Challenges of being a gay man in Ghana

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In the fledgling stages of life, even before I was conscious of my sexuality, I was put down for things I had no control over - the way I talked, the way I walked, and even the things I liked. These factors made many refer to me as “girl-boy”. As a young child of six who realized that he liked boys and knew the implications of that; being myself was not an option, and for that reason, I became a poser. I had to watch and plan everything carefully as the slightest head or hand movement could give me away. I love my country. The food and its year-round sunshine, but there was also the absolute burden of knowing that I had to hide who I really was for the rest of my life which was killing me slowly from the inside out.

To live everyday in survival mode and keep up appearances was consuming my soul and there seemed to be no way around it besides waiting each day to get out. I suffered from the sickness of invisibility and the scourge of self-loathing.

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Because being gay or even just being effeminate and falling short of the representation of the typical male figure was seen as a Taboo, the existence of other homosexual men was a myth to me and as a result, I had no like-minded friends. In Ghana, if perceived to be gay, no one wanted to associate with you unless it was to chastise you and anybody that did try to befriend a “girl-boy” risked being taunted as well regardless of the age.

Where I come from, we live our lives through the eyes of others - to be gay is bad but to be the parent of a gay son was worse. As the parent, you are seen as a failure with an infected gene pool and this is a predominant factor why parents kick out their gay kids.

To be gay in Ghana is mentally and emotionally draining. We are isolated, harassed, and beaten because we love differently. In essence, male homosexuality is lumped in with bestiality, and gay activity brings misdemeanor charges at minimum. There aren't any specific laws against homosexuality in Ghana, but it is common for the police to use other laws against us, like one forbidding 'unnatural sex.' This has made gay men preys to muggers and thieves because they know the police won't do anything about it, and most victims are too ashamed to report it anyways.

The general public blames the gays for AIDS even though proper sex education has not been made available to the average gay man because we are such a religious country and gay people are spawns of Satan that partake in demonizing acts. Sexually, a gay man in Ghana is unsafe because he is unable to be above board about his sexual acts at the clinic which then goes further to hinder appropriate health care. In most cases, these hospitals will not treat you unless you come in with your sex partner. Although times are changing and people seem to be more accepting, this “acceptance” is not wholehearted. The stigma of being a gay man will always be inevitable as long as you live in Ghana. The select few who have no worries are deep in the closet and won't have anything to do with gay associations, though they still want gay sex. It’s called being a perfect poser. Living in a place where who you are, what you want to do and whom you may choose to love is not only illegal but also seen as immoral is an epitome of broken hopes and dreams that I no longer want to be a part of.

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