My nuclear family and some of my extended family know I’m gay, thanks to mother. I didn’t mind that she told my dad and brothers. It was inevitable. But then I found out she told her sisters and I was pissed and scared. Then she went on to tell my uncle about it and I was just pissed.

Why is she going about telling my relatives about me? I’m not entirely sure. I know she is close to her sisters and that they share all sorts of problems with each other and pray at midnight and all that. I guess she was looking for more prayer power. I feared that all she did was give them ammo of some sort. As for telling my uncle, I’m sure it was just some irrational thinking that he could dissuade me.

The effects of her telling people about me have been varied and interesting, but above all, annoying as fuck. When I was entering the university, an aunt came to advise me about joining bad gangs. I half-listened as she went on about cultists and bad boys who don’t go to lectures, but then when she said, “There’s even a group now, homosexuals, make sure you avoid them”, that was when I realised that this was what she had been driving at all along. I believe that was the first hint that my story had left my house into other people’s homes. I managed to shift it from my memory. She wasn’t going to beat me.

Years passed, I was in the university, and I had a boyfriend. Then ASUU hit us with a strike and my relationship turned long distance. Glee was still an awesome show and I used to watch it with my cousin. She said she liked Kurt a lot, mostly because of his voice. I asked if she didn’t mind that he was gay and she said no, she didn’t. A few days later, I came out to her and her response was that she knows. She said she knew even before my mum found out because she had seen gay porn in my Nokia E71. I was shook. She knew all these years and our relationship didn’t even change at all. She also mentioned that around the time my mum found out, her mum had called her to ask her if she knew anything about my sexuality and she lied that she didn’t. It meant that she had my back. And so I began sharing more about me with her. I tell her when I am traveling to see people and about my relationships. She isn’t 100% okay with it and was appalled when I told her I won’t get married, but that doesn’t get in the way of a healthy relationship between us.

A couple of years passed and my mum traveled out of the country and saw drag queens. She was with my aunt and she was pointing. My aunt slapped her hand down and told her not to point before it’d turn into a scene. I can imagine my mum, being the quintessential Nigerian that she is, walking up to them to ask them if they knew they were sinning. I think it sparked a conversation between her and my aunt – her sister – about me. Now anytime I text my aunt, she asks me about my girlfriends. I laugh. I lie if I’m in the mood, and if I’m not, I answer that I’m focusing on my studies. It seems like she even asks her kids to ask me about girlfriends too. It’s silly when I’m in a good mood, and very irritating when I’m not.

Would I change any of these things? I don’t think so. The people that know me know that my being out has been a rocky adventure with more downs than ups. I haven’t been beaten or kicked out of my home – but does that invalidate the hardship or psychological trauma I’ve been through? It isn’t the “hardship Olympics”.

The relationship I have with my mother is strained. This is where the majority of my psychological issues started from. I got depression. I have considered suicide more than once and not even as a passing thought but something I really wanted to do especially during the early phases. It’s a painful thing to have someone you think the whole world of suffer because of you. It’s a painful thing to see your mother starve herself (aka fast) because of you. Now add being constantly admonished and begged to change, but you know you can’t. Add being made to believe the devil is chasing after you and then taken to deliverance, and then starved. Take all of that and put it on a 17-year-old. Nah man! I may not have been kicked out of the house but my soul and heart and mind have been pummeled and it’s just the grace of meeting so many wonderful people, Glee, Katy Perry’s Firework, and certain verses of the bible that have led me to be on a path to healing.

I made a post recently on a Facebook queer group I’m in about my brother accepting me and saying how great it is to be out and accepted (I didn’t even ask anyone to come out, I just stated what I believed in), and some people in the group felt like I was whitewashing the coming out process. I decided not to let it rain on my parade. I have lost too many battles in making my immediate zone homophobia-free to not share the victory. And the victory was sweet. It’s like the joy of a mother giving birth. There was pain during labour but the joy of new life seems to cancel it out.

