An excerpt from the latest entry in my colleague's fantastic personal journal on adventures in Africa
We made an enthusiastic start to the festival arriving in time for the opening parade and a pretty decent opening act from Zanzibar itself. This, with such an atmospheric setting as the Ngome Kongwe (Old Fort), which had been really brought to life with lighting, stalls and a buzzing international crowd, made for an seriously exciting start. Unfortunately, this was then offset by seemingly endless ngoma troops which, after sitting on the rock-hard ground for some hours, left us rather deflated. It was at that point that I read about the festival cutbacks and their focus on ‘upcoming talent’, which explained a few things about the line-up. Either way, watching ngoma from afar kind of defeats the object; it is more a participatory activity. The night was rescued for me by Ary Morais, although the Cape Verdean struggled to connect with the east African audience. But I got to throw some shapes. The night was then rescued for Sella by some highly questionable Taraab music, which seemingly involves groups of women standing up and whining at length, using Arabic maqam scales, about various sexual issues but exclusively through the use of metaphor. All of this is quite hard going on the chromatically-trained, vernacular-oblivious Westerner’s ear. Time for bed, although, easier said than done. All of our carefully memorised shop fronts had since disappeared after dark and we got completely lost on the walk home. Thankfully the streets of Zanzibar are safe, despite looking quite the opposite after dark.
The rest of our days were spent eating, sleeping, chatting, sipping drinks on rooftop bars and wandering the streets. We opted to enter the festival much later to avoid the chaff as well as the arse ache. One evening we watched with bemusement from a rooftop bar sipping cold drinks as a massive freighter caught ablaze in the harbour and nothing was done for over an hour. I started to make crude calculations as to how far metal might travel from an exploding oil freighter, but finally it was towed away to another location presumably to finish burning or to explode completely. On other afternoons, we had been trying to avoid entering conversation with a strange francophone group, some from Africa and some from France. One guy had asked Sella for her Blackberry PIN to message her. The next day in the same restaurant another guy asked for my programme and held the picture up next to his friend to ask whether I thought it was him. I replied in the negative, after trying to recreate the pose in the photograph, saying his teeth were different. Of course, lo and behold, they turned out to be the entire Fredy Massamba band. I could have mixed with the stars. Sella could have made sweet love over messenger. What dickwads we were.
Well, I try not to pull this number, so I’ll make it short and tasteful, but I need to rant!
This is doubly awkward because of the situation that prompted this blog; i.e. who was involved, he may well read this. I just finished a short conversation with a guy I was seeing about why I deleted him on Facebook. A) It makes me look awfully petty and immature B) I look like a psycho. I axed him on Facebook, because I kept seeing his updates, going to his page, following where he was, as if we were still seeing each other. I didn’t particularly care for how and why it ended: my end, I didn’t like that he lives so far away, and I can’t speak for him, but he certainly seemed to preempt it - even to the point of just waiting for me to say, ‘Look…’
It’s not like I was madly in love with him; don’t get me wrong, great guy and whatnot, and I think we had a fun-loving kinda connection. But I suppose I kept going back to his page, because I haven’t found someone else to cling on to. Leech I am, I’ve certainly become quite the serial dater.
But it’s more than just ‘that.’ Me being clingy. The climate of gays is brutal. The clicks, the expectations that come with those, there are a ton more ‘walls’ around gay communities than heterosexual ones. There’s the guys just out there for sex. There’s the muscle guys. The twinks. The bears. Et al. All exclusive, I don’t care what they say about being ‘open and accepting.’ They’ve collectively constructed their own expectations, whether they admit it or not. But even on a personal level there’s what [you] like and what [they] like.
In the end, for as far-left as I may be, I’m conservative on a personal level. It’s terribly disheartening to run into all of these expectations: active, vers, passive, everything in between, styles, fetishes, and in the end you have what was already a limited pool of eligible partners and whittled it down to just a few. It get’s better? Sure it does. But finding Mr. Right is not as simple as finding acceptance. I’m not just saying this as a ‘pity me,’ I’m being quite rational about it. Of course, heteros run into the same problems, but there’s more of them, and I would conjecture they have fewer issues of sexual compatibility.
Where’s that Prince Charming? Give me his ugly half-brother, if we’re sexually compatible and make for an interesting mix of personalities, we’ll work it out.
“When the newspapers were full of alarms about Iran possibly developing a nuclear bomb, Kurt sent me a copy of a very short letter he wrote to The New York Times: “I know of only one nation that has dropped nuclear bombs on innocent people.”—Howard Zinn on Kurt Vonnegut (via axelgonz08)