2008.06.16: June 16, 2008: Headlines: COS - Mozambique: Gay Issues: gaywired: Zachery Scott writes: Back to the Closet

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Mozambique: Peace Corps Mozambique : Peace Corps Mozambique: Newest Stories: 2008.06.16: June 16, 2008: Headlines: COS - Mozambique: Gay Issues: gaywired: Zachery Scott writes: Back to the Closet

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Zachery Scott writes: Back to the Closet

Zachery Scott  writes: Back to the Closet

The community here, like many in Africa, is very religious, with most people splitting off into Catholic, Muslim or Evangelical churches. So when push comes to shove, homosexuality is not tolerated. However, sometimes it feels like I've stepped back into the 1950ís where homosexuality isnít even discussed as an option to be vilified. I can deal with being in the minority of an argument, but what Iím not used to is complete silence and ignorance of a particular topic. It makes it significantly more difficult to bring up in conversation and gauge peopleís feelings. Which leads me to wonder if it should really even be a priority while I am serving in my community. I mean, with malnutrition, disease, poverty and unemployment taking up most of peopleís lives, is it really the time to start talking about a sexual revolution? Then again, maybe these discussions all play into a bigger picture; one of increased communication and awareness about our bodies, our sexuality and the opportunities and responsibilities that comes with each. The HIV virus spreads here, and in the United States, primarily because of lack of communication about sex and sexuality. I imagine I will have to wait for an opportunity to interject these issues openly into my daily discussions, but until then, I will cautiously enjoy holding hands and partaking in a different sort of intimacy that Iím used to. This might be tough though.

Zachery Scott writes: Back to the Closet

Letters from Southern Africa: Back to the Closet

A gay life in transition, from Weho to Southern Africa

By Zachery Scott | Article Date: 6/16/2008 12:30 AM

Seventeen. That was the age I came out of the closet while living in South Carolina. My girlfriend at the time had just left for college and my mother found some ďquestionableĒ (although there was really no question) photographs on the computer.

I came out to my family, we took about 24-hours to adjust and things have been fine since.

I have been lucky to be surrounded by supportive family and friends, which have allowed me to have a relatively normal sexual development and the courage to dabble in LGBT activism without fear of backlash.

Then I moved to Africa.

Granted, this was a completely premeditated decision and one I had been planning for many years. But maybe some of you can empathize with me when I say that there are some things you forget when you head back in the closet.

You are more conscious of the way you walk, talk, gesture or sit. Despite being comfortable with my ability to integrate into a sexually homogenous culture again, I still find myself being paranoid sometimes, obsessing over the most insignificant detail that could somehow reveal my inner secret.

The culture here adds another layer of uncertainty. Affection between men and women is almost nonexistent.

Instead, you see men holding hands with one another and demonstrating a level of closeness that would raise the eyebrows of most Americans. This is comforting, of course, to get affection even if it is non-emotional and regulated to just hand holding. So the rules have changed once again. I can show affection with men, but not too much, otherwise they might think IímÖ funny.

But maybe not.

The community here, like many in Africa, is very religious, with most people splitting off into Catholic, Muslim or Evangelical churches.

So when push comes to shove, homosexuality is not tolerated. However, sometimes it feels like I've stepped back into the 1950ís where homosexuality isnít even discussed as an option to be vilified.

I can deal with being in the minority of an argument, but what Iím not used to is complete silence and ignorance of a particular topic. It makes it significantly more difficult to bring up in conversation and gauge peopleís feelings.

Which leads me to wonder if it should really even be a priority while I am serving in my community. I mean, with malnutrition, disease, poverty and unemployment taking up most of peopleís lives, is it really the time to start talking about a sexual revolution?

Then again, maybe these discussions all play into a bigger picture; one of increased communication and awareness about our bodies, our sexuality and the opportunities and responsibilities that comes with each.

The HIV virus spreads here, and in the United States, primarily because of lack of communication about sex and sexuality. I imagine I will have to wait for an opportunity to interject these issues openly into my daily discussions, but until then, I will cautiously enjoy holding hands and partaking in a different sort of intimacy that Iím used to.

This might be tough though.

- Zachery Scott will be contributing his experiences in the Peace Corps every two weeks to GayWired.com. Be sure to check back for updates.




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Headlines: June, 2008; Peace Corps Mozambique; Directory of Mozambique RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Mozambique RPCVs; Gay Issues





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Story Source: gaywired

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Mozambique; Gay Issues

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