- All over the world, folks are marching down streets in spandex and
feathers, waving rainbow banners and flags, making gratuitous public
displays of same sex affection as they celebrate their Pride of being
Gay. And Lesbian and Trans and Bi and Pan and Poly and A and Inter.
Except here in the Faso. So I've been doing a little soul-searching,
trying to sort through my feelings, discovering my inner child, cause
that's what one does in Peace Corps. And my inner child is saying to
me, DAMN, philippe, you need to get some asssss! It also came up with
the following deep reflections on being gay in Burkina:
AN ABBREVIATED HISTORY OF PHILIPPE
I had a little dilemma when I landed in Burkina almost a year ago.
Just after landing, in fact. I had this rainbow pin on my backpack.
I'd placed it there when I was in the midst of coming out my freshman
year of college four years prior, back when I was becoming a
poster-child for gay pride. I was gay, and I wanted everyone to know
about it, goddamn it! It was my time to come out and be proud and
maybe finally find myself a boyfriend or two. Or three or four. I
was gonna come out and get lots of love. I was 18, and my purity
score was embarassingly high. I even went on MTV to spread the word
that I, Philippe André Gosselin, am gay. [wild, spontaneous
applause, and a couple of cat-calls. Work it, honey!] That's not
what I said on MTV, but that's the message that got out nevertheless.
You'd be surprised how fast the word gets around once you go and say
it on MTV.
So, my first semester at college, the modest rainbow ribbon got pinned
to my backpack and it'd been there ever since, following me everywhere
I went. Now I had landed in Africa, and was pulling out my backpack
that had been neatly stowed under the seat in front of me with my
tray-table in the upright and locked position and my seatback fully
erect. And there was the rainbow. Shit... whaddoIdo, Toto,
whaddoIdo? I couldn't just take it off. Well, I suppose I could, but
what kind of a statement would that be making? Perhaps this hesitancy
needs some explaining.
You see, if I learned one thing in my years amongst the
hyper-politicized neo-hippie fascists at Wesleyan, it was that
everything you do, whether you mean it or not, is a political
statement. The way you dress, cut your hair, who you sleep with and
how, who you talk with, who you meet with, the "political spaces" you
create, the way you sneeze, tie your shoes, the way you do the things
you do, it all implies a political statement of sorts. And you have
to be oh so careful about the political statements you make. Thus,
the intellectual discourse on campus went something like as follows:
"You offend me."
"No, YOU offend ME!
"No, you are offensive!"
"No, I am offended! And if you respond, that's also offensive!"
"Don't silence my voice!"
"Don't silence MY voice, you
"Don't oppress me with your labels!"
"You think YOU'RE oppressed?!"
...etcetera, etcetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
At Wesleyan I also learned that students at prestigious liberal arts
schools are full of shit. So I guess that's two things.
But then why was I so troubled by the statement I'd be making by
removing my pin after all these years? I was over those days of gay
this, gay that, everything is gay gay gay! (or "queer queer queer" if
you want to fit in at Wes) I'd let go of the cause to some extent
(though my mom has taken it up in my place). Here I was, embarking on
a journey that could be two years of my life... I knew I wasn't gonna
be able to be out and proud in Burkina like I'd grown accustomed to
since I started college. I knew I was making some sacrifices by
coming here. But it was tough, thinking that I would be letting go of
a part of me that had come to be as much of me as anything else.
Could I really just put it away for two years?
Actually, that's not where the story begins. Why on earth did I end
up joining the Peace Corps in the first place? Well, for starters,
I'm a saint. That's a given. And joining the Peace Corps is just
what saints do. But saints have needs too, you know. This saint
first started feeling those needs around the tender, confused young
age of 13. You see, back then I was feeling young, confused, and
Ok, we're gonna skip all that and go straight to this summary of my
past 10 years:
High school: Nothin. Get into gayest college possible.
Freshman year: Out of the closet and ready for love. Come 'n get me!
Sophomore year: Right then, I'll settle for hookups. Nothin. Well
screw Wesleyan I'm going abroad! But first...
Summer in LA: Nothin. But smog. And horrible public transportation.
Fall abroad in Paris: Nothin.
Spring abroad in Madrid: Nothin.
Summer in New York: Nothin.
