I woke up this morning to open a new chapter in my life for the world to read and embrace. I have decided to no longer live in a cocoon and openly express who I am to my family. I can easily tell them, but can I manage the reaction easily too?
I am a Gay Christian in Africa.
Last night, as I was wondering how to break it down to my family and the world, I asked myself which element came first, and which ones followed? Being GAY, being a CHRISTIAN or being in AFRICA? In simple logic, I was born in AFRICA, then I “ became” or was made a Christian, then I lastly became gay. What if I was gay before I became a Christian and I just was not aware of it? So I just decided to put it in a sequence of what I am first, being gay; followed by what I was indoctrinated to be, a Christian and lastly my continental location Africa.
So I am GAY CHRISTIAN IN AFRICA.
I am fine with being gay, very comfortable with it and find pleasure in it but my mother though. I wonder how she will handle this if she even chooses to. My mother is a Christian evangelist at our local church and the first daughter of two preachers responsible for one of the top five church denominations in the country. She just inherited her parents’ doctrine and “employment title” as I would like to put it. She has suffered the consequences for that for she has no personal life. People mind her business as a preacher and she minds theirs too for she directs the path of these people, especially the lost souls.
The consequences have also been transferred to me as people call me “the son of the preacher”. The stereotype individuals expect me to be straight up, to be somehow sinless though they know within their own Christian doctrine no one like that exists and I am the least person they expect to be gay.
Once upon a time, I had preached to church congregants about how the wages of sin is death, a Christian doctrine. They had also asked me about the wave of populism in the aspect of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender rights in the western media. I view such movements and if I support them. I lied. I told them I do not support such for it against our Christian doctrine and beliefs and whoever does such should be condemned and made to turn to the cross. I even opened scriptures that condemn homosexuality and how such signs were signalling the end of days. I “convinced“ them it was wrong though they knew it themselves, they just wanted “the son of a preacher” to confirm their thoughts. In all honesty, it was not me “the son of a preacher” telling them these words, but my mother telling them through me. I became a vessel of communication, which hated itself for being used against its own self-will. God forgive me.
I am a Gay Christian in Africa! My father is a strong African who believes in the “unhu/ubuntu” African philosophy. Though in some way there are aspects of this African Philosophy which go against his wife’s beliefs, they still managed to co-exist and build a family together. When I am not being “the son of the preacher”, and because I’m the only child – a male child for that matter -, he would take me to meet his brothers and friends who strongly believe in patriarchy for a blind reason.
He boasts of how he made his wife give birth to a male child, which is somehow a sign of sexual strength within their small belief. He would boast of how my first child will be named after him to carry on his “legacy”. But I ask myself, “What first child is he talking about?” Well, maybe being gay, I might adopt a child. It’s now legal, knowing very well our social welfare fund cannot look after children in their own care. It will be a pleasure for them me taking away a burden to look after it.
Once upon a time, whilst seated by what they would like to call “The Men’s Round Table”, I actively participated in a discussion of male circumcision and marriage. My father was absent, but he was informed of it and he was so proud of me that he killed the fattened cow for my achievement. The thing is, I had lied at the round table, just like I had lied on how Lesbian, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender movements were to be condemned.
I just vomited the words of my mother on the Lesbian, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender situation.
“Get circumcised for what?” I asked myself in bed.
I will not be bedding a woman; that I know very well. I am gay. I was going to honour my father’s wish of naming the child I adopt with his name to carry on his “legacy” but I would not put myself at risk by throwing my sexuality out of the window to please him. Spiritual Ancestors forgive me
So the line in the sand was drawn. My mother’s doctrine was against what I am, so was my father’s. So on whose side would I stand to push my agenda? I asked myself. The Lesbian, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender rights movements were on the media, especially western media, which my father would watch to get a balanced view of news different from the polarised state media we have in Africa. I knew the agenda of it was on his mind, so was in mother’s mind too. So at supper seated as a family the “modern way,” I asked them,
“What do you think of Lesbian, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender rights and would you tolerate such?”
My father answered first, “We raised you better than this and amongst African men you know how we view this.”
My mother answered, reinforcing my father’s words, “Your father is right, you know how God is displeased by such heathen ways.”
I gave an intra-personal reply, “Your son is one of them.”
Personally, I give praise to God and the Christian belief for what has been said in the Bible is true and I have seen it manifest before my very eyes at a personal level and to those surrounding me. But just because I have become aware that I am different does not mean the doctrine has to apply differently to me. I gave myself reassurance by the Biblical quotes that mention that God will always be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, a verse that mentions his love will never change and he loves everyone.
So no matter what my mother and her Christian believers would think of me or how they would treat me, God would still love me the same for in the process of being gay and fully realising it, God still did love me. I am still a Christian; it’s just one aspect or element that I have gone against because of what I am but in every other element, I am fine.
The spiritual ancestors, I also acknowledge them for working hand in hand with God and the Christian doctrine for looking after me and protecting me. The men’s round table which reflected male patriarchy would put me to death or chase me out of society once they would know of my status or what I have been all along, which they could not pick out due to believing in patriarchy for a blind reason. Couldn’t their all-seeing spiritual ancestors tell them what I was before they would embarrass themselves? By “themselves”, the men and the spiritual ancestors.
The spiritual ancestors were everywhere as I was told, so even if I was to be banished from the society, they would still look after me aided by God. I would still do offerings to appease them until they would accept. So I am a GAY CHRISTIAN IN AFRICA.
Today at breakfast before I sat down I said to my parents, “Father, mother, I am a GAY CHRISTIAN IN AFRICA.” Before I sat down, they had all stood up and walked out of the house. It was now house, not a home. But at least my spirit was free, and I discovered that air smells sweet.
After having breakfast alone, I went to the saloon. I got half of my hair dyed in blonde and pink. I proceeded to a spa, got my right hand manicured and adjusted with artificial nails in pink. I went to church, said my prayers and lastly to the shrine to thank both parts for giving me the strength to accept what I am.
Then I headed home.
As I entered our gate, I burst out in laughter for what I saw before me.
My father, his brothers, friends and some young men who were part of “the men’s round table” stood in front of me with axes, stones and stabbing spears as if they were about to go hunting or put to death a murderer.
My mother, the two individuals standing on the right side, blinded my eyes. I was not sure if I was amazed or shocked. My grandparents whom I had not seen for some time due to their busy evangelical schedule were there, holding the good book in their hands. So were church congregants.
I moved towards them and they moved towards me and I said: “Hello, I am a GAY CHRISTIAN IN AFRICA.”
After delivering these words, I turned my back and left to enter the wilderness to arrive to a promised land.
Asher Mutandiro is a final year student at The University of Zimbabwe studying Journalism and Media Studies.
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