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Feature Article of Friday, 8 September 2006

Columnist: Afari, Sena

Homosexuality in Ghana: The Great 'Coming out'

I reckon August 24, 2006 to be the great day of “coming out” for the Gay and Lesbian community in Ghana. Prince McDonald the President of GALAG (Gay and Lesbian Association of Ghana) made a debut at Ghana’s most popular morning talk show – Joy FM’s Super Morning Show. Quite an interesting debate ensued and I found that some of my perspectives, in fact many of them, were corroborated whereas a few were left unconfirmed.

Homosexuality, an attraction of two or more people of the same sex is a life-old problem which did not start 8 weeks ago very much like the cocaine saga. It has been around for a pretty long time. Like the cocaine saga, “one small mistake” has brought into the spotlight this activity. Dr. Dela Attipoe of blessed memory’s words deserved immortalizing: “denial or wishing it away is not the solution to the problem.” I acquiesce and would like all well-meaning Ghanaians to think with me on this one.

Prince, for me, represents the archetype struggler with homosexuality. For the on-lookers, the drug addict, rapists, thieves, gays, etc have a “problem” and need to be “put away.” That’s all well and good when you are not the one caught in its clutches. If we look closer we’ll find that there are deeper issues that need to be addressed.
Some years back, I like Prince woke up to find that there was someone in my bed with me and I wasn’t too sure if it was me or an exact replica of me with a “strange struggle.” As the days turned into months and finally into years, I realised the I was gay! Women had no particular attraction for me except for platonic relationships. Where could I go? Who could I turn to? I tried prayer, counselling and the whole repertoire but the harder I tried the more heterosexuality eluded me!

Finally, I came to the “I was born this way” junction. This tends to be the breaking point for many who struggle with same-sex tendencies and more so those with a Christian inclination like Prince’s and mine. Beyond this point, God has taken me through a painfully slow process of recovery but it has been well worth the effort. There have been many relapses but things are pretty stable now. Recovery is a whole course on its own.

People, all this background tries to do is paint the reality of the situation. I was gay for 10 years approximately but active for 7 years. Homosexuality didn’t come because of the white man and all the superstitious things we’ve come to believe. For me, it was the result of nurture and not nature. My first sexual experience was with my peer when I was only 15!

WHERE IS THE “OBRONI” FACTOR?

Should we be surprised that the news came through a few months ago that some juveniles at Tema had literally “formed a homosexual club?”

We tend to be escapists around here and play the “blame game” pretty well. “Kwesi Broni” may be part of the problem but we are definitely the greatest cause. At the root of all this is the neglect of God (Rom 1:16-23) but nurture cannot be ruled out! It is so much easier to blame someone for the problems we face. My conclusion on causes could fill a whole volume. Failed parenting and the neglect of God for me are the basis for the current problem. You only need to log on to the Internet and the figures will stun you. My research for a post-graduate degree in Counselling and my book on the subject show stunning figures. Like the plastic filth in which the nation is engulfed, homosexuality is here and increasing daily. We have to accept this fact. The question of decriminalization will be subject of another article – do watch out for it.

It is against this backdrop that I charge all well-meaning Ghanaians to wear their glasses and begin to correct their myopic view on the subject. I am in no way giving accent to homosexuality but having been there my point is this: IT IS HERE! IT IS HERE ! IT IS HERE AND IF WE DO NOT DEAL WITH IT HEAD-ON IT’S TOLL WILL BE GREATER.

Like the Bird Flu, the lack of proper mechanisms will only result in further corruption. Many torn in this web do not know which side of the pendulum to swing to but with the right counsel, prayer and TIME, the desired change can come. The comments of some Christians startles me! Christ hated sin but definitely not the sinner!

When Mary Magdalene was caught in adultery, he stooped down to the ground to reach her where she was but he did in no way condone the sin nor did he condemn her. In my view, until we create such an environment especially in our Churches, the rate of change is going to be excruciatingly slow. I was there for 10 years and believe you me, I KNOW that not even the prospect of jail seemed a deterrent enough! We must realize these are passions that it takes the Grace of God and good choices to overcome. I quote myself in saying that “the power to change lies both within and beyond the ability of the one desiring the change.”

In August 2003 (August 8, 2003 Edition of the Daily Graphic), the headline article carried the story of 4 young men who were apprehended for their involvement in homosexual acts. They were sentenced to 2 years each in prison. Three years on, my constant wonder is this: “did their incarceration make them better or worse?” Putting people behind bars, in my opinion, doesn’t rid them of any vice that they might be struggling with! The dailies have carried countless stories of thieves who when released from prison literally went right back for the same offence (theft!). Prisons do change people, don’t they? I am not a GALAG proponent per se but the fact that they have a counselling team to help people who want to break out is a good step. I trust that it’s based on Christian principles because that’s the only place to get true change started. For what seems like an unhealthy environment, these young ones at least have a listening ear to hear them out. I recently was told first hand of a young girl who had a struggle with lesbianism. Realizing there was something wrong, she consulted the clergy in her school. Believe it or not, he gave her out to the school authorities and she was expelled. RIDICULOUS! Will anyone else who truly wants to break out trust their parents, chaplains or school authorities? NO. If an alternate environment is created e.g. in GALAG), where the person will be heard-out, won’t they join? If we create such an accepting environment in our Churches and homes, a lot of this will be dealt with. Let’s be objective in our analyses.

The legal battles will ensure for a long time to come but my conclusion is this: we must accept that the situation exists! Secondly, homosexuality is not going to be solved by shifting blame and putting people behind bars. The number of recurrent thieves/other criminals tells us enough of a prison’s capabilities. The solution is simple: counselling, prayer and TIME. All this of course requires an environment of LOVE. It is not an easy road. What many have lost sight of or rather do not know is that homosexuality is only a pointer to a deeper problem. I charge all who want to see this solved to study a little more counselling/psychology and they’ll reconsider some of their thoughts/words and actions.

Prince McDonald is amazing in his confidence for me. I still believe there is hope for him to break through since he is a believer. CHANGE IS POSSIBLE. This great “coming out” is amazing and for me is sooner than I reckoned. My advice is that in the first case medical care should be looked at should we want to control HIV/AIDS/STIs and then a more pragmatic, objective analysis of the problem should be made. Counsellors and the Christian community cannot be ruled out!

Ghanaians must accept Prince and the gays not because they were “made that way” but because with the right nurturing and environment, they can become the “better people” the general populace perceives themselves already to be. It is here but let us remember that “denial or wishing it away is not the solution to the problem.” CHANGE IS POSSIBLE. Meanwhile chew on this as I prepare my next article:

“The neglects of our pasts have become the rejects of our present.”

The Papacy
Director, LEHOH Foundation
September 1, 2006


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.


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