Senior year: Nothin. By this time I was starting to see a trend. A
whole lot of Nothin can bring a saint down. Even a handsome ripped
saint with the body of an adonis. What good is a body with nothing to
rub it up against? Where did I go wrong? One night, while
procrastinating a paper, the saint had a lightbulb go off over the
glowing ring above his head. Everybody always says this sort of
somethin somethin happens when you least expect it, and here I am
looking in all the most obvious places! Going to a queer school (if
there ever was one), doing summer internships in gay indie film,
studying abroad in romantic capitals of Europe... Please! How
Why don't I join the Peace Corps? I certainly won't expect it there,
sweating in a mud hut doing saintly things somewhere in Africa. It'll
set me up perfectly.
Pre-departure Summer in San Francisco: Ka-CHING! DING DING DING DING
DING DING! Tika Tika Tika Tika Tika! (also, it was freezing)
But by this time, I'd already accepted the invitation to Peace Corps
and had a one way plane ticket to Ouagadougou with my name on it.
Leaving in 2 weeks. Paradise gained... paradise lost.
Lest I leave a less than honest impression, I'll admit that I wasn't
entirely innocent before I reached San Francisco. And I must say I
was very fortunate to have experienced all these places despite
finding myself hard up in all of them. But folks have had better
luck, too. I joked to myself, Sure, you're probably gonna have to be
celibate for two years, but it can't be any worse than Wesleyan! One
year later, I find myself eating those very words, because I've got
nothing better to eat; furthermore, they were untrue. Oh, how very
naive I once was.
DANCIN' IN THE MOONLIGHT
Within our first week of training we had a session detailing the risks
of coming out in Burkina, or accidently outing other volunteers. It's
a small country, word could get around. And since the country is
heavily Christian and Muslim, the only logical thing to do if you
discover a man prefers men is to ostracize and possibly beat him. I
mean, what else is there to do? Go on with your life?
This said, nobody will ever suspect you to be anything but straight.
People have heard of homosexuality before, but they assume it's
something only freaky frenchmen do. It's perfectly acceptable for
same sex buddies to walk around holding hands in public, cuddle and
caress, and to do some heavy and obscene bumping and grinding on the
dance floor. Just as long as you don't seem to enjoy it TOO much. On
the other hand, for opposite sex couples to do the same in public is
considered quite scandalous and inappropriate. Amen to that, I say!
Keep the breeding in the bedroom, you perverts!
It's a little disconcerting at first to see two young men walking hand
in hand through the market, or sitting with their hands on each
other's thighs, or leaning a head on a shoulder, or making out in a
corner. I find myself wondering, Where am I?? Ok, so there's no
making out. But the rest is perfectly common. And how refreshing!
Nobody could get away with that at home. Men have to keep a 5 foot
radius between themselves and other men, watch how they dress and what
music they listen to how they speak and be sure not to bleach their
hair, or they set off a gay alarm. (*krchshshs* We have a suspected
code Pink, please call for backup. Confirm that. Man with tight jeans
and excessive hair gel listening to Christina. Designer underwear
label showing. That's code pink, over. *krshschsch*) That's why it's
so liberating to just come out and forget about all the bullshit. I
feel sorry for the straight men in America, all the self-censoring
they have to do lest they raise suspicions. Here you do anything,
wear anything (or possibly nothing) and nobody blinks an eye. All that
registers is: LOOK, A WHITIE!
One evening during training while I was living in a host family in
Boussouma, I was hanging out with my host brothers and some of their
neighborhood friends, sitting on a bench outside of the courtyard, by
the millet field. The moon was shining, the millet stalks waving, and
there was a crackling radio playing some slow jazz. My oldest host
brother, around 19, is a tall handsome guy, and that night looked
rather like Tiger Woods, wearing a baseball cap and a polo shirt
tucked into khakis. Barefoot of course. He took the hand of one of
the smaller more raggedly dressed neighbor boys and started to twirl
him around to the music. They laughed as they twirled, and then they
settled into each others arms into a swaying slow dance. The radio,
the moon, the stars, the breeze, two boys just dancing out in the
field as the rest of us sat and watched. I was mesmerized. I'll be
damned if it wasn't the most romantic thing I've ever seen.
[pause for reflective sigh]
[deeper, slightly melancholy sigh]
[sharp, conclusive sigh]
It didn't matter that I didn't get a turn. Just watching was enough
to fill this deep, longing hole in my... if only for a moment... I'm
sorry, I can't go on. [blows nose into microphone] Can we turn the
cameras off? Can we get someone to come fix my makeup?
