I bumped into Brian (not his real name) during my annual dental check up at the clinic recently. Due to Covid -19 restrictions we were at the clinics’ car park awaiting the nursing receptionist call when it was our time for our respective scheduled appointments. This was in accordance to the guidelines for keeping social distancing during this Covid pandemic. As we waited calmly seated in our cars for our turn with the dentist, I engaged Brian in general conversation about our work, personal lives and the unwavering poor economy. Suddenly, Brian begun to giggle and asked me if I remembered Tom our Post Graduate fellow student of about 10 years ago. I smiled sheepishly as I remembered Tom theatrics during our class group discussions. Tom was a tall and husky man who was very friendly and had an infectious laughter. Brian continued with his narration as to how after our post-graduation, he had bumped into Tom severally at the famous local Rugby pitch. One day, Brian recalls how Tom had called him on a lazy Sunday afternoon and asked him if they could meet up. Brian was home with his pack of beers cozily set on his favorite armchair and ready to watch his favorite football match when he received Tom’s call. Brian immediately deemed it convenient to ask Tom over to his house and watch the game together as they cheered on their favorite teams.
Within half an hour, Tom was at Brian’s place a few minutes after the football match had begun. First half into the match and both Brian and Tom had gobbled a few cans of beers. Without warning or hesitation, Tom begun to fondle Brian’s thigh. I was taken aback by this statement from Brian because we both knew Tom as a happily married man. I did not want to look shocked or express any reaction whatsoever before I heard the ending of this story. Brian told me he was agitated and immediately his first reaction was to throw Tom out of his house even before the match on TV was over. Since that fiasco, Tom has never called Brian or had any communication with him. A few minutes later, Brian’s appointment with the dentist was due and we waved our good byes. As I waited for my turn for an overdue scaling, I quickly logged on my Facebook account and begun my search for Tom’s account. Curious and overly shocked I soon found his facebook account glaring at me and a cute striking profile photo of Tom and his wife. I went further and searched his albums and all I stumbled upon were photos of Tom and his wife all taken together as a couple in different places around the country. All the images exhibited Tom and his wife as a loving married couple that left no doubt in my mind. This led me to research further as to why we have closeted gay men in Nairobi who end up marrying straight women?
1. Fear of societal backlash and stigma – Due to our cultural upbringing, gay men grow up with the fear of “coming out” of their sexual orientation because family, friends and even workmates expect the traditional man in society to live and behave in a certain way. Hence, they end up having a traditional marriage and sire children to save face in society and put on a façade for their parents and kin but in reality, they keep dating other men in secret while still married to women.
2. Lack of acceptance in the Church – Most, if not all religious affiliations in Nairobi hardly accept diverse sexual orientation(s) in Church or in the mosque. This is because the concept of the family and faith from deviated sexual norms is not acceptable in the doctrine teachings. This has led to many gay men hiding in the closet so as not to be banned from the Church or other denominations.
3. Difficulties in conforming to the societal stereotypes once they ‘come out’ – The fear of being castigated by society and to be judged is greater than having to openly declare one’s sexual orientation. Some would prefer to die than honestly and openly declare to anyone that they are gay.
One of the tell-tale signs to look for if you think your husband could be gay is your suspicion. The minute you suspect your partner could be gay, then actually he could. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it is definitely a duck. In this digital age, you can always do your own investigations by snooping his browsing history and you are likely to come across gay porn or his account in gay chat rooms. It is said that due to extreme self-denial he could be also extremely homophobic. This man finds it difficult to hide his interest or attraction to his own sex. For example, he could subconsciously comment regularly on his male co-worker looks, dressing or personality. The most giveaway sign is his loss in sexual interest with you yet he is not cheating on you with another woman or dealing with the common distractions of everyday life to evade intimacy with you. Everything else in your lives could be perfect except his interest in sex with you and that is because he is attracted to other men and finds it difficult in his mind and body to compromise this.
We have couples who decide to try and work things out by going into therapy or agree to have an open relationship and deceive the society that they are ‘happily’ married. In retrospect, this would in the end keep the wife unhappy and lonely in that marriage. Sometimes the woman is heavily invested emotionally and financially dependent on the husband to find an avenue to escape. It would be wise for this husband to be honest with himself and release the wife but often the guilt that overwhelms such men to let go of a good woman and mother to his children is too intense. Such relationships will always be a mismatch and eventually never ends well. Do not marry to conform to societal norms yet you absolutely are sure you are only attracted to men. You will be living a lie and wasting the woman’s time; Time that cannot be recovered. Take initiative and seek counselling to guide you in your chosen path.