A gay man named Deon tried to be a model tenant, but his anti-gay landlord still wanted to evict him. Then the neighbors got involved.
By Steeves Winner
Deon (a pseudonym) always paid his rent on time. He was quiet and well-behaved, and frequently found himself under observation by the landlord, who lived upstairs.
Deon tells what happened:
In the week of Aug. 20, 2018 in the Damas district of Yaoundé, Cameroon, Deon’s anti-gay landlord made clear that he did not like him entertaining male visitors late at night.
Deon responded that the landlord had no reason to intrude in his private life as long as Deon abided by the terms of the lease and did not disturb public tranquillity.
His visitors are part of his private life and no one needs to take any interest in them, he said.
On August 23, at a time when Deon was away from home, the landlord argued with one of Deon’s friends who had come for a visit. The landlord called him a “man-woman.”
Growing angry, the friend threatened the landlord and told him to butt out of his private life.
When Deon returned, the landlord told Deon to leave the premises and not return. The landlord’s reason: Deon was keeping strange company.
In response, Deon said nothing. He just went to his room and locked himself in.
The next morning, the landlord started knocking on the door by shouting that he wanted every homosexual to leave his house.
Deon reminded him that his lease would not expire until November. He said he would demand a refund if he was forced to leave before then.
At that, the landlord spat at him and hit him with a stick. Deon defended himself. The two men struggled until neighbors intervened and separated them.
Deon decided not to file charges against the landlord for verbal and physical aggression. Instead, he agreed to let neighbors arbitrate.
Under the neighbors’ persuasion, the landlord acknowledged that he had made a mistake. Deon was allowed to stay in the house. So far, peace reigns in the house where men formerly fought and insulted each other.
Looking ahead, Dean said, “I do not intend to leave because I feel good about this place. My sex life does not involve anyone other than me, so I have to educate people around me to accept me.
“Anyway, it would be useless to move,” he added. “Wherever I went, it would be the same. It’s better for me to stay where I am already known and accepted.”
Steeves Winner, the author of this article, is an activist for LGBTI rights in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym. Contact him at [email protected]