Thursday, November 20, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My estranged father and I.


Well he didn't really say that. My father that is. But I do love my homophobic father though. Even after almost two years of absolutely zero contact. Yeah, so I was talking to my mother and we were just blabbing about this and that and then she mentions that he (my father that is)had been crying non stop lately. According to my mother, he has been feeling remorseful for our falling out. Right, so just briefly, this aunt of mine (my father's sister) whom I have never been fond of and she knows it, decided to "out" me to my father on her last trip back to Africa. She actually never got to say anything since I beat her to it. I didn't want my father to find out from someone else. The right thing to do, right? Well not quite. He basically wrote me off and said in no uncertain terms that no son of his can possibly be gay. And that as the head of the family (whatever the f_ck that means) he couldn't allow it. Allow? I shouted. Of course I cussed him. Just kidding. I simply told him to go to hell. Long story short, we haven't spoken ever since. That is up until this past Thursday when my mother told me how miserable his life has been for the last eighteen months. I asked her to put him on the phone and of course like the macho, controlling African man that he can't fail to be, he asked me about school and work and my sisters and all that except the yellow elephant in the room. Ugh! I was glad to hear his voice though. We didn't talk about anything that actually matters. Well not that my sisters and work and school don't but...Yeah so I was thrilled by the fact that we even talked at all.

He asked me to call him again next week, and I will. But I know that we won't be talking about my sexuality anytime soon. Oh well. Ç'est la vie!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yet another homophobic article in Rwanda's NEWTIMES


So I was at work, right? Bored out of my mind and I decided to browse Rwanda's NEWTIMES (the newspaper provides valuable information as to what's happening locally and for a homesick fellow like myself, this can sorta ease up the pain). So I stumbled upon yet another homophobic article from March 08 and I decided, yet again, to respond. The ridiculous article can be found here.

Of course I was all hot and bothered and immediately fired off an e-mail to the editor and cc'd both authors of said article. I have yet to hear from them. I'm not holding my breath though, since they never bothered to respond to an earlier similar letter that I had sent to them. My e-mail follows:

Sent: May 29, 2008 3:44 PM
To: 'editorial@newtimes.co.rw'; 'letters@newtimes.co.rw'
Subject: Re: Homosexuality in Rwanda? Yes, it lives


Good day,

I’d like to challenge some of your claims in an article in your March 2008 issue, and I dare you to read the entirety of my argument.

You claim that “…Homosexuality however, goes against nature and African culture. No wonder it has received enormous condemnation in most African countries especially in black Africa. And various African heads of state have condemned it.”

I’ll start with homosexuality being “unnatural”

This is an argument that many bigots like yourselves have used for decades now. I don’t know if any of you are well read in matters of human sexuality. You obviously aren’t since you apply “choice” to human sexuality and gender identity.
This is no more true than choosing your ethnic background, your race or even the color of your eyes. For you to suggest otherwise you need hard evidence to support your claim. And by hard evidence, I mean, scientific research done preferably in the last couple of years. Not some outdated religion-based “research”. I will go ahead and post two links (there are countless online if you cared to do some research) proving my point and I suggest you do the same if you are to be taken seriously.

Here they are:

http://apahelpcenter.org/articles/article.php?id=31

http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/publications/justthefacts.pdf

The websites referenced are both the work of world renowned psychologists and sex experts. Their reports are published regularly by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). So before you go ahead and grossly dismiss them, you need to read and understand their work. They extensively explain how human sexuality, from infancy to puberty to adulthood, evolves and how we all individually develop our own orientation based on various factors. And how, no one’s personal “taste” is similar to the next person. If you understand this bit then you will have no trouble understanding the fallacies in your next argument:

Homosexuality being un-African

Your first mistake was to quote two heads of state; Museveni and Mugabe, as the moral authority as to what’s acceptable by ALL Africans. This claim in and of itself is ludicrous. No one person decides what’s moral for the rest of his/her peers. Also need I remind you that Mugabe shouldn’t be quoted on anything with a track record of corruption, human rights abuse and fraud? Do you really want such an individual to write a moral code for fellow Africans? As for Museveni who “mocks” European leaders for their support of gays and lesbians rights, where’s the mockery when he’s courting the European Union and Common Wealth nations for a push on better relations between the two? For the record, an International Monetary Fund report from 2005-2006 ranks his government as one of the most corrupted on the planet. The report can be found here:

http://www.nationmedia.com/eastafrican/current/Regional/Regional0.html

How is it that every time instability seems to rise within a nation, magically the president has THE answer off the top of their hat and tries to scapegoat a certain faction of society? If it isn’t “witches” in Kenya, it’s Tutsis in Rwanda (Kayibanda and Habyarimana division tactics ring a bell?) or gays in Muslim countries (Nigeria and Gambia come to mind) and now Rwanda? Did we not learn anything about discrimination?

Most scientists and sex experts agree that sexual orientation isn’t a personal choice. And by this logic, humans across the board are the same. So what would lead you to believe that Africans are any different? Is it fair and just that we -Africans- claim justice and dignity in how the West treats us as a people but yet turn around and treat our fellow Africans with second class status simply because we do not agree or in this particular case, understand them?


