“NO. LESBIANS DON’T HAVE IT EASIER THAN YOU.” A Lesbian ‘Love’ Letter To Gay Men

“NO. LESBIANS DON’T HAVE IT EASIER THAN YOU.” A Lesbian ‘Love’ Letter To Gay Men

I was part of a diverse and inclusive conversation two days ago – an event which was amazing by the way – when someone brought up the fact that LGBT+ rights in Nigeria have turned into gay rights, with lesbians getting sidelined in the conversation, thus ensuring that we, the lesbians, don’t have a voice and so can’t come to the table and demand equal rights for ourselves as well. Someone else responded that the reason is that Nigeria is more accepting of lesbians than they are of gay men and that the society likes to fetishize lesbians. The conversation was fast moving, so I wasn’t able to reply to that grossly inaccurate statement there and then.

However, this is me breaking it down as to why I think the initial speaker was right in what she said and why the response her issue got was wrong.

I will first like to say – and no offense is meant here – to gay men: y’all are loud. You’re loud. You’re in your face. You’re vocal as fuck. And that is amazing. With the society trying its best to shut us up, it is only natural that you’re as flaming and as proud as possible. Nobody should dull your shine.

But in being you, this means that everyone else often has to take a backseat. Take a look at any collective LGBT spaces. Who are the loudest? Gay men! You can’t help yourselves. You exist in a system where although you state that lesbians have it easier – forget that lesbians are still women raised in this misogynistic, patriarchal mess of a country, where most of us are conditioned to hold our tongues and keep the peace, where to do contrary to that would have us being seen as being ‘women’, being emotional’, being ‘feminist’, bringing the ‘drama’.

Why is it that when your voices are raised and you’re ready to do battle, the response is usually, “Oh, you’re gay, so of course you’re passionate. Why should you play nice to make anyone else feel comfortable to the detriment to yourself?” But when a lesbian does the same, she is bringing on the ‘drama’ and being a man-hating woman. To you, we are passionate not because we are gay but because we are women. And for those of you thinking, “Nah, it’s not true”, check yourself. That was probably your first thought when you started reading this: another woman back at it.

As for the Nigerian fetishism of lesbians, I’ll bet that when you saw the comment at the beginning of this write-up, you agreed with the speaker. Why? Because you immediately had this imagination of lesbians as “femme, straight-passing women” (shout-out to my femme lesbians, y’all are gorgeous!).

And why not? That is after all the mental picture that supports this claim of lesbian fetishism. Because we all know that there is no way any “self-respecting” homophobic and heterosexual Nigerian man will get a hard-on from picturing a masculine-presenting or gender, non-binary lesbian having sex with another woman.

So, no! Nigerian men don’t fetishize lesbians. They are not comfortable with lesbians. They simply fantasize about a certain sub-sect of lesbians that they believe – erroneously so – they have a chance in hell of fucking. Lesbians who won’t show up on the Google search engine when they type in “hot lesbians fucking in the shower” are mocked, scorned and hated by them. Lesbians that make it very obvious that they do not exist to please them, the ones that make it very visible that they cannot stand their guts, are met with hate, derision and in some cases harm. (Corrective rape stories, anyone?)

If truly, Nigeria was more comfortable with lesbians, then there wouldn’t be any lesbians terrified of coming out to their families. There won’t be lesbians who are carried, fighting and screaming, out of their parents’ homes into forced marriages, where they are raped by husbands who believe they can fuck the gay out of them. There won’t be lesbians hiding to love the women they love, just because, well, straight Nigerian men still consider it a slight and an insult to their fragile egos that women exist in this country that won’t not touch them and their dicks with a nine-foot pole.

That narrative that lesbians somehow have it much easier than you, the gay man, has to stop. It is sneaky and dangerous, and only further strengthens the unintentional purpose of silencing the recognition of lesbians in the march for LGBT equality.

Written by Noria

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23 Comments

  1. Francis
    May 11, 07:04 Reply

    Thanks for setting the record straight. I also felt you girls had it pretty easy but now I see it ain’t so 😔😔

    All man dey suffer for this country whether gay or lesbian

  2. Mandy
    May 11, 07:39 Reply

    This post was really illuminating. It is surprising to me how before today, I didn’t realize that the lesbian fetishism of Nigerian men I believed was hinged on a particular sub-sect of lesbians, conveniently forgetting that not all lesbians are feminine and, you know, “female”. Thank you, Noria, for correcting that impression.

