Lights, camera, action! That is what one is tempted to think when you first meet Ricardo Amunjera. It’s Friday afternoon and while most Namibians get ready to switch into weekend mode, Ricardo keeps himself busy reading a newspaper while waiting his appointment with a newspaper that would like to interview him.
Ricardo is gay and he makes no secret of his sexual orientation. And if your first impression makes you think you are going to meet a loud mouth, feminine and colorfully dressed person, you are in for a big surprise. Ricardo’s looks and dress code is not as explicit like other gay personalities who go all out to show on which side of the divide they are, in Ricardo’s case you get the more conventional look of a typical metrosexual male who has a good sense of fashion and conscious about his appearance.
Ricardo recently tied the knot with his longtime partner Marc Omphemetse, he shared his story on how they had to travel to South Africa to change vows because same-sex marriages are not recognized by law in Namibia.
Currently a student at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, Ricardo narrates passionately how he met his life partner.
The love story started on social media, he says with a smile on his face.
He says they they pursued each other through a mutual friend and made arrangements to meet. According to Ricardo, “the moment I met Marc everything just felt right.”
Beyond the chemistry and physical attraction, their respective successful careers was another draw card he says.
Ricardo says he is a hard worker, with a track record of 15 years in the mining sector at both Scorpion Mine and Langer-Heinrich mine, last year he was selected as one of the 1000 young African leaders for the Mandela Washington Fellowship. This exposure challenged him further to be true to his identity and awakened a desire within him to make a contribution to Namibia’s national development by becoming an entrepreneur. With 20 people currently in their employment, Ricardo remains focused on engaging the national discourse and consciously uses the opportunities afforded to augment his platforms.
I was born in Windhoek but raised in Luderitz. Already at the age of 7, I knew I was different. My difference was accentuated by my preference for dolls. I also remember being very neat and my days would be cleaning the house or washing clothes. So you can imagine how challenging this was in the community. My family, notably my grandmother definitely always tried to protect, guide and help me. The good thing about my family is that we are very close and I have always appreciated the fact that they have always sheltered me. I have always had a base to come back to, especially after having to go through an avalanche of criticism and taunts that a young gay boy would go through while walking the streets or just going to school – being called out “kyk daai jong moffie”-such things can get very draining on a young person.
High school was extremely challenging. The worse part of high school was that the teachers were part of group who were discriminating against me as a gay person. You tend to want to trust the people who educate you but that was not the case. It was not all the teachers, however, some were rather supportive.
I had a very small group of friends and for some reason, when I am in the presence of my friends, I can face any issue and I can answer any question. That that was then, now I do not need that base to be confident. I studied accounting through the University of South Africa(UNISA) but ended up in the mining sector. I worked at Scorpion Mine as a Geo-Technical assistant. It was a lot of manual labour and I kind of credit that period in my life for building character in me. So when I moved to Walvis Bay in 2006, I definitely knew that I was much better off as a person mentally and physically in that space.
The Big reveal
In 2006, I moved to Walvis Bay. I remember sitting at a restaurant and this girl came up to me and said ‘Hi, you are so beautiful, do you have a girlfriend?’
I do not know where the courage came from but I responded saying that I had a boyfriend. That was the defining moment. Ever since then I never looked back. I never allowed anybody to put me in a space where I was not comfortable with being who I am. I never allowed anybody to have so much power over me. I am always comfortable with who I am and it will remain that way.
When I was Mr. Gay Namibia, there was a lot of backlash. The aim of the competition was to provide the community with a positive image of who gay people really are. It was very challenging because there was this confusion and a lot of negative media around gay people at the time. But I stood out and said that I am gay and different.
Getting married was never about proving anything. It’s all about personal happiness. Marriage is amazing especially in the sense of understanding that you have this person who always has your back. You just have that foundation. In the mist of everything you come home and you have this person who really gets you. I’ve always loved the idea of being with one person and celebrating my relationship. In the first two years of marriage, I tried to use my relationship as a catalyst for change on social media. I would always write positive things. And then I realised that if you expose your marriage on social media, people have a lot to say and it can impact you unconsciously as well. So now I don’t post anything about my marriage on social media.
The roles – who cooks and cleans?
In our home, we are definitely both guys. No one assumes the role of a female persona. If we cook, we cook together; if we clean then we clean together. There is a clear shared sense of responsibilities. Nobody watches TV while the other washes dishes. We are at that stage where we celebrate our union and our individuality within the union. There is no head of the house. There is no wife or husband. When he speaks to his friends about me he says ‘my husband’ and when I speak to my friends I also refer as ‘my husband to him.’
When we go out and we want to touch hands or wipe something off the other’s face, we do it. And for some reason, everybody knows now that we are married. It has not been difficult for me to show love in public because I am confident in who I am.
At the moment we do not have children but we would definitely would like in the future. I do not want to adopt children because I would like to have my biological one – through a surrogate. That has always been a dream. This is a discussion we are having. We both want a child of our own. We are however blessed to be taking care of my niece’s daughter so in a sense we are parents already.
Matters of faith
I consider myself to be a very religious person and the reason I say this is because I base religion on the fact that you need to show humility and humbleness to people. And a lot of compassion needs to come through someone who considers themselves as Christian. I would always be criticized but my relationship with God is something many will not understand. I pray and when I have problems God answers. So if that does not make me Christian, then I surely do not know what being Christian means.