Coming To America

Pape Mbaye gets a lot of attention. Even in jaded New York, people watch the way he walks (his style defines the word sashay) and scrutinize his outfits, which on a recent afternoon featured white, low-slung capris, a black purse, eyeliner and diamond-studded jewelry.

And he likes it.

“I’m fabulous,” he said. “I feel good.”

And so The New York Times reports on Pape Mbaye, who was granted refugee status by the US government after being driven out of his native Senegal. He was attacked by armed mobs, harassed by police and subjected to a poisonous campaign of denigration by the media.

Anti-gay sentiment is rife in Africa, with the media and religious leaders (the Times article highlights Islamic leaders) using fear of homosexuality as a cover for the continents real problems.

Pape's story of riches to rags is grim, but things are looking up for him. He has his own place in the Bronx (where he should fit in well) and hopes to continue dancing, singing and storytelling (in French and Wolof for now). “I want to live with the gays!” he said. “Pape Mbaye is American!”

See the article here.


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