  3. Mandy
    May 11, 07:39 Reply

    But I must say, it is not up to gay men to give room for lesbians to get a seat at the table where the conversation regarding LGBT rights is going on. It is not our obligation to coddle you. Yes, we have to stop pushing false narratives about lesbians like how you guys have it easier than us in the society, but we are loud and in everybody’s face because we are the most hunted community of the LGBT. We feel the pinch, that is why we make the loudest noise. Yes, society is constructed to keep lesbians (who are after all women) quiet, but at some point, the lesbian community has to shed that construct and become equally noisy and loud and demanding.
    Take here on Kito Diaries for example, there was a time long ago when a lesbian wanted to start a lesbian series and ignorant gay men, who felt entitled to Kito Diaries, pushed against the series, because they didn’t think they could stand stories about vagina. It was bad and I for one felt disgusted by that. But I was also disappointed when Pink Panther later reported that the girl had decided, due to all the angst, to discontinue the series.
    You see, that is something a gay man would NEVER do. A gay man who wants to tell his story on an LGBT forum – or really anywhere – would hardly allow the antagonism from others deter him. He will push back. He will write his story. And he will demand to be heard. Lesbians have to get that same backbone. Our loudness can’t be the reason you have refused to push your narratives to the forefront of the march for equality. Take for instance this write-up… the false narrative about lesbian fetishism would’ve continued to be peddled, even though I suspect you lesbians have been talking about our ignorance on the subject for long, and it is only now that Noria decided to come out and correct us.
    This timidity has to stop. You want something to change; you form the movement to change it. You want to be heard; you make noise and get loud. You want a seat at the table, you don’t tell the gay man to shift or get up for you, he’s not a gentleman for you; you get a seat and push your way to the table. We are all in this together and gay men have plenty struggles plaguing them to take on the insecurities of lesbians as well.

  4. Rapum
    May 11, 08:35 Reply

    My (gay male) friends and I have talked about this in the past, about how we think lesbians have it easier. I am glad you wrote this and by so doing have shown me how insensitive, how potentially dangerous, that idea is. You talk about patriarchy as a reason as to why lesbians appear quieter and more contained in the face of our countries immense homophobia, and I agree with this; I have always believed that one does not wave away years and years of conditioning just because one is homosexual, and so we have many feminist women today who, without giving it a thought, listen to male feminists talk about WOMEN’S experiences and male feminists who do not even realize that dominating a conversation, not making a space more comfortable for women to speak, is a result of internalized and residual sexism. This, I think, is true even in queer spaces.

    However, we, gay men, do not have lesbians enough in our spaces to even have a conversation. This is not accidental: Because we are interested in men, we tend to hang around men, gay men; and since you’re interested in women, you tend to do same. But we don’t sleep with every gay man or woman in our circles; sometimes we just support one another, talk politics, and why isn’t our communities more integrated? Should they be? I think yes, maybe, in many areas, yes.

    Editing the queer anthology, 14, I merely reached out for my gay friends, all male, who are artists. And then we realized: We need women, too! But we did not know any lesbian writer within our generation. We have a bisexual woman working with us, Laura Ahmed, which is beautiful. But why was it difficult to find lesbian or bisexual women to work on this with? I think this is a question gay women, and men, but especially gay women, have to answer.

    I would like to add one thing, in addition to patriarchy: In admitting this, we shouldn’t dismiss the fact that gay men are always in immediate danger, having to date and hook-up with men, in a country where men are generally violent. On social media and everywhere, when straight (and some gay) people bash homosexuals, they are most often referring to gay men. The violence is all-encompassing, but if we look clearly, we will find: Trans women/ guys who generally present as females, and then gay men, at the forefront of these attacks. To dismiss the link between this visceral sense of danger and the raging anger that we feel, that’s also dangerous. Because we would be dismissing how toxic masculine culture functions within homophobia.

    • flame
      May 13, 22:00 Reply

      I loved ’14’ btw. I encountered it at a very (re) defining moment of my life. Thanks to you and other authors.

    • flame
      May 13, 22:17 Reply

      Please how do I submit entries. Searched the whole website.

