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Opinions of Sunday, 19 June 2011

Columnist: Appiah, Papa

Say it Loud, I’m Gay and Proud

Centuries of oppression has not changed us one little bit. We are the same people dragged in shackles and manacles into rat-infested stinky ships and sold like cattle in foreign lands. I wasn’t there, but I can still feel the pain. I can feel the pain of the whip on my great grandfathers back as he yelled out for help. And somehow, even today, I continue to bear the strips of the whip on my back. I continue to suffer the indignity and humiliation of subtle nuanced racism. So, I happen to have more issues to worry about in this world. My burden is so heavy, that I have no time to pretend to don the cloak of a sex policeman- to decide who should have sex, and in which hole.

What any two consenting adults decide to do in their own bedroom is none of my business. It is none of my business if one decides to enter hole number one or hole number two, or spend their lives with a man or woman. One would have thought that we, having suffered the indignity of years of oppression merely because of the colour of our skin, would be more considerate of others. Yet, we are the people using some obscure verse in the book the white man brought along with his gun to bay for blood of others of different sexual orientation.

A paedophile is a paedophile, homosexual or heterosexual, and they have to face the full rigours of the law. And yet, our schools have been plagued for years by teachers exploiting young females for sexual gratification who have often escaped with a wink and a gentle slap on the wrist. And yet our depth of homophobia means that we are suddenly beginning to pursue homosexual teachers with venom their heterosexual counterparts rarely have to endure. And Ghanaians are calling for lynching, imprisonment and harassment of people merely on the basis of their sexual orientation. The fact is that despite numerous theories, no one knows for sure why an individual risks everything to maintain a homosexual relationship. I am not going to pretend to understand. What I know, is that, as much as I despise being judged by the colour of my skin rather than by the content of my character, I am never going to judge another man merely on their sexual preference.

In a rather “unghanaian” manner, we seem to be enjoying the prospect of subjecting our fellow man to a life of secrecy, embarrassment, humiliation, depression and even suicide. We are kicking people while they are down and immensely enjoying our fleeting encounter with strength and power. But, in the end, when we have all ceased collecting our bribes, and sexually abusing our church people, and domestically abusing our wives, and started to look after our kids, and stopped raping little helpless girls, we can begin to throw stones at others.

If we cannot understand, as a people, that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights irrespective of colour, sex, race sexual orientation, language or religion, then I am afraid we should all be shackled and thrown back into ships. Because centuries of oppression would have taught us nothing.

Papa Appiah