Struggling with his sexuality in a country that’s hostile to LGBT rights, this letter writer is also mourning the tragic loss of his friend.
Our elder hopes that asserting his identity will help.
I’ve struggled with my sexuality ever since I was six years old. I went through such hard emotionally exhausting moments and bullying but I made it through until I dated a guy in my high school and depression and abandonment struck me again. I recovered after I went to university but the dark cloud of loneliness and abandonment still was on me. I decided to make friends who are part of the LGBT community. That way I don’t feel alone, and now my friend died tragically and I’m forced to pretend to be strong cause my family needs time to be strong, but I’m overwhelmed and I have lost myself and I’m drowning into this dark cloud. I can’t see any color. I can’t see the beauty of life. My energy has been sucked from me… all I see is fear of losing the little number of people I have and maybe I could have prevented that and I don’t know what to do with my mind – it’s racing and I can’t sleep.
Oh, my goodness, I am so saddened by your letter! My first thought is of course you’re depressed, of course you’re lonely, and of course, you’re overwhelmed. Those are the appropriate emotions for a healthy gay man in Tanzania. You’re writing from one of the most unbalanced countries on the planet; a population that is naturally ebullient and generous yet afflicted with some of the cruelest laws and most violent undercurrents in Africa. I feel almost helpless to advise you, but I do have one comment. It’s not advice, it’s not a professional opinion, it’s just a challenge I present from a safe and secure location that I make at no risk to myself. I want you to avoid legal and social persecution, but I also want to present an alternative to the emotional despair that is the intended condition your country’s government believes you should experience.
Here’s what I mean. As homosexuality is a normal sexual variation that exists everywhere regardless of social attitudes or laws, there are always networks that maintain opportunities and connections for gay and non-binary folk to express themselves. They’re always there no matter how draconian the laws may be, and as you know, they exist in Tanzania. My challenge is you seek out the most assertive gay rights group and look for ways to associate yourself with the movement to change the law. Use the energy that is smothered by despair to attack the source of your symptoms. I am hoping if you can assert your identity you will shed the hopelessness you feel. I realize that may mean a break with your family, but if they are in thrall to the nation’s illusions about sex I see no way forward for you at home until they experience a conversion to a rational understanding of humanity and their son’s personality.
Lastly, and sadly, you could consider migration. Get the best possible education and check the countries that would ignore your preferences and welcome your skills.
Article #: 496946