The religion argument

This argument in itself contradicts the one you made about authentic African customs. Surely you are aware, I assume, that Christianity as well as Islam are both fundamentally un-African? There’s nothing inherently African about these two Abrahamic religions. Period! This isn’t an attempt to give you a history lesson by any means, but anyone with half a brain knows these basic historical facts. They were both imported by European colonizers and Middle Eastern merchants with no intentions other than subdue Africans and exploit their lands. So if you’re going to root out every thing un-African, begin with your names, clothing apparel, hairstyles, music played on the radio and in clubs, etc. And I’m pretty certain you see how ridiculous such a task is.

If you’re going to use some biblical verses to back your claims, then go ahead and condemn everything the book deems “impure” or “unnatural”, from shaking hands with a woman in her menstrual period, to wearing clothing made of different fabrics to eating shell fish. While you are at it, why don’t you stone to death every single person caught in adultery?

I will not spend much time on this particular argument as it’s self destructive and quite frankly laughable.

You also claim that somehow criminals responsible for the 1994 genocide, rapists and the likes are the only ones practicing homosexuality in prison. Really? Would you be willing to do some research and publish your findings? If you can prove to your readers that homosexuality happens mostly in prison and boarding schools for boys, and that female homosexuality is unheard of in Rwanda ( by your logic this shouldn’t be hard to prove), then I’m willing to retract my statement and acknowledge that I was wrong. If you can prove that this NEVER happens in military camps, clergy retreats, etc, again do us all a favour and prove it to be so.

You proved absolutely nothing by mentioning it in your article and failed to demonstrate how these are isolated incidents. And again you contradicted yourselves a few paragraphs later by mentioning the practice happening everywhere else such as boarding schools for boys. And again I fail to see any mention of female homosexuality.

I could go on and on and try to refute all your claims but that would take time and quite frankly most of your arguments are so ludicrous that I can’t honour them with a reasoned response.

I will mention one thing though. For a country that suffered decades of state sanctioned bigotry, extremism and other social injustices, your memory sure is selective. Making such inflammatory claims and failing to back them up with valid evidence does nothing but alienate your readers but also hurts young gays and lesbians who are growing up in such a hostile climate. If the genocide and the climate that led to it are any indication, your article is just as divisive as Journal KANGURA, the only difference is that your target is gays and lesbians.

Regards.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Lincentia, libertas, quad pacis.


I haven't blogged in a minute and since my beloved nation is in its GENOCIDE COMMEMORATION WEEK, mourning, I thought I'd use this space to pause and reflect on the genocide and silently "pray"-I don't really do that-for those we lost as victims and fighters for peace in our nation. And to all the freedom fighters AROUND THE WORLD, this is for you!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Open letter to a homophobic newspaper.

I know I haven't posted anything since May, and that's because I've had such a hectic and ever so changing schedule but I've decided that until I post something new and of value, I might as well post this letter I sent to a leading newspaper in Rwanda in response to a very homophobic piece they had printed in a 2006 issue. Here's a link to the piece and my response follows below:

Sent: November 22, 2007 4:09 PM
To: 'letters@newtimes.co.rw'
Subject: Re: sodomy, animal sex un-african by Patrick Bigabo

To Whom It May Concern:


I just stumbled upon this article on your website and I was puzzled by the level of blatant ignorance and utter hostility that it was written with. I’m not certain the author has done their homework before publishing such rubbish, but to quote an ignorant and downright dictator such as Nigeria’s Obasanjo speaks volumes.

For ANY African to claim that homosexuality is “un-African” and back their opinion on the fact that “the Bible says so” itself is contradictory and ludicrous. Need I remind Mr Bigabo that the Bible itself IS indeed un-African? Need I remind him that the same book upon which he bases his assumptions was used in the enslavement and the colonization of our ancestors and many other “cultured societies” throughout history? If he fails to see such an obvious historical fact, then maybe he should consider history lessons as a part time hobby?

He pathetically claims that a survey conducted, not recently but well over four decades ago, and might I add, very biased, concluded that homosexuals were having sex with boys between the ages of 16 and 19. Well, Mr Bigabo needs to be reminded that the said homosexuals were in that age range themselves. Also known as the age of puberty! And so did and still do, heterosexual males when they come of age. They have sex with members of the opposite sex within that same age range. What an absurd comment to make!

The Western World is not “assuming superiority” by pushing gay rights within third world venues. This is a moral issue. If someone’s rights are being unfairly reneged based on brainless assumptions and archaic beliefs, how do you expect the World to sit and turn a blind eye? Didn’t Rwanda suffer a horrendous genocide EXACTLY because of the same attitude?

I could go on and on about what Mr Bigabo or anyone else with similar beliefs, should consider before making hurtful and ignorant remarks, but my keyboard would have to be replaced. So I only have a few options here:

1) Take half an hour everyday to educate yourselves on human sexuality.
2) Research, extensively, locally or otherwise, and find out what indigenous attitudes were prior to the arrival of western colonizers into our lands in order to understand which is un-African. Homophobia or Homosexuality?
3) I challenge you to publish any findings of that research. Better yet I challenge you to publish this letter in your newspaper.


