Friday, May 25, 2007

"Curative" Rapes--and Other Horrors of Being Gay in Africa

Last summer, when Jess and I spent about 10 days in Ethiopia with the organization AMREF, we came up with a little joke to make ourselves feel better about our status in a country (nevermind a continent) where our relationship is illegal. We took to calling each other "Criminal Smallz" ("smallz" being our most common nickname for each other), and it's a moniker we still volley about in jest from time to time. For us, by now, it's become a somewhat quaint reminder of our time in Africa; it's an inside joke--but one that's funny, of course, precisely because it's not our daily reality. We got to come home, to New York, where things are (relatively) safe for ladies like us.

Today's article from ColorLines reminded me of just how bad life might be if we had no such home to cling to. I won't enumerate all the terrible things that happen to gay folks in many parts of Africa, but suffice it to say, life is no bowl of cherries. The one ray of hope that activists point to, however, is the rise rise of the Internet, and the sense of community that can provide for isolated gays... Thank God for small favors.

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