32- year old Mike (not his real name) from Siaya County has been sexually attracted to men all his life. Mike says he realized he was different in primary school when men would make him blush.
‘I always wondered what was wrong with me because during my adolescent stage, unlike my peers I always found myself wanting to get closer to boys unlike girls.’
Mike who is currently married to a woman and has two children says he married because it was the right thing to do and it is what society expected him to do.
‘I am still attracted to men but I will just stay with my wife because she has a clean heart. I don’t want people judging me.’
Mike describes his love for men as a best-kept secret. It’s something I would never tell anyone, ‘I just opened up to you because I have seen your stories and I trust you will keep my secret’.
He says his father died without knowing he was attracted to men and it is not something he is willing to open up to his mother about.
In order to run away from reality, Mike confesses that he was involved in very many relationships. He thought he would find that one woman who would take away his sexual attraction to men.
‘I must confess I broke very many hearts back in the day.’
He says he has also dated men in the past but in secret. He informs me that most of his relationships with male counterparts were with married men.
His fashion sense is perfectly fitting clothes. He has an eye for fashion, something which he attributes to his need to look good at all times. Despite being married he still has the urge to dress and look good for men. ‘There is something about men giving you ‘the look;’ you are a lady you know it.’ He laughs jokingly.
Mike explains that he has gone through his fair share of challenges. “Imagine kupenda mtu na huwezi kaa na yeye” (loosely translated to “imagine loving someone and not being able to be with them).
He describes his relationship with his wife as the right thing to do. I intrude a little bit and inquire whether he loves his wife or not something which he shyly evades.
He says he would never comment on that, though this makes me more curious as to whether the wife is aware that he is attracted to men.
‘While growing up I loved wearing my sister’s dresses and playing with girls, but it never occurred to me that it was because I felt feminism inside.”
I enquired whether he was part of a support group for men attracted to men and he quickly shot down the idea.’Hata siwezi enda place kama hiyo,hii ni siaya nitakuwa judged plus I have a family.’
He said he has had sexual relationships with men in the past but all have been a secret.
DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE
The trained lab technician says he discovered he was sexually attracted to men way before people started having what he describes as “gay conversations” in this country.
The youthful family man says the thought of something being wrong with him made him slip into depression and even caused him to contemplate suicide at some point.
INTERNET CAME TO HIS RESCUE
He turned to the internet for knowledge to try and understand his attraction for men and later found out that there were many more like him. According to him this gave him reprieve.
By Aluoch Oito