For 21-year-old Obusitse Booster being gay and dating men is ‘just normal,’ and as far back as Standard 3 the attraction has always made his heart skip a beat.
Up to now he has only had to endure the odd abusive comment, stares and giggles, but last week embracing his sexual orientation took a more sinister turn when he and four of his buddies were subjected to mob violence in Area S Francistown.
“It was the first time I have been physically attacked for being who I am. We were beaten like we were thieves.
Everyone wanted to put their boot in as we were kicked and beaten with anything they could lay their hands on,” revealed the tall, slender young man.
“The people were many, we couldn’t fight them off.
We thought of fighting back but decided that we wouldn’t leave Area S alive if we did.
It was a horrible experience. Women with hands full of fat cake dough came out of their tuck shops to watch and laugh as we were punched and shoved. It was all a game to them,” he added.
Describing the incident Booster told how he and his friends had returned to Area S to retrieve their cell phones that local thugs had taken from them in a nightclub the previous evening.
“The guys were known to the owners and when they were asked why they took our phones, they said because we are homosexuals and wanted to have sex with them.
They were lying but their words sparked a reaction and people who overheard started to beat us,” he explained.
Talking openly about his life, Booster revealed that he had tried to be ‘straight,’ but in less than a year he was back to his old ways.
“As a Christian I know the Bible verses that speak against homosexuality – all that Sodom and Gomorrah stuff – so one time I told myself I would try to change.
I went to one of these fire churches which people say drive out demons.
At the church the pastor told me to attend deliverance for 14 days, but there was no change. I moved onto another church where I spent three months but still I longed for men and missed my old life.
Life was just boring, I felt it was not me and I didn’t belong.”
Continuing his story he went on to explain: “Being gay is not something you just wake and decide to try. You don’t say I want to date men! It just happens.
“The other day someone in town called me a walking demon. I was so hurt that I started crying,” he said.
“I have never had any feelings for a girl nor have I had sex with a girl. When I see a woman I see someone just like me. Even if she can undress in front of me nothing happens inside.
I never slept or kissed a girl. To me it’s totally disgusting.”
Booster traces his first realisation that he was different back to a dream he had about one of the boys he used to play with whilst still at primary school.
“The friend used to visit me at home and we got along. In my dream I remember kissing him, that’s when it all started.
I began to love him, but I did not tell him how I felt because I was still a kid,” he revealed.
Without fear or shame unemployed Booster says he is now comfortable with his lifestyle, enjoying himself while he waits to pursue his studies in fashion and apparel design.
Side stepping the rumour that he is currently earning a living as a male prostitute, Booster grins and says, “I’d rather call myself a gold digger. I get money from my men and only do rich people.
I don’t sleep around for money but I pretend to be head over heels in love with my man. He gives me money two or three times before I’m done with him. After that I move on with my life.”
Admitting that he is a committed party animal, Booster says he also loves to travel. “One week I am in Maun, the next in Jwaneng, another in Gaborone. I also meet new people outside the country who pay well.”
Sweet-talking his way to anything between P500 and P1000 from grateful, rich lovers, Booster is able to live an expansive lifestyle and indulge his expensive tastes.
He justifies his commercial approach to sex by explaining that his first lover who he described as the love of his life dumped him five years into their relationship. Since then he has never left his heart out to dry.
“He never told me he wanted out. He just started to behave weird and not come to sleep over at my house as he used to. I was hurt. He wanted to date all my friends – he was a downright bitch.
After he dumped me I told myself I was going to play every man I came across.”
He counts several married men and two pastors amongst his extensive list of partners.
But despite his mercenary approach, Booster describes himself as a loving, sensitive person. He tells of the time he was employed as a nanny to a six-month-old baby boy.
The job lasted for five months until he had problems with the mother because people were talking and questioning how she could leave her baby in the care of someone gay.
“The rumour mongers said the child would copy my behaviour since he was still young.
But all I saw was a small baby whom I cared and loved so much. Each time I cuddled him it was like I was cuddling my own baby. I miss the experience.”
Booster is also an active member of BONELA, the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS that was established in 2002 as a network of concerned individuals, groups and organisations passionate about championing the human rights of people living with HIV and AIDS, including most people who are at higher risk of HIV.
When the organisation learnt that he was to do an interview with this newspaper detailing his experience, they advised him not to as the publicity might only make matters worse.
“After the beating I thought maybe I should change how I dress and my hairstyle, but then I figured that if I did that then those people would feel triumphant.
In fact the incident has motivated me to be who I am, and to be proud of it. No mater what they may do, I am ready to die to defend the right to be who I am,” he concluded.