Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Something Like a Phenomenon

First of all, I’d like to make one thing absolutely clear. I’m straighter than the shortest distance between any two given points, and I’m not talking geometry. So should you ask me if I’m gay after reading this, you’d better either be mistaking me for a little girl’s emotional disposition, or be sure that you have sufficient hospital insurance. Lengthy in-patient hospital insurance
That said, let’s begin.

Sometimes, you happen upon signs and indications that seem to demand you get off your behind and do something you wouldn’t otherwise consider as warranting expeditious execution. Should you choose to ignore them, these signs then suddenly start getting more and more frequent and insistent until you eventually comply.

A while ago, I was a victim of this phenomenon, which apparently wanted me to write about homosexuality.

There are things that when confronted with under normal circumstances, I would consider not doing, think about it three times and then NOT do them. Obviously, this was one such thing, but I wasn’t really worried because writing is not my main hobby, (my main hobby is spending copious amount of time doing absolutely nothing,) and I figured I would simply ignore the phenomenon and it would go away.
But trust the resourcefulness of this phenomenon to find its way around such little hurdles.

At the time, I was young, impressionable and had become convinced of the immeasurable worth to be found in propagating the myth that I am a really happening dude, especially while dealing with impressionable damsels for whom I must confess an incurable weakness. Under the grip of these urges, I sought advice on how to become a happening dude, and was informed on authority that the possession of sophisticated mobile gadgetry is nowadays the main indicator for happening dudes worldwide.

My authority on happening also told me that my Nokia C2-03 doesn’t ooze the kind of sophistication that indicate basic happening quotient, so armed with this information, I wheedled HR for an advance and quickly upgraded from a Nokia C2-03 to a Blackberry Pearl.
To increase my happening quotient even more, I decided to pimp up its screen with an off-the-hook wallpaper, because my authority on happening had also told me that cool wallpapers on sophisticated phones are a riot with happening dudes in all continents of the world, including Africa. He also told me that the cream of happening would be to sport a rock music-themed wallpaper, so naturally, I sought a Rock-themed wallpaper for my phone.

Well, this phenomenon, it seems, had somehow been made aware of my juvenile pursuit of social popularity; and this was exactly where it first came for me.
For my wallpaper, my authority suggested two Rock artistes, Serj Tankian of the group System of a Down and Billie Joe Armstrong of the group Green day. I sampled their music and liked Serj better, but I found him to be, for lack of a better description, an aesthetically-challenged guy and not exactly the face you want on your phone if your intention is to hoodwink the public into believing that you were somewhere near the front row when dudes were being taught to happen. Therefore, the more worldly-looking Billie Joe [who by the way has the most hypnotic eyes you will ever see on the human male species,] got the nod.

I raided the internet for free Billie Joe Armstrong wallpaper, but as I was browsing, I mistakenly googled up the wrong alley, and instead of going to the freebies page, I landed on Billie Joe’s Wikipedia bio. Obviously, my curiosity was sufficiently aroused for me not to go away without first browsing through it, and as I did exactly that, I happened across a curious bit of information I’d hitherto been unaware of.
Apparently, Billie Joe Armstrong is bisexual.

As you would expect, that shocked the living daylights out of me. But, I reasoned, I had not enjoyed Billie Joe’s music because I was under the misconception that he is a poster boy for conservative sexual values. Rather, I liked Billie Joe because he makes the kind of music that makes me want to have him as my wallpaper image. So with a shrug and a “well, you learn something new everyday!” I accessed the right page, got his wallpaper and forgot all about it.
But the phenomenon didn’t.

A few days later, I was checking through the music files on a friend’s computer when I came across an all-time favorite song of mine that I haven’t heard in quite a long while, “Everyday I love you.” By the Irish boy band Boyzone. Immediately, I recorded it on my phone’s voice recorder and temporarily replaced the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s ‘Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing’ with it as my morning wake-up alarm.

That little incident would have been nothing but a very innocuous event of my day, but three days later, I was woken up by that very alarm, and as I started my daily morning ritual by catching the early morning news on TV, I got stunned by reports that one of Boyzone’s members, Stephen Gately, had mysteriously died the previous night while holidaying in Spain.

Stephen Gately, for the ignorant, forgetful or otherwise uninformed among you, was the Boyzone band member who during the height of their popularity in 1999, famously came out of the closet to publicly admit he was of homosexual orientation.
So this was the second time in two days that I was being confronted by a reminder of homosexuality, and I found that a tad bit intriguing. But once again, I made nothing of it and only wished Allah’s compassion and grace upon the soul of Stephen Gately before relegating all thoughts on the subject to whatever section of the brain it is that things to be forgotten are kept.

But the phenomenon, of course, was having none of that.
The next day at work, a colleague requested for a couple of documents I had in my possession tucked away with some old files at home. I have certain designs on this colleague, so I promised I’d give it a check when I got home that evening. [And since that is about as much information as I am willing to volunteer on the matter, please spare yourself the trouble of asking what those designs are.]

That evening as I went through my old files to find the requested documents, I noticed two sheets of typed paper I vaguely remembered putting there some time back. On closer inspection, they turned out to be the draft copies of an article I had written after a clandestine interview a couple of years before with a guy I met under circumstances I am not at liberty to divulge. I remembered I’d later chickened out of submitting the article to my editor because I was afraid of the reactions it would likely have elicited had it been published.

