The dilema of closeted gays

| September 6, 2013

His eyes involuntarily look you up and down. He is in his 40s but remains unmarried. He cannot keep a relationship longer than six months.

According to Teekay, a 26-year-old student and gay man, the above profile presents a perfect storm of reasons to be in the closet. The man in question has a high profile job, is given to religious prohibitions and has an uptight family that doesn’t approve of gays. In his closet, the man tells his friends he has not found the right person yet, but most people gossip about his ambiguous sexuality behind his back. He is a workaholic who goes on constant business travels and hides behind compulsive athletics and lots of church time to mask his real identity. All these, says Teekay, are avoidance mechanisms.

A report by the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has revealed that more Batswana men often married or with long-term partners, are sleeping with other men. According to the report, the rate of men who sleep with other men in Gaborone alone is at 20 percent. “Because of a society that snubs anyone who is not strictly heterosexual, these men called ‘closeted gays’ then try to have a  ‘normal’ life by hiding behind women while in secret they are forced to live deceptive, dangerous lifestyles.

“How do I know all of this? Because darling, many of my gay friends have sexual trysts with married men on a regular basis,” says Teekay.
Professional marriage counsellor Ntombi Setshwaelo says there are high levels of shock and trauma that could be avoided if people were allowed to be real with themselves and be with who they want to be. “We need to be more educated before we start throwing stones and voicing out our opinions,” she observes.
Setshwaelo explains how some women just find their marriages breaking down, even getting divorced, without knowing the real truth because they are just not able to connect the red flags.

“It becomes even more complicated because these things are happening in an area that is highly controversial and complex.”  Some women apparently choose to turn a blind eye to it. “Imagine waking up one day and your whole world has changed,” says one woman. “Where you thought you identified yourself in society has changed. You are stripped of your security. I wouldn’t want to know either,” says another.

Even though some men manage it well, like they would any form of infidelity, there are always signs including emotional distance, among others, according to Setshwaelo. She says decriminalising homosexuality could mean fewer mental health and emotional problems for women who find themselves made the  ‘cover’ story for too many gay and bisexual men. “An enlightened attitude towards homosexuality would give gay men more options than living a lie,” adds Teekay.

Category: News

Comments are closed.