A teenager in Yaoundé, Cameroon, thought it was safe to confide in a friend about his sexual attraction to other boys. The next thing he knew, he had been thrown out of the family home by his stepmother while his father looked on.
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By Steeve Winner
The story began on Friday, Feb. 16, in the Nkolnda district of Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. Thirteen-year-old student Barleys was walking home with a neighbor, his close friend Joss, age 15. (Both of those names are pseudonyms.)
Barleys lives with his father and his stepmother, who often argued with him.
After school on Feb. 16, Barleys met at a neighborhood field to play soccer. When the game ended, Barleys and Joss walked home. On the way, they got into a heart-felt conversation. As part of that interchange, Barleys confided to Joss: “I don’t know why, but sometimes I have a feeling of being attracted by men. Is that normal?”
Joss told him, “No. That’s not normal. Boys are supposed to be attracted to girls. If you’re attracted to boys, that means you’re a faggot.”
Barleys did not reply, and Joss fell silent too. Without speaking a word, each boy went to his own house.
In the early evening, Joss went to Barleys’ house to talk more about what Barley had said.
As they were speaking, the stepmother listened. She decided that her stepson was a homosexual and therefore should be evicted from the house. She ordered this innocent 13-year-old boy to leave the home immediately.
His father heard what she was saying and did nothing to stop her.
Joss was horrified by what had happened. He invited Barleys back to his house. There they talked with Joss’s father, who is an open and accepting man. He agreed that Barleys could spend the night at his home.
The next morning, Joss and his father escorted Barleys back to his family. The two fathers had a long, private conversation. In the end, Barleys’ father agreed to allow his son to return home.
Steeve Winner, the author of this article, is a Cameroonian activist for LGBTI rights who writes under a pseudonym.
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- This blog’s archive of articles about Cameroon.