Aunt Tiwo and his partner, Steve Monjeza remain the only Malawian men who were publicly recognized and described as gay. Theirs was a love story that sadly ended in arrest and public humiliation. They were presented and treated as criminals and as a joke to and by the general public. That was eleven years ago and things haven’t really changed that much. Our stories are never told, not in a positive light anyway, we are never recognized as part of the community, and most times we are disassociated from our own stories. My name is Andreas, I am a Malawian gay man and I am living my truth.
Growing up, I always knew I was different from other kids. I remember when I was around nine years old, when all my peers said they would marry girls when they grow up, I innocently shared that I wanted to marry another boy. Later in my teens, it became clear to me that I was in fact Gay, of course, as a kid then, I didn’t know the labels. As a teenager, it became really hard for me as i struggled with my identity and feelings. I was stuck between living my truth and meeting the societal standards where males date and marry females and vice versa. I tried dating girls just to keep up with what is still considered normal, but that never worked out. I went for prayers seeking deliverance after everyone described homosexuality as something demonic. Nothing changed, I still remained a boy who was attracted to fellow boys.
I later learned that the best thing to do was to accept myself, luckily enough my family was and still is very supportive. Even though it took my family some time to find out that I am gay, they were supportive and not once did they make me feel alone or ridiculed. I was lucky to have been raised by such a beautiful and loving Christian family. It wasn’t surprising though that in finding myself, I ended up losing some of my friends but I am thankful for the ones that stuck around.
I am always shocked by the discrimination I face just because I am gay. I vividly remember one time when a police officer approached me at a drinking joint only to threaten me that he would arrest me because I am a disgrace to society and I must not be around people. He called me names in front of my friends and other people. Until this day, I don’t remember ever feeling so low and humiliated in my life. The Malawi we live in now is a bit different from the Malawi of eight yrs. ago, things are slowly changing and some people are understanding that some people are born different. But not everyone understands, I still get insults and attacks on social media for being the way I am.
Most people in Malawi have a mindset that being gay is a western thing. They also claim that we are not really gay, we just do it for money. Their theory is backed up when they see gay guys living what is considered a “good life”. They are quick to conclude that we are being given money to be gay which is just too crazy, we are just living our truth.
I wish the government would stop running whenever the legalization of homosexuality and same-sex marriages topic is brought up. We will forever be labeled criminals and not human beings who are just exercising their rights. The government and people must learn to respect each and every individual living. We say this is a democratic country, we all fought for our freedom in one way or the other so why must we turn a blind eye when other groups of people are being marginalized?
I always hear Malawi is a God-fearing nation, are we really a God-fearing nation? Why is it that it becomes a God-fearing nation only when an issue of homosexuality is brought up? There is a lot of evil going on in this country, but everyone turns a blind eye because such kind of evil has been normalized. Our energy as a country is misdirected, we should be fighting and addressing corruption, rape, the killing of people with albinism, not someone’s sexual orientation.
I would like to see a rainbow in Malawi where everyone is respected and treated equally despite their sexuality or skin color. Malawi is a God-fearing nation, yes? so let’s all live by example and love one another. By telling my story, I am not only doing it for myself, I am glad that I have a voice, and it’s unfortunate that a lot of LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual and/or Ally) are voiceless. We need change!