THERE'S A TINY HETEROSEXUAL DEEP INSIDE EVERY ONE OF US BURSTING TO
So began my rebirth as a straight man. Sometimes volunteers make up
stories about a "certain someone" back home to stave off overzealous
suitors or the inevitable questions that arise. But I wanted to
retain at least a modicum of honesty, so arriving in village I began
with a tactic of subtle evasion: ARE YOU MARRIED? No. WHY NOT?
Cause I don't want to be. Look, a goat! WHY NOT? Cause I don't have a
girlfriend. How bout this heat? WHY NOT? Jesus, I dunno... Women are
too complicated! Sure is a hot one, huh?
Of course, such answers, like claiming you don't have a religion, just
make no sense to the villagers. And so they nagged and nagged until I
finally decided, ok, just say whatever it takes to satisfy them. I
never bothered to make up a story, so I can never keep my answers
straight. ...erm, consistent.
DON'T YOU WANT AN AFRICAN WIFE? I've already got a wife. YOU SAID
YOU WERE A BACHELOR. Did I? Sometimes I forget... She's so very far
away. SO YOU HAVE A WIFE IN AMERICA, WHY NOT A WIFE IN AFRICA TOO?
She's a jealous jealous wife. SHE'LL NEVER KNOW. YOU HAVE NEEDS!
Lord, don't I know it! HOW ABOUT A GIRLFRIEND? Already got one of
those, too. You know Imane? WILL YOU MARRY MY DAUGHTER? Your
daughter's 6. SO? You know what, you're right. Age is an arbitrary
thing. I'll marry her after these other 4 girls that have been
bestowed upon me.
When I went to visit my neighbor Imane's village in the beginning, we
made a show of our separate sleeping arrangements. Imane actually does
have a fiancé back home, and it would be no good if her villagers
thought she was some kind of slut. Look, people! He's sleeping on the
porch! But of course, deny as we might any romantic or physical
involvement, people will assume what they want to assume. So now if
somebody asks if there's anything between us, the answer is No, we're
just fucking. What other reason could we have for seeing each other?
Unfortunately because I can't be open and honest, in village I feel
like a horribly lame version of myself. When I can't make comments
about hot guys or complain about not getting ass, what is there left
to talk about? The weather? Goats? It just isn't any fun. Not to
mention I'm one lonely and randy rabbit.
In a way though it's easier here. Sure, the desire is still there,
unrequited as always, but I came without expecting to find anything or
anyone. And how nice it is to have my expectations met, for once in
my life! Whereas usually my thoughts have been along the lines of:
This sucks! I can't believe I can't even find me a man in Paris! Now
I simply think: This sucks! It's a subtle difference, but you see,
finding a man here is beyond my control, and therefore I'm completely
justified in whining incessantly while making no efforts to rectify
the situation. There's simply nothing I can do. Which is actually
quite a relief. Or possibly a releif. No, relief.
Ok, I admit that while I fully expected the gay scene in Burkina to be
about as barren as the landscape, I secretly hoped Peace Corps would
be teeming with progressive homosexual studs like myself. What young
gay man wouldn't want to leave behind the gyms, the clothes, the clubs
and the hair gel to come live in poverty in the remotest place on
earth? Apparently not quite as many as I thought. Instead, I find
myself in the company of a group of
straightwhiteuppermiddleclassheterosexistmonogamist OPPRESSORS. But
they're Ok once you get to know them.
These hopes dashed, I was no longer expecting love. (You hear that
love? I'm not expecting you! Look at me, twiddling my thumbs,
reading a book. I daresay, this is probably the moment in my life
where I've expected you the least! ...) But nor did I expect to
arrive in Africa and be consumed by lust! All we ever hear about
Africa back home is genocide, famine, disease, poverty. Am I missing
anything? Exotic wildlife. So of course, I imagined I'd be living
amongst poverty-stricken, disease-ridden, war-torn starving folks. And
elephants. Does the news ever mention that in addition to all these
things, there are also hot men in Africa? Never. News flash! There
are some seriously hot men in Africa! Not just because it's 110
degrees! And some of them even have damn nice teeth! This all came
as quite a surprise to me. Perhaps the growing attraction is a
natural part of acclimating to new people and surroundings. Or maybe
it's due to a condition I've developed known as "desperation." I
don't know. All I do know is when I go play shirts and skins soccer,
my eyes aren't on the shirts. Nor are they on the ball. Rather
they're glued to the many topless muscly torsos writhing and twisting
and flexing under smooth black sweat-drenched skin glimmering by the
light of the setting sun... And then I get hit in the face with the
ball, which has happened enough times that I've taken to just sitting
and watching with the people on the sidelines. Lust hurts, man.