The subject of the article? An anguished, candid lament of a man leveled against a society and a government that shuns him…because he is gay. Well, if I had earlier been skeptical about the phenomenon being up to something, finding that article emphatically and totally wiped out every little shred of it.
So, phenomenon, you win. Here goes nothing!


I pay my taxes. I see to it that Nairobi is kept clean by never littering. Like most Kenyans, I think Al Shabaab should have stopped at only hiding behind bushes and never gone ahead to start smoking the leaves from those bushes they hide behind. I have my own stereotypical perspectives on the different ethnic communities that make up my country, and I shed a tear when I got the news of Hon Mutula Kilonzo’s passing.
I have my beef with several Mpigs in our national assembly, especially Mithika Linturi, Aden Duale and Jakoyo Midiwo, and given the chance, I wouldn’t hesitate to introduce the longest electricity poles I can get hold of up their nether orifices of their anatomies. The level of corruption in our government sickens me, and I am generally appalled by the state of public service delivery. I hold His Excellency the President in the highest esteem, and although I did not vote for him in the March 4th elections, I love my country and honestly wish him well in its stewardship.

What I am trying to put across in so many words is simply that I am your average Kenyan, maybe not manifestly patriotic, but one who possesses a deep and enduring love for his country and wouldn’t shudder at shedding hemoglobin-rich blood for it.
But that said, I believe the relationship between the individual and the State should be reciprocal, which is to say it should be two-way. This reciprocity doesn’t have to be balanced, but it should be clear and present on both sides. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was right to implore us to seek to do more for our country than we expect our country to do for us, but that doesn’t mean that a State shouldn’t seek to do more for its citizens than its citizens do for it.

So I seek as much as possible to benefit my country in whatever way I can and I follow the law to the best of my ability, but I also expect the State and the law to guarantee me a conducive environment as I go about my lifetime purpose of seeking fulfillment. So long as my pursuit of fulfillment does not infringe upon the basic rights of another individual or occasion potential for harm, I should be left alone to do what I damn well please with my life, taking responsibility for any reward or jeopardy my activities might lead me to.
It is upon this premise that I level my charge against the Republic of Kenya.

You see, I am a little, shall we say…different from conventional preference when it comes to my choice of sexual partnership. People like me are the kind Leviticus 18:22 has a problem with, as does a very huge fraction of Kenyan society.

My life, as you would expect under the circumstances, has never been easy. People conversant with my orientation never tire of treating me like an outcast, a pariah, an abomination. I have been called more names than a Mexican child at baptism, only unlike the Mexican child, none of the names I’m called are flattering or meant to flatter. I have been attacked more times on the street than American interests in Afghanistan, and my existence is a constant struggle.

But that, believe it or not, is the least of my worries. Most of the people that do all they can to make life hell for me are no match for me physically or intellectually, and those I can’t beat the living crap out of I silence with a withering stare. What they think or how they go about expressing what they think has no bearing whatsoever on my life, and I find it absurd that I should even consider according them anything but the overwhelming contempt they deserve.
The State, however, is a different proposition altogether. Whether I like it or not the State will have a bearing on how I live my life or how I accomplish my pursuit for fulfillment, and it saddens me to observe that people of my kind, upon no rational bearing whatsoever, have been failed by the State.

Right from the grassroots, our right to be human in the only way we know how has been curtailed. Despite our orientation being natural, it is illegal in the eye of the law to be homosexual, and the government is actively involved in persecuting us on the slightest whim.

It is not that I do not understand why the larger section of Society is uncomfortable with us. All of us have a sense of what is right and likeable or what is wrong and not likeable, and most of us have learnt to not like homosexuality, I acknowledge their right to not be exposed to what they don’t like.
However in the olden days, and even in some contemporary societies, persecution of lepers, albinos, hermaphrodites and even twins in some was actually institutionalized in the belief that these people’s peculiar traits made them bad omens and therefore outcasts. It was only due to a paradigm shift borne of better understanding of such people that such archaic beliefs were eventually discarded.

This is exactly what I’m calling upon the State to facilitate in order to deal with our situation—initiate and spearhead a paradigm shift on how we view those among us that are different.

As for those in society who hate us for our orientation, until they come up up with rational argumentation as to they are opposed to people like me, then it is only right that I treat their concerns with the negligible amount of respect due to them.

And if any such rational argumentations are forthcoming, the argument that homosexuality is unchristian shall be treated with the kind of respect villagers normally reserve for the local market madman. Since when have we been so zealotic in promoting Christian values? Do not kill, the Bible says. Then what are all those guns Uganda spends billions of taxpayer money on for? Private collections and target practice? Do Not Commit Adultery. How much sex that goes on in this country is actually between people whose names appear on the same marriage certificate? Do Not Steal. Hands up anyone who believes government corruption is a myth.
Also ripe for contemptuous dismissal will be the argument that homosexuality is unAfrican. I mean, why don’t you go after those who designated the decidedly unAfrican English language as our‘National’ language while you’re at it? Why don’t you google the origins of the clothes everyone wears, the religion everyone subscribes to, or the kind of entertainment everyone prefers, and the discriminate on the basis of how African each is? Basically my point is, if we are going to be hypocrites, then at least we should be consistent in our hypocrisy

To cut to the chase, most of us did not choose to be how we are. Believe me, if I could, I would change my sexual orientation faster than Usain Bolt in the jungle with a hungry tiger on his behind. But that is just how we are, and living with the knowledge that we are different is hard enough as it is. I really wish society and the State would understand us and accept us for who we are.
But if that is too much to ask for, then all we ask for is to be left the hell alone.