  5. Anita
    May 11, 08:42 Reply

    If this ain’t the truth ..thank you Noria , you articulated my thoughts on this issue ..Lesbians don’t have it easy..Lesbians get kitoed daily too..especially studs

  6. iAmNotAPerv
    May 11, 10:19 Reply

    I agree with @Mandy with the push your seat to the table analogy. These men have fought hard to be as loud as they can.
    When people try to shut them down they flame up which is the opposite of what happens with us women.
    As much as I’m saying we should take our seat to the table, it would be nice if forums like KD encouraged the women with like say a day strictly for female posts.
    Just some random thoughts

    • Pink Panther
      May 11, 10:43 Reply

      How can such a day exist when there’s barely any such posts coming in?

      Here’s an instance. When it comes to marking any LGBT “holidays”, I oftentimes have gay men sending entries in before I sometimes even know such a holiday is imminent. But on the Lesbian Visibility Day, despite how much I tried, I could only rely on something a friend of mine wrote, which technically she hadn’t even intended for the holiday.

      I advocate for more voices on here. Lawd knows I do. But the choice to create a voice ultimately lies with a community. I, and by extension Kito Diaries, are merely the medium.

      • iAmNotAPerv
        May 11, 16:46 Reply

        I understand this and I have been for a long time speaking to queer women about putting their pieces up and commenting but most of them seem to just want to believe that it’s a gay only space.

    • trystham
      May 11, 10:57 Reply

      How many times have you been told your posts, comments are eagerly anticipated? If you are part of the LGBT, setting one particular day is not acceptable. You are playing to the narrative that women are weaker, and must be petted and pampered. Send in your posts WHEN you want and as e dey hot for your bodi. They MUST be posted, and they WILL be read.

      PS Pinky, is this some sort of bug? Security security!!!

      • iAmNotAPerv
        May 11, 16:50 Reply

        When I made my statement, I wasn’t referring to myself as a writer. I really would love to update everyday but with depression and writer’s block fucking me, it’s hard.
        I said this because I am constantly out there begging queer women to submit their works or at least comment but most of them feel like they won’t be acknowledged cos the gays are loud, which is why I was agreeing with Mandy. I’m not saying give them a seat at the table, I’m saying smile nicely at them and tell them to bring their seat to the table. If that makes any sense

    • Absalom
      May 11, 11:35 Reply

      Pinky is one of the most passionate bloggers out there. (I say this from the perspective of someone who has never blogged because I can’t.) He loves gathering stories AF. This blog has always been open to queer women. I know because I was one of those who campaigned to have more perspectives in here from women. But where are the stories? Do we really need affirmative action for this?

  7. Absalom
    May 11, 10:27 Reply

    Blaming gay men for lesbian erasure is just wrong. And it draws from this troubling idea that Female Trouble in anything equals Male Wickedness. Lesbians and Gay men have different problems and these problems can be discussed differently without blaming each other. The intensities of violence towards both classes, and the attention this violence pays to both classes, are different.

    A lesbian can pretend to have straight sex she does not enjoy but a gay man will need an erection for that drama to happen. Have we considered the radical idea that some of lesbian erasure is orchestrated by lesbians who KNOW that, physically, it’s “easier” to be a DL wife than it is to be a DL husband?

    Lesbians have to deal with rape as “conversion therapy” but gay men don’t.

    Difference.

    I really don’t know what stops lesbians from organising and activating more loudly. Maybe they need to look within. This is why I don’t like Salad Activism that tries to take care of everybody at once; one group will always feel less included than others. We can be different and work in different spaces to achieve the SAME goal.

    I can’t imagine any donors, for instance, who will decline to fund lesbian advocacy groups and prefer, instead, to fund male homosexuals because Penis Is Better/Louder. Maybe there just aren’t that many lesbians who feel threatened/attacked enough to care – or be loud. Yet.

    • Chiedozié
      May 11, 11:07 Reply

      1. How is this BLAMING gay men for the erasure of lesbians?

      2. Have you considered the radical idea that MGMs contribute to the narrative that homosexuality is an anomaly and are testimony-time stories for homophobes?

