What I mean by this is that it would be easier to explain, be understood and empathised with by my family, friends and society if I said I was gay than being someone who doesn’t own stuff (nor want to), wanting to walk most places, often volunteer full-time, not aspire to investment and generally NOT living a life of big purchases, debt and time poverty.
The exception I must add here is that this statement is not true for the current country I am in as Uganda still sees homosexuality a criminal offence punishable by death!
Still being an aid worker, being someone who feels more comfortable in poverty than excess and being someone who values family, community and nature above material goods and a big house I think is harder for people to accept, understand and even appreciate.
It is quite a small group of people who actually understand that I am happier with less (material possessions) and know that this is the person that I am, and not someone who will grow out of it or come round to the mainstream way of life – buying a house, having a car and following the ways of most.
Don’t get me wrong here, I am not complaining or seeking more empathy or understanding I just really feel the concept of ‘less is more’ and ‘just enough is plenty’ is more of a foreign concept than people understanding being gay is not a problem or curable or wrong – it is just who someone is.
As I sit here in Africa it is very strange again to have the total disbelief and lack of understanding from the locals that I would choose to live in as simple conditions as possible, choose to walk the 5km to and from work each day, eat beans and maotoke (boiled plantain) and not be a rich Muzungu living a life of ‘luxury’. The best I can do here and hope to share with the west is that I appreciate so many aspects of the way of life here.
- Rich family life – connected, communal and caring
- Rich community life – sharing, understanding and laughter together
- Rich in culture, music, dancing, festivals, occasions, events and general get-togethers
- Rich in locally, fresh, organic, seasonal, tasty, natural food – very little processed or imported
- Rich in time – for family, for interruptions, for change, for others and for themselves
I’m painting the positive picture here and obviously there are the challenges of dying from diarrhoea etc that I also see but the above mentioned traits are the ones I believe developed countries can learn from and strive for – a Happy, simply way of life.
I know I have never had to face the persecution, violence and other significant actions as gay people have had in the past and still continue today but I do know that more people in my circles would better understand me if I was gay than the life I have chosen of happy, simplicity and a fulfilling life of service for others (and of course myself)…