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Meet Gambia’s first openly gay teenager
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Meet Gambia’s first openly gay teenager

"You only have one life as far as we know. It would be such a shame for you to live your life based on other people's expectations," said Foday Jawla. 

The 18-year-old is the first and only openly gay Gambian teenager. He was born and brought up in Sweden, where he lives with his family. 

He told What's On-Gambia: "I was born and raised in Stockholm. Yet that doesn't necessarily mean that I consider myself a Swede. Since at a very young age, I have always identified myself as Gambian. My parents installed that in me." 


On when exactly he decided to come out as gay, Foday declined to comment saying: "I am lucky to live in a country that accepts and protects LGBTQ+people. Yet that doesn't mean that people aren't close-minded, and for some odd reasons, the people who tend to be the most hateful are my fellow Gambian brothers. They take it as a personal attack that I am who I am. My way of handling it is simply by ignoring them." 

He argued that being gay should no longer be a taboo in The Gambia. 

"I visit The Gambia as much as possible. It's such a lovely country. And the people are for the most part very respectful and kind. I feel as though they are too humble to ever place a judgement on someone else's life." 

When asked what his advice to other young people who are still struggling to come out of the closet would be, the 18-year-old said: "I would tell them that it isn’t a necessity to come out. I mean straight people don’t do it, so why should we? It’s such a non-important factor. Why does it matter who I fall in love with or who I sleep with? And secondly, you only have one life as far as we know, it’d be such a shame for you to live your life based on other people’s expectations of you. God gave you your life as well as he gave them their life. So live yours the way you feel like it should be lived." 

Foday, who is very active on social media, disclosed he is still close with his parents. 

"They gave birth to me. I think it is impossible to hate your own children," he said.

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