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KENYA: Grace*, "I finally found the courage to ask, 'Are you gay’?”'

Photo: lst1984/Flickr
"We clicked immediately"
NAIROBI, 30 December 2010 (PlusNews) - Grace is an attractive brunette working in Nairobi. Until recently, she was dating Will, a stylish 20-something Kenyan. She told IRIN/PlusNews how the relationship broke down, leaving her with fears about HIV.

"I met Will about a year ago through a friend of mine. We clicked immediately and became friends. One thing led to another and we ended up dating.

"Things were going on smoothly between us; we had a great sex life and loved spending time together, but I somehow felt there was something odd in our relationship. I couldn't fully read through Will.

"One evening we were having drinks, discussing sex work in Kenya and men who deny that they fuel the trade. All of a sudden, Will looked at me and asked, 'What would you say if your man told you he's been cheating on you with another man?'

"The issue of homosexuality has never been taboo to me, so I simply told Will that cheating on me with a man would be the same to me as with another woman.

"I never confronted Will about the strange question, and we broke up soon after that.

"Weeks later we met at a concert and ended up chatting. He was about to leave, when I finally found the courage to ask, 'Are you gay?'

"That night we talked for hours - that's how long it took him to admit he is gay. I felt fooled and manipulated.

"Will and I don't see each other any more. He was too tangled in his own string of lies and guilt. I had no choice than walking away from him for my own sanity.

"This revelation forced me to go back to our sexual life and I could finally understand why he was obsessed with the use of condoms, which I never really experienced before with a man. I had always been the one pushing them to put the rubber on. With Will it was never the case.

"Sure, I also fear HIV but we were dating for a while now and I thought our relationship was now an exclusive one and we could do without one.

"I remember one night a condom broke and he became livid. I was much more casual about it and couldn't quite understand why he overreacted. I assured him that these things happen.

"But now I became worried about why he was so religious with condoms and why he went mad when the condom broke. Luckily, my HIV status is still negative, though I could not convince him to come and get tested with me.

"Apparently Will has known he is gay for years but can't come to terms with it. To his family and friends he's a ladies’ man - it's all about his macho image. He told me if he disclosed his sexual orientation, his whole family would turn their back on him.

"In a way, I understand his conflict between the possible benefits and drawbacks of disclosing his sexual orientation. But if on the one side there is the negative stigma of homophobia, on the other, coming out as openly gay would make him feel better with himself and stop him from living a lie.

"My fear is for the women he goes with; they should be aware of the risks they are taking, despite him being cautious. A condom can break and you need to know who you are with and that you are actually part of a more vulnerable group. His lies are dangerous lies."

*not her real name

cp/kr/cb

Theme(s): HIV/AIDS (PlusNews),

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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