When a homophobic family evicts a gay son, the story can have a happy ending. Here’s how.
EXCLUSIVE REPORT. Without your support, homophobic abuses will continue, but reporting like this will stop.
By Steeve Winner
Thirteen-year-old Barleys was evicted from his family home last month in Yaoundé, Cameroon, immediately after the family learned that he was attracted to boys. His father, Sim, looked on passively as Barleys’ step-mother threw him out.
The eviction occurred on Feb. 16 after Barleys confided in his friend Joss, 15, about his feelings for boys. Family members overheard the two boys’ conversation.
(All the names in this article are pseudonyms.)
Joss asked his father, Louis, to allow Barleys to stay overnight at their house. Louis agreed. Luckily for Barleys, Louis is a psychologist who was able to use his training to help restore Barleys’ relationship with his family.
The next morning, Feb. 17, Louis accompanied Barleys back home, where they were greeted with gloomy and inquiring glances. He asked to talk to Barleys’ parents.
Sim and his wife appeared with worried looks on their faces. They spoke politely to Louis.
He asked them why they had expelled Barleys.
Sim explained that they had learned that his son was a homosexual, which made him angry.
Louis reminded the parents that Barleys is just a child. He described Barleys as a human being who is trying to understand what is happening to him. Sexual feeling is unique to each individual, he said, and it is just one aspect of sexuality.
Adolescence is a time when a person needs attention, support and understanding from his relatives. Without that, the consequences can be damaging, he said.
Moreover, no one should throw away his child on the basis of his sexual difference. Such differences are natural, Louis told Sim.
Instead, a parent should accompany the child in the construction of his future life through a good education.
Barleys’ parents listened carefully. They told Louis that they considered the eviction of Barleys to be only a disciplinary correction. They admitted that they had been overly sensitive and had not understood what was going on.
Then they agreed to allow Barleys to return home.
Louis assured them that, as a psychologist, he would keep an eye on Barleys to make sure he did not become unbalanced.
Steeve Winner, the author of this article, is a Cameroonian LGBTI rights activist who writes under a pseudonym.