      3. How is being a DL husband easier than being a DL wife? Is it because she doesn’t have to get it up?

      4. Gay men -particularly heteronormative-kosher ones -are men before they are gay.

      5. How effective have siloed conversations and efforts been in tackling homophobia? It’s all connected and siloed efforts have proven useless because they are useless. Intersectionality is not bogus nonsense. Salad Activism is the only way to move forward. There is a lot of unacknowledged resentment towards gay men and it’s well earned. It’s not a criticism to say gay men dominate the narrative of queerness in a way that inadvertently erases others, it’s a statement of fact. And there’s a lot of hurt there. I know more lesbians and bisexual women personally than I know gay men. It’s not that lesbians aren’t visible but there’s an insularity and there’s a freezing out, and if we are really the LGBT community and not the gay community masquerading as being representative of interests across the board, why is it so hard to acknowledge these erasive attitudes and try to do better. Are the interests of gays and lesbians mutually-exclusive? If it seems like that’s the case, isn’t that a problem? Shouldn’t it be?
      What is wrong with salad feminism, with making space so that everyone’s voice can be heard? Can you logically make a case against it? I ask again, how well has celery activism been working?

      • Malik
        May 11, 23:42 Reply

        Number 4! Brother!! *screaming in feminism*

        I think we can do better. Maybe be a little more deliberate about visibility for the other letters in LGBT. Else we’ll just be like those people (who I love to quarrel with, if you’re one of them, pull out your claws) who clamor for the feminism nomenclature to be replaced by gender equality. We could be more conscious, deliberate and all-inclusive about our activism.

  8. Dunder
    May 11, 18:08 Reply

    This kind of topic… but it has got to be had. As the elders say, “Eni ti o kan lo mo”- (s)he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches.

    The writer got it right about the many sets overlapping in this community. There is gender, sex, sexual attraction, sexuality and then the many cliques and upheld stereotypes within these groups. I however think it counterproductive to initiate an oppression Olympics situation where we list our woes in order to win the laurel for the most oppressed. In a word where numbers matter, we are not going to achieve critical mass by battling each other. It would be better to focus on Noria’s attempt to explain the experience of the other so that there is more understanding of where we are coming from.

    I think one major thing that was missed is the homophobes definition of what “real sex” means. No matter how butch the lady, as far as the homophobe is concerned, what women have is extended foreplay as there is no organic penetration that defines one partner as submissive (or less than) and the other, dominant. Sex is about power and so, very political. This is why lower apes resort to “corrective rape”- they attempt to teach a woman her place- not to be butch so she displaces a man from his pedestal and not to offer her femininity to those who do not hold Jesus’s or nature’s scepter to lord over them. It’s also why there is no corrective toasting or corrective romance- the idea is to communicate that sex is not about the woman’s pleasure but for the man. That is why lesbian porn for straight men always has that POV vibe to it. It’s also why people prefer to be violent and even homicidal towards gay men especially “bottoms” who denigrate masculinity by doing what the “no gayism” activists’ mothers did to get them here instead of paying a sex worker to initiate him or offering their sister to help convert a misled brother.

    No matter how loudly it is stated, the Nigerian gay man is still the product of his environment and there will be those incapable of seeing you as anything more than their little sister or himself as the better sex. This inability to improve should not affect our relationships with other men capable of reciprocating respect. In a situation where representation is vital, such socially handicapped people are only going to make things worse as even the female anti-gay crusader is not going to appreciate being waved aside by Mr. God’s gift to women.

    Everyone in the LGBT community has a different story and there are even other things that constitute division- religion, social and economic class, age, HIV- status, marriage status, level of education and so on. I’m sure that the gay kito-er residing in Ikotun who rides like a rodeo whore before signaling his boyfriend’s gang to rob you blind will have a story to tell. That is how we should see it. Carry your chair to the high table if you think you are not being heard as Noria has done. My experience is that men and women (although exemptions exist and I’m living proof), generally have different experiences and handle life differently as a result of biology and social conditioning. This differences should not suggests that one is less than the other and as is proven everywhere in the world, cannot be corrected by affirmative action and rationing- this may get you through the door but also determines how far you can go. There are many colors on our rainbow and everyone cannot be represented equally and to their satisfaction. Until there is evidence that Pinky is registered at “Pepper Lesbians Gang, Nigeria branch”,he should publish these stories as they come in no matter the ratios.

    In closing, let me remind us of one of the lessons from Stonewall- It’s those who stray from the permitted mainstream in appearance and desire that sounded the trumpet and began demanding respect because their skins had been thickened after being victimized for so long. The queer community is heterogeneous by definition and I’m sure even more schisms existed at that time before cellphones or the internet. It was the shock of their turning the tables on societal jailers that caused their kin and communities to question their own humanity and all this trickled down to the equality that has been achieved today. Sorry for typing too much.

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