LGB RPCV NewsLetter - May 2005
Parza: Writing His Name
- Mark Canavera, RPCV Burkina Faso
“What did your father say?” I asked with bait-ed breath. “He asked tosee your picture,” Parzareplied. We have hisfamily’s felicitous andunexpected blessing.
Funny, that I thought writing my partner’s name, “Parza,” would bea relief. Oh, it may not look likemuch to you since you’re readingit in Times New Roman or maybeArial, who knows. But know thatwhen I write it, when I really writeParza with a thick pen that’s purpleor green or royal blue, it swirls onthe pages with curlicues, basking inits newfound glow of legibility. Itsounds even better. Read it out loud:Parza. Do it, read it: Paaaarza. Rollsoff the tongue with a zing, doesn’t it?PAARZA!You might have read about Parza before, just without knowing it. Inan earlier edition of this newsletter,Parza was P_____, my anonymousBurkinabè lover (February 2003, seehttp://www.lgbrpcv.org/articles/02_ 03_burkina.htm). I wrote anonymous-ly as well since this newsletter is sentto Peace Corps staff in Burkina Fasoand both Parza and I feared losingour thin veil of secrecy. We’re nolonger anonymous: P_____ is Parza,and I am Mark. I had thought thatwriting Parza, outing Parza, declaringParza, would rush through me likean electric wave, a thrilling release, athrowing off of the protective cloak of anonymity. A naked jump into icywaters. Writing Parza was supposedto be a Deﬁning Moment, both hiscoming out and ours.Parza gave me permission towrite about him by name about threemonths ago, some two years after my departure from Burkina Faso.“Write it all,” he said. “Everything!Don’t leave out a single detail.” Atthe time, I itched at the prospectof artfully sketching vignettes of Parza’s coming-out process: theday he learned the French words for “homosexual” and “fag,” our ﬁrstkiss, the time he saw Doug kiss his boyfriend on “Melrose Place” (yes,it showed in Burkina), and ﬁnally,triumphantly, the moment he declaredto me, “Voilà! That’s who I am – aman who prefers men to women.”All interesting in their own ways, butstories like these have already beentold a thousand times.Parza’s story has more. In May of last year, Parza, who like me is 27,faced increasing pressure from hisfamily to get married and to start afamily. To stem the tide of marriage proposals, he decided to tell his father about our relationship, one-uppingme. I feared that he would be chasedfrom the village, ostracized. “Whatdid your father say?” I asked with baited breath. “He asked to see your picture,” Parza replied. We have hisfamily’s felicitous and unexpected blessing.Writing Parza was supposed to be a declaration of commitment, a putting to ink of our love. But seeingit now, written in Times New Roman(yours might be Palatino Linotype or Garamond, but no matter – they’re alltypewritten), “Parza” looks vaguelylifeless, an inaccurate transcriptionof our spoken affair. Read it out loudagain and you’ll understand howmuch is lost in the typing: Paarza!ParZAAH!There are irreducible ironies. For starters, we speak almost daily buthave not seen each other in over two years. The cell phone keepsus close just as plane ticket prices,immigration laws, and cultures keepus distant. We never talk about “us”anymore; we just enact the day-to-day drone of married couples. Parzais working in a bakery right now,rolling baguette loaves from 3 to 7am. I just ﬁnished a ﬁnal paper for a political philosophy class. Our livesseem to exist in two different spheres,the dusty streets of Ouagadougouand the pristine halls of academia,yet our conversations are ﬁlled withquotidian banalities, hardly the stuff of star-crossed lovers. We no longer love each other exotically.Parza and I have been together for more than four years now, two of them together and two and a half of them apart. Never once has the endgoal been apparent. A counselor I sawrecently raised his eyebrow and said,“You call that a relationship? What-ever.” Somehow neither of us seemsto let the obvious questions growtoo loud: where are we going, or even more basically, what directionare we headed in? Those sounds of those questions remain, but they arereduced to a soothing hum, the purr of a well-constructed Cadillac engine.For now we just keep coasting, some-how together but viscerally apart.
’m so lucky,” I used to tell
PO Box 14332San Francisco CA firstname.lastname@example.org://www.lgbrpcv.org
Editor Mike LearnedLayout Kevin H. Souza
The LGB RPCV Newsletter ispublished quarterly by the Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual RPCV Organization,an afﬁliate of the National PeaceCorps Association. We promotePeace Corps ideals and the legal,political and social rights of LGBTpeople throughout the world. Weencourage the submission of articlesor photographs for the newsletter.The right to use or edit materialsremains with the editor. Copyrightremains with the author. Sendsubmissions or inquiries to the abovepostal or e-mail address.
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