice but to leave beautiful but suffocating and politically unstable Burundi.

But this time around when I do leave, I’ll leave truly free. No more prison chains for me. I plan on coming out to my parents, I feel as they have the right to know… for heaven’s sake they birthed me! To my true friends you already know. For everyone else? Love me or hate me, I’m still going to keep being me!

I’m tired of living and loving as if I’m serving a prison term for being who I am. I can’t do it anymore! To my Burundian people, open your eyes and see past the scriptures and the “norms” of society. It’s time to love one and another, regardless of your sexuality, religion or ethnicity, we are ALL one!

(Photo source: dominicannewsonline.org)