Ouch... Or as they say here, "WHYYYYYYY!"
After months and months of being heterosexual, I found my beautiful
gay rainbow flower slowly, sadly wilting inside of me, with no Diana
Ross to rejuvinate it. I needed to know I was not alone on this
continent. So when I found myself on an unexpected extended medical
leave in Dakar, I decided to do some snooping around. Senegal may not
be the land of plenty, but like almost every other country in the
world, it's got way more going for it than Burkina. Because Senegal,
and Dakar in particular, is so much more developed, internet cafés
more popular and widespread and allow for gay folk to find their
fellow family (not to mention fornicate). After some google forays, I
sent off an e-mail to the head of Dakar's underground gay organization
explaining who I was and how I was hoping to learn about the gay
community here. Surely enough, he responded and we set up a
rendez-vous for an informal chat. It wasn't til later that he told me
he'd had to ask special permission from the board of the underground
organization to meet up with me, an outsider, and share his story,
with the hope that I could provide some help... I'd stumbled across
some deep shit, man.
I arrived by taxi at the appointed hour and place. We were to meet at
a busy intersection. I wasn't sure how I'd be able to pick this guy
out, cause all I knew was that there was a good chance he'd be black.
And in Dakar I wasn't the only whitie walking the streets. But I
needn't have worried: The man had a flame brighter than the African
sun. He had the lisp, the wrist, the swagger, the look. You work it,
sistah! I was nervous and excited as he led me to a more private
spot, a nondescript restaurant/bar/club down the street. This was my
first contact with family in Africa...! I wanted to know all about
We were seated in a private corner. My contact--I'll call him "Deep
Throat"--or better yet, Z--told me that the server was safe, aka in
the loop, and the server sat in on parts of our conversation. We
ordered beers and I asked away. Turns out the situation for gays in
Senegal is much more precarious than in Burkina. The gay identity
there is much more salient, and the government officially condemns it.
Men in Dakar don't hold hands or bump and grind on the dance floor
because of the possibility they'll be labeled. Gays have to be very
careful how they meet up and be very discrete in their appearance,
which I realized must make life awfully tough for guys with flamboyant
traits like Z.
He formed the group about 5 years ago, with a goal of providing a
social meeting space for gays in Dakar. They've since expanded their
mission to include HIV/AIDS education for its members and political
activism, trying to reverse government persecution and abolish a law
forbidding homosexual relations. Since they're officially banned from
meeting, it all takes place in secret, communicating through word of
mouth, email and phone. It started out with 50 members, but now has
over 1000, 400 of whom live in the capital. Z told me the membership
includes gay men, bisexuals, and lesbians. Many of them are married,
some are sex workers.
Because of his position as head of the organisation and his efforts to
get support from various non-governmental organizations, he
inadvertantly became something of a public figure in Senegal. A
couple years ago, he was attacked and severely beaten by a group of
people on the street. He went to the hospital, but they refused to
treat him after they discovered his identity. He had to go into
hiding and managed to escape to France for 6 months.
The law used to persecute gays, Article 219, was put in place by the
French during colonial times, and it still exists in all of their
former African colonies, though somehow not in Burkina. It's actively
enforced in Senegal. Z gave me the example of two of his friends who
were arrested on trumped up charges of public sex while they were
sitting together in a park that had a reputation of being a cruising
spot. The possible punishment is between 1 month and 2 years in
prison, and they were both condemned to 2 years. They weren't even
allowed to speak in their own defense at the tribunal. Z told me that
nobody bothers to refute the judgements because the society's attitude
is, "They're gays, they deserve it." Z's organization also helps its
members who are AIDS patients find people who will agree to treat
them, because they're often refused treatment at local hospitals or
clinics. Even organizations like Amnesty International have offered
nothing but sympathy for these injustices, claiming that if they help
the gay community it would sully their relations with the government
would harm their capacity for addressing other abuses. Other NGOs have
refused help and funding for similar reasons. For instituting all this
homophobic discrimination and persecution, we've got the Frogs to
thank. DAMN THOSE DIRTY FRENCH AND THEIR TOAST!
