**You can read Part I & II here.
Father Salumba said I must go to the Youth club on Thursday and play Football with the other boys. I did not want to. I liked football but I knew the other boys would ridicule me because I was a ‘slum dog’.
“You need the company of other boys” said the priest. “Dressing up that way is unnatural. Are you jealous of girls is that it?”
He said if I did not go to the Youth Club he would call the police. Homosexual activity is illegal in Nilemwe and is punishable by life imprisonment – and execution, when the world isn’t watching closely. In 2014 three convicted homosexuals were hung after a long and controversial public trial that caught the attention and censure of nearly every country in the West. Gays and lesbians are regularly beaten up and often executed by the Secret Police – and sometimes ritually stoned to death by The Midnight Avengers, the anti-gay militants, who know the authorities will turn a blind-eye. Not reporting that your neighbour has come out as gay, lesbian or transgender is a criminal offence.
So I went to the Youth Club, reluctantly, and played football. Father Salumba was amazed. He said my football skills were a gift from God. I was an oyster suspected of a pearl. Soon he arranged for me to sign semi-professional terms with Kase FC. I wasn’t keen but I could earn money.
And the rest, as they say, is history. Soon I was a rising football star and on the plane to play in the Africa Cup of Nations where I scored that ‘wonder goal. I got my wish. The paparazzi followed me everywhere. I was the slum kid made good. A new national hero. But they didn’t know my secret. And that made me feel alone. Lonely in a world full of people pursuing me! I know that all people are alone in some way and some people are alone in all ways – but I wanted to be alone to cross-dress in private. That’s the main reason I signed for a big club. I was never interested in visiting England. It looked so silly on the map and I was convinced that some of the city names must be wrong. But I would earn big money! – find a nice little place for my mum to live – and I could find a luxurious flat, like in my dreams, and dress and wander around in whatever I liked.
I’m Tiko and I’m a cross dresser and somehow I have to resolve that. Do something positive about it. I’m not sure how yet but I think keeping it a secret makes it difficult. It’s like that dream where my lips keep moving but no sound comes out.
So that’s me. Tiko. That’s my history. So far. I know I have a magnificent scorn for detail but I’ve told it because it might help explain who I am and my need to be ‘free’. Liberated. Released.
My name is Tiko. I’m a cross-dresser and I’m about to come out.