Kenya: The double life of a gay man married for 20 years

As a young boy, I was shy and felt more comfortable relating to girls. I played skipping rope and preferred to cook or knit instead of playing football, Morris* told The Star. “I found an escape route when I became a 'born again' Christian. I constantly hid behind my religious convictions,” he says. He prayed and fasted, but his attraction to men increased alarmingly.

Morris rose through the ranks in his church, the pressure to get married increased not only from his parents but also from the church community. I thought I could ‘cure’ myself if I just married a lady from church. He was eventually compelled to marry his girlfriend at the time, whom he admits that he did not love.

And 20 years and four children later, Morris is still married — and still gay. Like any responsible father, he says he loves his children unreservedly and that his sexuality has not in any way affected his relationship with them. But the guilt of living a lie was so overwhelming that Morris decided to leave the church. Relationship counsellor and sexologist, Faith Mwangagi says there are many gay men who are married to women. And more often than not, their wives know about it.

“I have had a woman come to me and say she had no idea that her husband was gay. But after a few sessions, she confessed that she had seen the signs and chosen to ignore them,” she says. Mwangangi says it is not easy for gay people to declare their homosexuality because of fear of reprisal (some have been physically attacked) and rejection on grounds that such sexual orientation is 'unnatural and un-African'.

“History hides a lot of what went on in African traditional society. Homosexuality did exist in traditional Africa. It was not the white man who brought it here. If anything, there are quite a number of sexual practices they took from us.”

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