Speaking of toast, by this point in the conversation the beer had
reached my head, and I was feeling a little toasty. It was wonderful
to finally be in the company of somebody I could relate to on a deeper
level than the weather. I felt my supressed activist tendencies
boiling back up, and I had saintly visions of myself taking these
people under my wing, getting them condoms, books, funding for an
office, helping them form a network with other gay groups in Africa,
publish a website, educate the gay community about AIDS and STIs, get
them treatment. Maybe I could even help a group in Burkina get on its
feet. In Peace Corps I've gone between feelings of being mildly to
completely useless. But now here was something I could be passionate
about, working with people I have a connection to, who I care about,
and who I can possibly help, somehow, and maybe get laid doing it...
We've got a whole big family in Africa who are struggling to find
their own sense of pride, and if only we could all get together and
hold hands and sing Kumbaya, it would be so beautiful...
Then the server brought over the bill for the 2 beers, and that
brought me out of my buzzed idealistic stupor awful quick. I'd
invited Z, so of course I was paying. The bill was for $12. Two
beers in Burkina cost about $2, and in Dakar it's normally only a
little more. Maybe it doesn't sound like much, and to any other whitie
in Dakar it wouldn't be, but $12 was my entire day's living allowance,
and I still had taxis and food to pay for. This for a volunteer who's
looking to help you? Z, perhaps noticing the look of shock on my face,
said he'd already paid up a bit to ensure we wouldn't be disturbed,
put he offered to put in $2 as I laid down a ten. We said goodbyes,
and I left with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I realized,
though, as I was going away, that this was just another hurdle Z and
his group had to deal with, paying dearly for the privilege of being
able to meet and speak openly without trouble.
Z told me he has a contact with Burkinabé doctor who was trying to
establish a group in Ouaga. Unfortunately, my attempts to follow up
with him have gone unanswered, and so, to this day, I'm left high and
dry in Burkina.
AN INDECENT PROPOSAL
After returning from Senegal, I started wondering, is there really
nothing I can do, no way to find these people? They've gotta be out
there. Probably even in my village. I set my gay-dar on high alert,
but didn't pick up anything. I did note some suspicious activity one
day, when I spotted a group of three young guys taking turns showering
in a cement brick shower out in the open near the clinic. The ones
who weren't showering were hanging around, chatting, leaning against
the shower wall, and, I dunno, man, it looked like the dudes were
checking each other out as they took their turns getting nekkid!
Unfortunately there was no way to go verify this nonchalantly.
One evening, around this time, I was chilling with Souleymane after
he'd given me a Mooré lesson. We were sitting around, shooting the
shit, staring off into space, casually nudging each other's arms. As
you may already know, I'd developed a bit of a crush. Souleymane holds
hands and gives affection along with all the other boys, but
unfortunately, since I'm a Nassarra, I'm not generally included in
these displays. (Nor have I ever been a participant in the dance-floor
bumping and grinding. Well... unless you count that one drunken night
down in the south...) Souley and I have graduated to an occasional
hand on the knee, though, which I'm happy for. On this particular
evening, we're sitting silently, I'm trying to detect signs of sexual
tension, and then he blurts out, "Have you ever slept in a mud hut?"
Umm, no... (my house is made of cement bricks and a tin roof--not
technically a hut) "Well then you'll have to come over and we'll spend
the night together some time." Well! Whoa there, Souley! Nobody's
ever tried that pick up line on me before. Could this be the love
connection I'd been waiting for? I mean, not at all expecting? I was
skeptical of course, but amused by the possibility that his invitation
was something more. And so were other parts of me.
As I got up to leave, my backpack carefully positioned in front of me,
one of the wives in his family said something to me, which Souleymane
translated. "She asked if you were going to stay the night and sleep
with me. She'll feed us Tô." And then one of the dads asked,
you going to sleep here?" So his family was in on this too? I was a
little taken aback, though this probably meant the whole thing was an
innocent sleepover. But who knows? Maybe this sort of thing happens
all the time. Maybe his family obviously saw the tension between us
and thought, please! Just sleep with him already! It could happen.
But I figured, well, the least I'll get out of the deal is some
innocent cuddling. And I could sure use it. Anything more would be
just a pleasant surprise. A very pleasant surprise.
