I was having a discussion with one of my regular taxi drivers the other day. We were on the subject of a depreciating Cedi, high levels of government misappropriation of funds and other social ills in Ghana, when he suddenly pointed to a man walking on the dirt road ahead, and says, “Look at that man and the way he walks.” I looked and saw a slightly overweight man walking up a hill, and asked, what about him?
“Look at the way he walks,” the driver repeated, scornfully. “He’s a homosexual. I hate those people.”
Well, I looked again, and all I saw was a fat man walking up a hill. And I suppose because his arse was quite big, like many African men I’ve seen here in Ghana and elsewhere, you might have said that it looked like a woman’s backside from behind. But other than a slightly over-sized posterior, I could see no reason to reach a conclusion that this man walking on the road, minding his own business, was anything other than totally masculine and completely heterosexual.
“They should be shot,” continued the driver, angrily.
“What the hell are you talking about?” I had to ask him bluntly. He had just been speaking to me about how he tells his wife about me–“my friend, Rasta,” whom he claims to like very much because “he tells it as it is,” and so, I told him as I saw it.
You know nothing about this man. You’ve just seen him walking up the road for a split second. Yet you’ve decided that you hate him because you presume him to be a homosexual. What if he is? What does it have to do with you? Why should you want to harm him? You must have real issues, my friend. And you call yourself a child of God, a Christian? Homosexuals are children of God, too, you know.
“My God would not make those people,” he yelled, turning toward me with angry eyes.
“Your God?” I chimed.
“Yes. My God,” he replied. “My God would never make homosexuals.”
Well, somebody’s God made them. Somebody’s God must have trumped your God, because “those people” exist! Why do we Africans spend so much time worrying about the insignificant things in life? Here we are living in filth with dirt roads, open sewers, gross unemployment, corruption at every turn, a currency heading down the drains and our children still learning under trees. Yet you reserve all your anger and resentment for some fat man walking up a hill, who you believe to be a homosexual. And without even a shred of proof, you’re ready to shoot him, in the name of God. Don’t you think that’s odd?”
“I hate those people,” he responded again. “They spread disease.”
Well, you know, where I come from in England, it’s African communities that are said to spread HIV/AIDS. But no one is advocating killing them.
“Why do they say that about Africans?”
“Because homosexual men and African communities have the highest rates of HIV infection in that country. Many Africans migrate from this continent to the UK where they can get better treatment and care.”
“And they let them into Europe?”
“Yes, they do. And I’ve worked in the health sector where gay men and African communities have forged unlikely alliances to fight the prejudices they face in certain quarters.”
So you support homosexual rights?
Yes. I support the right of anyone to live their life freely, in peace, and without persecution. As long as “that man” is not trying to bed you or cause you any harm whatsoever, why do you care who he may love? It’s the leaders of this country who are fucking us all that you should be worried about. I’ve never understood why some men are so concerned about where and in whom some other man wants to put his dick.
“They corrupt our children.”
Pleeease! The only thing I can gather from what you’ve said is that you saw that man walking up the hill with his fat arse, and it turned you on. If only for a moment, your eyes settled on his butt and you were aroused. And if that was the case, then it’s all about you, my friend, and nothing to do with that man being homosexual at all.
“Are you calling me a homosexual?”
I’m not calling you anything. Not in so many words. I’m just telling you what I think your words may reveal about your train of thoughts.
He went silent for a very long time, and shuttling me around town for the next three hours, he hardly spoke a word. But every time we stopped for me to get out the car, he struggle rather clumsily to unbuckle my seat belt, hitched upon my hip, which somehow left me slightly unnerved.