I have a sneaking suspicion that this won’t be the last time this topic comes up…..
There are few places more burgeoning with adventure and gut wrenching reality than public buses and shuttles. Matatus are cool, but they don’t provide ample space for people to be complete idiots. In buses, there is legroom. And ironically, leg room is how I found myself in the middle of the most passive aggressive feud ever.
This is going to sound like a joke but…a preacher, a policeman and 2 gay dudes walk into a bus. I walked in right behind the cop, inspecting his holster in fear, as the couple gabbed behind me. We were walking in as a group of 4 students descended from the bus so our seats wound up being next to each others. The two dudes took the pair of seats by the window, the cop took an inner seat straight across from them and wound up sitting next to another cop.
And me? I was ecstatic. I got the aisle seat. I like having that extra leg room that the aisle provides. Yes, I’m one of those jackasses whose leg you keep tripping over. Can’t help it. I have dancer’s legs; in another life, I was either a ballerina, a barstool or a stork.
The preacher had found himself a nice little spot right at the front of the bus then began to preach like our lives were really in danger and the apocalypse was our destination. It was all Kosher until he said something about “Jesus roves you arrl.”(no typo)
Then one of the cops spat back: “No he doesn’t.”
My eyebrow popped up like ‘Say whaaaaaa…!?’ and I turned my head very slowly to face the officer who continued:
“Jesus hates gays.”
Now, I’m sitting next to two armed, homophobic officers of the law on my right hand side and two very alarmed very gay men on my left. Think about that for a second.
That’s when the more flamboyant of the gay pair shouted something back. I didn’t grasp what it was but it didn’t sound happy. Or masculine. Just very “fuck you”ish.
The preacher stammered before trying to insist that Jesus did indeed love us all and was willing to forgive us. The cop retorted that gays don’t need to be forgiven. They need to be “handled.” He then went on a rant about how they used to be burned and murdered amongst other things. He shot a glance at one of the gay dudes who shot one back. I looked up and the preacher was looking right at me like I had answers. I gave him the Kanye shrug.
I mean what am I supposed to say? Or do for that matter. Personally, I don’t care. It’s their lives. I live in Atlanta when I’m not here; the gayest city in America. Walking through Midtown Atlanta is like dancing in a musical about Rainbows. I’ve come to accept it. As long as they’re happy, polite and peaceful and not licking my earlobes, let them be what they wanna be.
As for the cops… I mean, they’re cops. With guns. Add to that, their religion dictates strictly that homesexuality is an abomination. The only person who should have had a say on that is the preacher, but that dude was giving me this face.
And understandably so. Luckily, he never got to speak as the two parties argued through him. The cop would scream at the priest, and then the couple would say something as well. They never once directly addressed each other. Even after we descended from the bus, extremely awkwardly.
I can’t imagine how hard being openly gay in Kenya is. To those that do it, you have barrels of courage(I was going to say “lots of balls” but…)This is still Africa. Yes, that Africa; the traditional one where things like homesexuality might as well be called “wtf! gth! sob. mf.” The community at large is not always receptive to new ideas and ways of life. Even ones as old as being gay. People will look at someone gay like if they stare them down hard enough, they’ll straighten out. Anomalies.
Meanwhile, Kenya, and Nairobi especially, is very “forward thinking”. A lot of new age ways of living have found niche homes and blossomed into small growing communities. For example, I met a chick the other day. She was a guy. So were her friends. You would think in a place like that, being gay wouldn’t be an issue…per se. But it still is. Whether it’s right or wrong or what my opinion on it is is somewhat irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that there are people who are gay and the sooner we can all accept that, the sooner we can keep moving forward.
Me, I’m a coward, frankly. If that was my orientation, I’d never say a word. I’d be so deep in the closet that I could raid your neighbor’s pantry.
Also notworthy: Diary of a Gay Kenyan. Not cause he’s gay but because it’s a great blog.