I’ve never had the patience to do it. And we were the ones that did it, to be honest. [Laughs.] And it’s really hard in the U.S. to work with a zoo that’s a real sanctuary that has no idea what people are going to do.
How much of your work in Africa were drawn from your own experiences living in a rural Kenyan village and going to school there, or more deeply from the fact that you grew up in this remote part of a country whose people had such a lot in common with yours. What made you want to start a family there?
I had always wanted to visit Ethiopia when I was a kid, but it was always so far away. I was actually in Kenya a few years ago, but I didn’t know who was president and it was the hardest part on my parents who were traveling. They were like, “What are you going to tell our kids?” I’m trying to find jobs and trying to get a license, but I’m too excited to go, because I was so close to everything. And so, I kind of knew right away the connection with my mom and dad in the Kenyan village. This is also a really cool place, even though it doesn’t look as cool as some of the stuff we see in the magazines.
What’s it like raising kids with a culture that doesn’t accept homosexuality, or as much as maybe you’re accustomed to living as a gay guy?
There’s such a tremendous amount of tolerance, and I think for a lot of people, that’s what they see or know about other cultures. There’s always a culture of resistance to it. I really wanted to change that, but I couldn’t just say I’m not going to change. There were certain things I was going to do, and certain behaviors, that I wouldn’t do because it would be frowned upon in the village. Some people had issues with it, but for the most part, it was really open. It was the only place I felt comfortable being himself.
I grew up in the U.K. and I was never told to be who I am, or to stop acting crazy. It was never really an issue for me growing up. There wasn’t this issue of being gay, at least in any negative way. But there wasn’t any place in Europe where kids were allowed to be themselves. You can be a guy who wants to cut and wear makeup, or a guy who doesn’t want boys,
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