Lastly, I’d like to comment on Mr Bigabo equating same sex desire with bestiality. I’m sorry for having to lecture him but it appears he skipped his English Vocabulary lessons. Bestiality is a sexual relationship with an animal. Same sex desire is between two human beings. Is this really so hard to comprehend or am I missing something?

My humble opinion and thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Regards,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Feeling much better...

What is it about vulnerable (and hot) men that's so appealing? I, sometimes, can't believe myself and the types of men I fall for. When I was 18 or 19, it was okay and made sense to fall for a straight guy in despair. Then I could just give them a shoulder to cry on without crying along. Then I could look them straight in the eyes and say that I understood what they were going through. Hell, then I could even make them cry by just...Well let's not go there. Topic for another day.
But now, in my late twenties, to think that I can still fall for anyone who happens to give me extra attention. Even if that attention is for a short while and only serves their own agendas, I should just slap myself real good.

This great friend of mine from childhood has been going through a lot lately. He's the sweetest straight guy you'll ever meet. I probably should mention that I had a huge crush on him when we were in high school. But...We parted ways at some point in time and kept very minimal contact, maybe because a part of me still had a thing for him or maybe because our families are close. I'm sure if they weren't I would have completely forgotten about him. Well, maybe not completely. Who am I kidding? I could never forget about him. Period!

So this poor kid is going through some sort of pre-mid-life crisis, and I use this term because I couldn't think of any other that would describe this condition. He just turned thirty and I know that mid-life crisis doesn't hit until you are between your mid-thirties to your mid-forties. So he's sorta rushing, if I may say. At least, I think so.

Without revealing anything about his life (that would be unfair), I happen to think that he has accomplished a lot. Great career, great goals about his life and also great shoulders...Ahem, I mean great future. No seriously, this kid is on the right track to an amazing future. So you're probably wondering. What the heck does that have to do with me?

Well, I honestly don't know how and when it started. But I tend to be very attentive to people's plights. And every time I'd sit through a conversation with him, I'd grow fonder and fonder of him. And before I could realize it, there it was again. Me falling for another straight man in need of "attention". He most likely didn't see it coming, but I did. And the interesting part is that I could tell he didn't seem to care or mind or even worry that I might get myself in a very hurtful situation. I don't know if it's because, like me, another Gemini, we are supposed to have this self centered personality and he was only concerned about his own issues. Or if it's because he didn't want to face it out of laziness (another trait of Geminis), or maybe because he was afraid he'd have to hurt me by rejecting me and/or pushing me away. Either way, it happened. These past few weeks were a heck of an ordeal for me. I would cook up a quick dinner, just because he said he'd drop by. I'd serve him dinner and even clean up after him. I'd play the kind of music I know he likes, just because it makes him happy. Hell, I'd even let him borrow my ipod for a few days just so he can listen to that same music I know he likes. Something I don't do, since I listen to my ipod when I'm at the gym or reading a book or traveling. My friends and family noticed and started making fun of me. Telling me how I behave when he's around and stuff.

But, thanks to that new book, The Secret, I realized that, no one else could get me out of the mess I had managed to plunge myself into, but my damn little self! As one of my favorite blogger, Kenneth Winfrey, so gracefully says it:"...being both black and gay, many of us really just function on instinct (auto-pilot) to survive. We are reacting to what is happening to us rather than choosing what we want to happen." I decided, much like Kenneth, that "we all deserve a mate that is affirmed and confident enough to fully acknowledge the relationship for whatever it is...Although I can remain the sensitive empathetic individual that I am, I won’t settle for less any more." The sad thing is though, remaining the attentive and caring friend that I am, has a unilateral impact. It only helps the other party. It does not however, help me with my feelings. So the first step was the realization that I can't afford to put my heart on the floor to be stepped on and that's a big step but I'm left with a big question mark. How do I manage to deal with my feelings without stripping Mr NOT of a great friend (which I think
I am to him)? Since, that would be an unfair thing to do. After all, he never pretended to be anything other than the same childhood friend he always was. Just because we enjoy each other's company to a great extent and happen to agree on most topics, from religion to sexuality to politics to the type of music we listen to and everything in between, this doesn't mean he was ever willing to go down that road. And he shouldn't have to pay for not meeting whatever my hopeless expectations might have been. Sad, this journey we call life, ain't it?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

New French Justice Minister, highest ranking person of North African origin.

Lawyer Rachida Dati, was born in 1965 in Saint Rémy, of a Moroccan father and an Algerian mother. She lost her mother when she was just 16 and she felt like she "had been punished", as her mother was everything to her and her 11 siblings.

She managed to study economics and law while working in a private clinic and got her degrees in both fields. She worked for both public and private companies, namely the oil giant Elf.

In 2002, she wrote a letter to the new French president Nicholas Sarkozy, then freshly appointed as interior minister. And she offered to advise her on matters of immigration. Which he agreed to and hired her as his adviser. She managed to help him keep a somewhat positive figure, after the notorious racist comments he made after the 2005 riots which, as we all know, included inner city youths of North African and Sub-Saharan origin. BBC online has more.