Do gays really exist in Ghana? What do they make of the recent public furore and focus on their practices? What would make this gay man stop the practice? How did it start and at what age?

Ghana?s clergy and Imams have spoken passionately as have the politicians and other prominent individuals on the sensitive matter of homosexuality. The one voice that remains is that of a self-confessed 22 year old gay man. Today, we bring you a transcription of the revealing conversation.

Could you tell me a little bit about yourself ? age, where you work etc?

My name is *Lexis. I am 22 years old and a peer educator at *NGO A, an NGO set up to help MSMs (Men Having Sex with Men). It is a US NGO which has been around for the past 10 years. I have worked with them for the past two years. Everyone that works for this NGO is an MSM.

What does your work as a peer educator entail and how much does it pay?

I go round the MSMs in my area, educate them about STIs and HIV/AIDS. I tell them for example that these are real diseases. I advise them to stick to one partner and to use condoms consistently. I tell them how these diseases can be contracted and also organize CT (counseling and testing)

I am paid GH?200 a month.

How many HIV tests have you personally done?

Five in all. I try to do it at three month intervals

But how do you know who in your community is MSM and how did you find NGO A?

You know one person who leads you to another who in turn leads you to another. That is how it works. As for NGO A, a friend gave them my number and I was called for training.

How did this life of MSM start for you?

I have been an MSM for the past five years. I was introduced into this kind of thing by my class teacher. I went to *Zari Secondary School . In form one, somewhere during the second term, when I got into the school, he became so close to me. I thought he was being nice. I used to go to his house. A time came when he spoke to me about it. I didn?t think much of it then. And then I needed help at a time so I went to him and he said if I did it, he would help me. So that is how I got into it.

How many times did you do it with your teacher and did he use a condom?

He used a condom and I did it twice with him and he introduced me to certain friends of his?

If your initiation was a chance thing and not because you say that is how you think you were oriented, why has it become part of your life now?

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After I got into it, it was fun, fun, fun. It was nice so it became a hobby. I made a lot of friends in it.

Have you had sexual relations with a woman before?

Yes. She was a lesbian. We used a condom.

How do the two compare?

Well, the fun is the same but I do enjoy the MSM more.

I am wondering how in an MSM relationship, you determine who is the man and who the girl?

With my teacher, it was 50-50, meaning when he finished, I also penetrated him. There are some people who are mainly topsy ? fully man. They will never allow you to penetrate them and there are some people who are mainly bottoms. And there are the versatiles ? both ups and downs. I am versatile.

How do you get into a relationship?

The same as heterosexuals do. A person approaches and makes a proposal. When you accept, you start from there. Sometimes too, it is a one night stand something. After that, nothing more, nothing less.

Will you say the phenomenon of MSM is very popular in Ghana?

It is a popular thing. So many people are doing it. When I go to clubs etc, I see so many people including public figures.

I don?t see how if you see someone in a club, you can conclude that he is gay. How will you know?

We have gay clubs that are meant for such people. If you are not like that, you will not be allowed to enter. It is so popular you won?t believe the kinds of people involved.

He proceeded to mention numerous names including a sports star, two gospel musicians, two hip life musicians, politicians and their sons and three pastors.

If it is as widespread as you say, then why are we so shocked whenever we hear about it and not want to talk about it?

It is like we Ghanaians, we are hypocrites. We are hypocrites. Ghanaians know what to do but they won?t do it. They know that this thing is in Ghana here. That the big men in the society are doing it but they just want to pretend they don?t know what is going on.

But have you heard men of God condemn it and a member of Parliament say that the time may come when gays may be stoned?

(Chuckling) They are just going according to the bible. They themselves are the very people who are even doing it properly. Me, I have three pastors ? I have one in my dad?s own church. They just want to pretend as if they are manna from heaven.

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To tell you the truth, this encounter with your teacher bothers me because I think he raped you. You were only 16. According to the law, there can be nothing like consent for a minor.

No he didn?t rape me. We came into an agreement and we did it. I don?t agree with the law. I liked it that is why he did it with me. If I had said no, he won?t have forced me. I went to him with an offer and he also gave me his proposal. So it was a hand go, hand come something.

Homosexuality is illegal in Ghana. Do you think this should change?

No. We just want it this way. This is because when this thing is legalized in Ghana, I don?t think something good will happen in Ghana here. The society won?t let us rest. Not everyone who behaves girlishly is MSM. They may stigmatize an innocent person. We just want them to stop the stigma and discrimination.

When I was living in *Blue town, I lived for fifteen years without anyone knowing about me till someone came in and they got to know and they started talking about us and pointing fingers.

A time came when someone wanted me to do something but another person said, ?O, this gay?. It was very bad.

What are some of the health issues you and your friends face? Have you heard about adults having to use pampers because they have lost control of their anal sphincters?

It is mainly the risk of STIs and HIV/AIDS. It is just that some of our people are too stubborn. We are going for our meeting next week. They give us three boxes of condoms and three boxes of lubricants. You have it for free, so why don?t you use it? Some of our people are too stubborn. Just yesterday, one guy told me he was going to stop using condoms because it is too painful. I had to talk and talk before he agreed to continue using it.

I don?t think pampers will become an issue. No ? because I have seen people who have done this to an old age. They are ok and there is nothing like this pampers issue.

Will the reality of pampers change your mind?

Not really. It is just that one has to be careful. Me for instance, I do see my partner twice in a week ? Friday, Saturday and Sunday when we go to church. Sometimes within a month, he hasn?t touched you.

There are MSMs who say they were born with it. What do you make of it?

I was talking to some people ? Counseling and testing. They said they started having these feelings from their childhood. Others too develop as adults.

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How have your parents reacted to this?

They don?t know. My dad is a pastor. It is only my sister and auntie that I am living with who know. My sister advises me to stop. My auntie doesn?t care about anything. She only advises me to stick to one partner. She works in a Club in Europe.

What is it that can make you stop this life of MSM?

When I get myself into a new job. I can always stop. The job I do now always brings me into contact with them. I have a friend who built his capital and started his own job. He hasn?t even got time for us. His parents knew and abandoned him. Now things are fine.

Me, I mostly go for married men. They are always afraid of certain things. There are certain things married men will never do to you ? lying to you because they know what will happen when they lie to you. ? I was about to report one such person but he cooperated.

I notice you keep talking about somebody making a proposal and you accepting etc. Do these proposals come with money?

Good money. But if you come to me with a proposal and you don?t do as you say, you will regret it. I will report you to either your family or your boss at work. There was this one instance when I almost reported a man till he cooperated and paid me.

For me, if someone expresses interest in me, I ask him, do you want a relationship or a one night stand issue? If you offer something reasonable ? I mean you should be able to give me something that will last me for a month.

Early last month, a man came to Ghana from South Africa. I was with him for one week and he gave me GH?500

If you had an opportunity to speak to the people of Ghana, what would your message be?

Leave us alone because it is in the bible and anything that is in the bible has to come to pass. They should stop saying it is a spirit. There is nothing like spirit spirit here.

It is interesting you should justify it with the bible because the bible actually condemns it

God says MSM, wars, children rising against parents etc will all come to pass. They are all coming to pass. They should stop talking about Sodom and Gomorrah. It is not only MSM that was the only sin in Sodom and Gomorrah. There was envy, people killing people, a whole lot of female sex workers. They should face reality!

*Real names altered

Sodzi-Sodzi Tettey,MD

3 COMMENTS

  1. 0238734608 you can call me if you are interested. I am a bottom living in lapaz Accra Ghana

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