‘Coming out of the closet’ in Africa: identity construction and expression among Ghanaian men who have sex with men (MSM)

Ama de-Graft Aikins, University of Cambridge
Paul K. Ayernor, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and PRI
Lord Dartey, UNAIDS, Nigeria

This paper reports a study that examined identity construction and expression among Ghanaian men who have sex with men (MSM) and the implications for interventions and advocacy. Individual interviews were conducted with 20 MSM and participant observations were conducted in MSM spaces in Accra and Tema, Ghana. Disclosure of MSM identity was partial for many men and was often restricted to carefully selected significant others and within MSM peer groups; disclosure to broader society happened for the most politically engaged. Stigma consciousness and actual stigma undermined full disclosure of MSM identities, compelled men to live ‘secretly homosexual and socially heterosexual lives’ and created tensions within MSM peer groups particularly with respect to MSM advocacy. Future research needs to focus on the psychological and sexual health of female partners of MSM and particularly for MSM who engage in sex work. Interventions and advocacy must be rights-based and involve conscientized MSM.

  See paper

Presented in Session 111: Male identity and sexuality

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