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Opinions of Friday, 24 June 2011

Columnist: Appiah, Papa

Say it Loud - The Audacity to be Gay

My last article got far more response than I had ever expected, and more insults too – ouch! Some people even e-mailed me to top it up, as it were and even advise me on my future conduct. This is all well and good. No one is barred from involvement in our national discourse. The truth does not often do a good job at defending itself. Personally, I do not often worry too much who people think I am and like to leave my articles for individual interpretation, but, on this occasion, and in view of the nature of the topic and the fact that I have inadvertently drawn my family into this, I would like to place on record, that I am NOT gay! I have never been gay and never will be. I am a happily married man with two children. The third, a girl, and a special gift from my wife to name after my late mother, is on her way. Her arrival is eagerly awaited. I have no gay friends and as far as I know, no member of my family is gay. I have absolutely no personal stake in this issue. I used the first person singular in my article only for literary effect. I fight only on a matter of principle. No one man has monopoly to hatred. And if we were all to hate on matters as irrelevant as an individual’s sex preference, what a world this would be. Give me peace and love any day. I dislike anybody or any group of people who see themselves as superior to others and take it upon themselves to pontificate on how others should live their lives. That is how the seeds of hatred are sown before it blooms into verbal and then physical attacks.

So I dislike homophobes, as much as I do, racists, xenophobes, religious extremists, anti-Semitists and even tribalists. People will often find an excuse to hate even if only to partially mask the weakness inherent in a senseless hatred of another man. So homophobes will often quote bible verses to support their hatred. If one man is going to be condemned and ostracized from society merely on the basis of one bible verse, then what should happen to all the rest of us who break all the other verses each day? Why are we not being ostracized for dishonesty, for bribery for instance? Far more harm is being done to the Ghanaian economy and standard of living by corruption than a few gay people can ever hope to achieve. Why are we not attacking corruption with the same enthusiasm? Where does culture begin and where does it end. What is Ghanaian culture? Is it wearing suite and tie to go to church on a Sunday? Is culture static or dynamic? Is lap –dancing in clubs part of our culture? Why are we not attacking them with similar vigor?

In Texas, they lynched Negros. You did not have to have committed any crime. You were picked up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, hung up on a tree and fire set beneath your feet till you gradually roasted to death to the enjoyment of the hate-filled racists. You did not have to have done anything wrong. You were lynched for having the audacity to be black. Why were six million Jews killed in the Second World War? A lunatic blamed them for all the wrongs in German society and got a nation behind him. The Jews did nothing wrong. They were killed for having the audacity to be Jews. The venom and hatred in some of the comments to my article when people thought they were dealing with a gay who had dared to speak out gives much cause for concern. People are being victimized for having the audacity to be gay.

A gentleman advised me to sit back, reflect on what I had written and see if I was proud of it. I have taken his advice. I have reflected on everything I wrote and believe it or not, I stand behind every single word, comma, paragraph and full stop in my article.

Papa Appiah