Souley was building himself a new hut at the time, and it was still
missing some things, like a door, so he said when it's finished he'd
invite me over. It was finished a couple weeks later, and he took me
on a tour. It wasn't a very long tour. But we sat on his bed, and he
said, "See, my new hut is a little distanced from all the other ones.
So we can have fun without being bothered by all the kids." HOLD UP
THERE! What did he mean by "have fun"? Because where I come from,
that would be a blatant come-on. But what do I know? I stuck to my
policy of zero-expectations, but I was a little giddy thinking about
it. And so were other parts of me. That backpack comes in handy.
Eventually, with a little prodding from myself (remember...? when you
told me...?) the day came that he invited me to stay. We'd gone out
into the bush for our Mooré lesson, out to a spot where the
are. We didn't spot any, but we took pictures and had perfectly
romantic time of it. We went back to his family's courtyard, I
watched the kids play while he bathed and walked around without his
shirt. He cooked me beans, and we ate, and it got dark and we sat and
talked. "So, do you want to sleep inside the hut, or outside on a
mat?" Well... inside, of course! "Allright, in that case I'll sleep
outside on the mat." I was too flummoxed to respond... WHAT? Aren't
we at least gonna cuddle? Cuz dude, I really need to. You have no
idea how much I was looking forward to it!
He brought me inside, lit a lamp as I stripped to my boxers, and asked
if I needed anything, like a good host. Aren't you gonna come sleep
inside?, I finally asked, trying not to sound terribly disappointed or
forward or needy. "Why, are you scared?" Ummm... yeah. He laughed.
"Don't be scared. I'll sleep outside until it gets cold and then I'll
come in and we'll sleep together. Don't worry." Ok then. Was this a
good sign? Maybe he was sleeping outside just for show, and then at
the stroke of midnight he'd come inside and strip down and he would
rock my world. Or at least hold me close. Ah.... I tried to fall
I got up a couple times in the night to pee. Midnight, he was fast
asleep outside the door. I made as much noise as I could coming back,
but he didn't stir. 2am, same. 4am, I was fast awake. Dude, it's
gonna be dawn soon. Should I wake him up? Would that be obviously
desperate? Well, I wasn't gonna get another chance, so I opened the
door and called to him. Souley, aren't you gonna come inside? "Oh...
yes, ok." He put away his mat, came in, and crashed on the bed fully
dressed with his back to me. He was on the very edge, leaving a good
6 inches between us, and he stayed that way. NOOOOOOOOO!!!
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Well, shit.
Souley was up with the sun 45 minutes later, along with the rest of
the family. I got up and dressed after stewing in my disappointment a
little while longer. "So how was the night?" Souley asked, smiling.
Amazing, Souley, just Amazing. He asked if I wanted leftover beans
for breakfast, but I declined. "You're gonna invite me over to your
place one night, right?" Ha ha... Sure, souley! Let's see... Now
it's way to hot to sleep inside, but I got this one-man tent... Of
course we can both fit! Please, this is Africa! I'll take your
clothes. All of them. Now you go ahead and crawl in. I'll just lube
up and...slide right in on top! I'm sorry, there's really no other
place to put my hand. Now, let's see... Put your arm here... move
your leg around this way... slide my arm here... slip on this
condom... and there we go! Comfy?
Would you believe a few days after our Night of More Nothin', I saw
Souley all over a guy in the market. They were holding hands, leaning
on wooden posts together, hands around the back... He even did the
"ha ha ha, you said something funny and now I'm leaning in and
touching your chest" move. Souleymane, you bitch! It didn't help
that the guy was incredibly handsome and dressed better than me. I
asked Souley the next day during our lesson who the guy was. Oh, just
the son of the new chief. I've given him the cold shoulder ever
since. But I still grab his knee sometimes.
And so, my gay life in burkina faso canned be summed up in a word:
zip. Will it be so for yet another year? Will I manage to stay that
long? Stay tuned.
Would you believe it, I just had a beer with a gay former volunteer
who's returned after 2 years away to visit his Burkinabé lover. So
there's hope after all... But I'm not expecting it. Nope. No siree.
Oh, I almost forgot. What about the pin? Well, I took it off just
before we deplaned. And stuck it on the inside. Not that it would
have made a difference, as I discovered. I could go marching down the
street waving a huge rainbow flag wearing spandex rainbow shorts and
glitter and pink feathers in my mohawk and NOBODY KNOWS I'M GAY
painted across my chest and no one would have a clue. So maybe I
will. My Ouagadougou Gay Pride for one.