By Tafadzwa Razemba, Zimbabwe:
Stewart felt the heaviness return.
For years, he had lived his life, as if it was in black and white. As if he had been thrown into a dark pit and no matter how hard he tried, he just could not get out. Sadness and despair were the order of the day. On the outside he smiled, seemed happy but inwardly, he felt that he was drowning. That giant wave after giant wave would come crashing into him, every time he surfaced. He had lived a life in chains tied to a force that no one could see but that he could sense daily.
This was until he met Jesus. When he met Him, it was as if a veil had been lifted from his eyes and the demons that sat on his shoulders had been thrown off. He felt lighter, free and truly joyful almost immediately. The yearnings for the things that disgusted him, but couldn't understand why he was so attracted to them, dissipated. He had no desire whatsoever for the things that had a hold on him previously and he truly was happy. For a while that is.
Stewart, known by everyone, as Stewie had never told anyone his deepest darkest secret. Even to his best friend Stephen. For as long as he could remember, he had struggled to make friends. Actually he had struggled to build any meaningful relationships with anyone. Maybe it stemmed from an unconscious distrust of men and an uncomfortable existence with women. The earliest idea of friendship Stewie had, was of him and his young friends, huddled together doing things they knew were dirty. They did them none the less, because one of the boys was just showing him what his male teacher had shown him. Stewie, for most of his life, felt so different from other young children and he grew up to be very lonely. He overcompensated, allowing himself to be taken advantage of, in the hopes of finding a genuine friend. This search for friendship, usually led him to trouble.
Stephen was his best friend, if not his only real friend. He met him at church, just after he got born again, when he joined the band. Stephen was the band leader and lead drummer, with Stewie being the lead bass player. Stephen, as most drummers tend to be, was a popular and likeable person. Everybody gravitated towards him; church leadership, mothers, the youth, girls in church, and girls outside of church – you name it, everybody liked Stephen. Stephen was also very passionate about God and the church, which probably amplified his amiability. Although, he was a non-judgmental, compassionate and kind man, Stewie could never tell him about the dark desires he used to have and that needed to stay latent at all costs.
“What's up, bro!” Stephen excitedly exclaimed.
“Hey, man. You good?” Stewie asked him.
“I'm great. Let's get this practice on the roll.” Stephen said, as he started the band practice session to prepare for the next worship service.
After two hours of creatively focused practice of worship sets and jamming, the band members got ready to go.
“I think she's the one, man” Stephen said, as he helped Stewie put the bass guitar in its bag.
“Who? Michelle? Really?” Stewie asked.
“Yeah, I can really sense it. We hung out again in Avondale last weekend, had milkshakes. She actually paid for the date, which was new for me.”
“So she's the one because she paid for your date?” Stewie asked laughing.
“No, she's just different from any other girl I've met. She's beautiful, smart, makes her own money and we just connect, you know?”
“Well, ok. What does she do?”
“She works in a hotel, Jameson, but she usually works nights”
“And where does she go to church?”
“She hasn't been going to church, because she used to work Sundays. I'm trying to convince her to come here.”
“Ok, well, if you're happy, man, I am too.” He said, as he carried the bass guitar to Stephen's car.
“And you, any lady caught your eye?” Stephen asked Stewie.
“Nah, still looking,” Stewie answered.
As Stephen thought about it, Stewie had not had a girlfriend from the time he met him. Even when church girls flirted with him, he was oblivious. Maybe, he was holding his ground and would only date someone he was completely sure about. At least, he felt secure with the woman he had met. Michelle was a breath of fresh air, he was sure he would introduce her to his parents soon.
Stewie and Stephen decided to make a stop at Pizza Slice in town to get some lunch. It was always so crowded, but the pizza was so good.
“Oh my gosh, Stephen, hi!” Said a male voice, with an artificially high pitched tone.
“Ah, Simba! What's up, long time!” Stephen replied.
“Yes, it's been years. How are you? Still straight?” He asked cheekily.
“Yes, Simba. Gosh…”
“Oh well, was trying my luck,” Simba said with feigned sadness.
Stephen looked at Stewie, whose usually blank gaze had been replaced by a curious look. It was as if something very interesting had caught his attention.
“Simba, meet my buddie, Stewart. Stewart, meet Simba, we were at high school together,” Stephen said.
Extending his hand to shake Stewie's hand, he introduced his female companion, “Hi. This is Abigail, my friend”.
Simba dressed in a loud pair of orange trousers, a white shirt with orange intricately embroidered flower patterns, white Pierre Cardins and a little white scarf tied around his neck. With his gelled hair, lips shining with lip gloss and exaggerated walk, he clearly lacked the machismo needed to not draw attention to himself. Walking around in a crowded area of town was likely to bring him some trouble. They apparently had to keep moving before someone got irritated by looking at him.
As Simba and Abigail, walked on, Stewie asked Stephen, “He's gay?”
“Very” Stephen replied. “At school, he used to hang around these boys known to be the fairy group. At a boys' school, no one bothered them, after a few years.”
“Wow!” Stewie said, deep in thought.
Stephen noticed then, that Stewie seemed to have a strange interest with deviant sexual people. Stephen recognized that look from the time someone passed by who acted gay or the time they passed a female prostitute getting onto a truck. A look that seemed to say how he wished he could get to know them better. Pushing his thoughts aside, he drove Stewie home, then went to go hang out with Michelle.
Stewie could not get that young colourful gay man Simba out of his head. He thought about how brave he must be to live his life boldly the way he was in a nation like Zimbabwe. He was unsurprisingly drawn to him. He wanted to sit down and talk to him, be friends with him and hear about his struggles. He was curious to know who his friends were, who his partner(s) was and how his family reacted to finding out about his orientation. He wanted to interact and talk to him, but his gut (or was it the Holy Spirit) told him to leave it alone. What if it started the cycle again? It just takes one opening, and the darkness would come rushing back in. With that thought, Stewie stopped contemplating about all things gay.
And he really did stop, for a while.
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