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July 6, 2022 @ 1:30 pm - Christian Dating reviews

So I dumped him and started dating a cute guy

Then something happened that she didn’t anticipate. Leila’s brother went through her phone and found the text she had sent to her friend.

“Mum cried. I cried. We convinced ourselves it was a phase. She asked me to make an effort to be be ‘normal’. I said I would.”

But when he looked at her quizzically, she says the full realisation of who she is hit her. I am a lesbian, Leila told herself.

But she still hoped there would be a way out of it. She prayed. She meditated. She became angry with herself.

“Every gay person comes out twice,” says Leila. “You first come out to yourself. You have the moment when you realise that there is no going back. This is you. You are gay. Your plans and expectations for what you thought life would be need to adjust. Then there is the second coming out, the public coming out, to the people around you.”

When she came out to herself, Leila began to look for other gay people. She doubted there would be women like her in Burundi, but she searched videos on Facebook and YouTube seeking lesbians in other countries.

Her next step was to explain to her mother that it wasn’t a phase – a hetrosexual life was not for her.

Initially her mother took it badly. But as the days passed she began to ask more questions. Leila’s father was more supportive than she expected.

They could protect her while she was in the family home, but they could not guarantee her safety outside if the wrong people found out.

Luck and the internet

“We started talking at lunch,” says Niya. “Within that conversation, we knew that we were the same. There was a shorthand, a recognition.”

“It’s hard to describe how exactly gay people meet each other in Africa,” says Leila. “You don’t have a lesbian hotspot that you can Google – a known place we can meet up.

“You become an expert in picking up vibes from each other, because so much of your communication is non-verbal. You become an expert in body language, eye contact.”

“We don’t have dating apps, but we have social media,” says Niya. “There are certain shorthands there too. A meme we may have picked up from somewhere else, or a coded phrase. Nothing that anyone else outside the lesbian community would ever be able to pick up on.”

Leila, Niya – and later Nella – formed a community. Now there are dozens of women who see themselves as Burundi’s secret lesbian collective. Some have support from their families. A few are married with children. No-one is openly out.

Burundi is well known in the Great Lakes for its vibrant nightlife. Bujumbura has fewer than 500,000 inhabitants, but maintains a vivid youth culture.

The city, with its colonial-era Art Deco buildings surrounding a market, a football stadium and places of worship, sits on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

The country has been home to bouts of conflict since independence in 1962. But today, for many young people enjoying the nightlife in Bujumbura, those tensions feel another lifetime away.

Tourists from neighbouring Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo can be found enjoying the nightlife in the clubs or the five-star hotel bars.

Leila, Niya, Nella and their friends would often meet at these places. But listening to each other’s life stories led to a sombre realisation.

Dark side

In 2009, the government signed into law a new criminal code penalising same-sex relations between consenting adults. Penalties include imprisonment of up to two years and/or a fine of up to 100,000 francs (US$55).

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