A lot of things have changed since my last post. I don’t even know where to begin.
I was in Ghana for 14 days and it was quite the trip. Initially, I was excited to come to Ghana but after some family issues, I wasn’t excited anymore but made a promise to my grandparents so I had to go. My arrival at the airport was one on the worse arrivals I have ever had at an international airport and I have been to loads of airports. It was disgusting. I was standing in a queue for 90 mins that was barely moving. It was hot, the air was stuffy and bad. Missionaries, pastors, and random religious groups were getting “VIP” treatment. People bribing and paying immigration officers to help them get through. It was appalling.
After standing in the queue for awhile, I began to feel dizzy and my knees were hurting pretty bad. An immigration officer saw me and made me leave the queue and gave me some water to wash my face and took away my passport to get it stamped. I sat there feeling sick for a very long time and I was told to come for my biometrics. After the biometrics I was allowed to go to the baggage claim. If it wasn’t for the immigration officer who saw him, I would have probably have passed out in the queue and ended up in the hospital. I thanked him and made my way outside where I had to wait forever to get my luggage.
Needless to say I was ill for the first few days and only got better after four days of being in the country. Got better just in time to celebrate my maternal grandmother’s 70th birthday. After the celebrations are over, I’m was not allowed to explore the country because my mother and family thought I will get lost or potentially be robbed or even killed as I stuck out too much. While they were right, they should have atleast allowed me to explore the vicinity of my neighbourhood but all my requests were denied.
Staying at home during my time in Ghana allowed me to delve deeper into the “underground gay network”. I reactivated my grindr account and had some interesting conversations with some people on there. I even made a few friends. They even directed to watch a fascinating video about being gay in Ghana (see embedded video below). As usual there were some who were proposing sex (I mean it is grindr after all..) but I simply denied their requests.
Almost all the people I spoke to had the same conclusion. They will get married and have discreet affairs on the side with men in similar positions. It was very disheartening for me to hear them say as they will never be able to live freely and be who they are. With pastors and churches at every corner having sermons about the “evil and demonic homosexual lifestyle “, it can take a toll on their psyche. I read some where that only 3-4% of Ghanaians believe gays and lesbians should be accepted. That means a whooping 96-97% believe that gays should not be accepted in society at all. I was watching the news in Ghana one day and they had a segment on homeless youth in Accra and the highlight was that these youth (particularly young men) were forced to engage in “deviant homosexual” activities in order to make ends meet…
Interestingly, most of the men I spoke to were religious (not super religious) but they went to church and performed their christian duties. They also all put the happiness of their respective families first. I was often told that it is a cultural thing and that if I grew up in Ghana, I would have had the same attitude. While it was interesting to speak to these men, I really felt sorry for the women who are going to be their wives. I just feel that its so unfair to them. They are probably going to be used as baby making machines while their husbands seek sexual passions elsewhere with other men. Another suggestion I was informed about was that, they could find lesbian women, have an arranged marriage and they can both have fun on the side (my older sister offered a similar suggestion when I first came out to her). While I think it will work, it is bound to take toll on both parties involved.
I also realised that because I am “Westernised” I can never put myself in the shoes of gay men in Ghana. It really saddens me that they will be living a lie (perhaps it’s not a lie but rather a reality of their situation). I know social change (i.e acceptance of gay men and lesbians in Ghana) will come one day but it is literally years aways. It may not happen in my generation or even the one after mine but it will come. I just hope the future generation of gays in Ghana will be able to have if not full freedom, but some sort of legislative protection.
While my trip to Ghana started on a very sour note, I am extremely happy with the new friends I have made and the new knowledge I gained on the trip. I don’t know when I will be returning to Ghana again but I will start keeping an eye on signs of social change.