Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here.
It was an early evening in May, and Stephane hurried his boyfriend out the door of their apartment so they would arrive before the tables filled up at Victoire Bar, a roadside dive in the Essos neighborhood of Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. Sunday nights at the Victoire offered one of the few regular meeting points for the city’s secretive but closely knit community of men who identified as gay or bisexual—or who, regardless of how they identified, had sex with other men.
Stephane, a 22-year-old waiter, had been a fixture of that community for several years, and he tried not to miss a Sunday at the Victoire if he could help it. “It became like a custom,” he said. “If you weren’t there on a Sunday night, it meant you were sick.”