IDENTITY COVER

Why you could be dating a homosexual

Many gay people are hiding in heterosexual relationships out of fear of consequences if they come out

In Summary

• Many homosexuals have not made peace with their true identity.

Letoya Johnstone
Letoya Johnstone
Image: Courtesy

Sexuality, a human characteristic, is an important yet ignored element of both male and female genders. Beyond reproduction and physical appearance, sexuality provides a form of identity for all humanity.

However, sexual orientation is a term used widely to refer to a person's emotional, romantic and sexual attraction to individuals of a particular gender. The constitution only recognises heterosexual relationships, a situation that has led homosexuals to hide in plain sight for their security and the safety for their loved ones.

“I am very protective of my mum. She is the reason I do not disclose my identity or trust people easily. People have directed threats to her, calling her a mother to a dog. This hurt more than the hundreds of times I got death threats.”

These are the words of a homosexual communications specialist, who came out more than 10 years ago. He keeps most of his affairs private, keeping a tight circle of friends to stay safe. Before coming out, he went for therapy, hoping that his sexuality would change after counselling, a period he terms as the darkest time of his life.

Other people have, however, chosen to stay closeted for their own safety.

Letoya Johnstone, who is proudly homosexual, says the main reason people stay closeted is stigma, which leads to threats, forceful evictions and unemployment.

"Many gay people are closeted for many reasons, including fear and shame because they have not made peace with their true identity,” he said.

DATING OPPOSITE SEX

As a result, a section of gay people will live heterosexual lives, married with kids, working normal jobs, only having homosexual relationships in secret. Others get into arranged heterosexual relationships, informing their spouses of their true self and using them to hide their true identity.

“I was in an arranged relationship once because I was scared to come out,” says a homosexual man from Nairobi."

"She was fine with being my false partner because I had not come out to my family and friends,” he says, adding that he has no sexual attraction to women.

Coming out, gay people say, is a private experience, involving gender identity revelation both to self and to the world. Even though it is aimed at giving gay people pride in themselves, gay people have experienced oppression after coming out in several sections of the world.

Paul* (not his real name) says most of the scarring experiences he has gone through in life are as a result of people knowing his gender identity. Had he known the negative implications of coming out, he would have remained closeted.

Letoya Johnstone, however, is tired of hiding. He faces the challenges of forceful evictions, unemployment and threats to his life one at a time. Letoya sometimes retreats to his rural home to re-energise, hoping that one day, same-sex relationships will be legal in Kenya for him to be free.