I know coming out doesn’t always lead to acceptance or even lead to anywhere good at all. And it would only be a fool or someone that crawled out of a rock that’s buried under another rock that has been fossilized into another rock to not know that coming out is not a bed of roses and probably doesn’t even have any flowers at all. But we have too many stories about the danger. People need to know that there is hope and that it’s not always bad news, and that even if you were outed, you can turn your lemons into lemonade.

And to be clear, I’m not for reckless coming out either. Before I told my cousin and brothers and the few straight friends I have, I had observed them and weighed the consequences. I checked whether I would be able to handle the consequences. Then I told them.

If I had my way, I would have waited till I was out of my house and making my money before letting my family know about me. A friend said he wants to come out on his Facebook timeline and I discouraged him and told him he could come out to people individually, people he feels he can trust. Maybe later he could do the Facebook coming out thing.

And one good thing about coming out on your own terms is just that – it’s on your own terms. You could have been putting safety nets in place in case things go south. You could subtly have been hinting so it’s not entirely a big surprise. You could fortify yourself so that any emotional blackmail thrown at you won’t be effective and if they decide to not take it well, you are ready for that too.

I have a couple of straight girlfriends. I mentioned the 14-year law and their responses were so homophobic, I recoiled from them. But I will still tell them, after I graduate, when I won’t have to see them after my news. It’s not always about being brave; sometimes it’s about bringing a face to the faceless. My homophobic elder brother is less homophobic now and my younger brother more tolerant. I called out my straight friend on his homophobia and told him I was gay and he apologised. I was in a car with another straight friend and his buddies and they made homophobic jokes and he didn’t join in. When they stepped out, he asked if I was alright and that I shouldn’t mind his friends. One day he might actually tell them to shut up when they make such jokes (a boy can dream).

Coming out isn’t easy. But it needs to be done. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. It doesn’t have to be a press conference or a Facebook announcement. Your colleagues at work may not need to know. But if you see the opportunity and you can handle the consequences, then seize it. This is for those that want to do it. It is fine if you don’t. Not everyone can handle being out. But to discourage others from doing it entirely is crab mentality.

Feel free to comment your opinions on coming out. Let this be a discussion. It is a much needed one in our community.

Written by IBK

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  1. Arabian Princess
    September 17, 07:04 Reply

    *shuts the door of the closet I’ve been dragged out from

    I’ll come to the out one day, be free and be happy

  2. Jamie 2.0
    September 17, 07:48 Reply

    I quite agree with you. As an out-to-family Gay person, I think that the stories have been all about what one stands to lose and how unhappy one would get, so much that the rest of the story (a possibility that we are strong, and can find alternative and better ways to handle situations) does not seem to apply to the LGBTIQ.
    Earlier this year, I made a post on my Facebook about how best to come out! I said; come out only when you want to; you get strong when you’re sure: and come out only to those rational enough you’d have reasons to trust. It was more elaborate than this, and in my mind, I thought I’d made a full-enough case; but someone came again to comment that “Yes. And it is better not to keep coming out to everyone. It’s risky”. But I’d already felt that every decision has to be taken with enough rationality. I think it comes from being used to fear, and expecting the worse to happen.
    My coming out wasn’t that rosy. Before then, everyone had been vocally homophobic at home. Now, the two people I saw good enough to out myself to hardly spill homophobic bile carelessly around me. It changed them too. And even though this has given me a sense of freedom and all. I suggested myself that they could try to change me if they could…. for some time. One has already failed, and the other is still trying and failing. It means I’m in control, even if it’s just my imagination. I don’t know how worse it could get; but it never would be better if they knew or not. I think it’d be even worse with them left to imagine sillier things.
    Keep being strong.

  3. Ólay
    September 17, 08:00 Reply

    This one you’re saying it needs to be done as if we’re not in Nigeria. everyone’s situation is different oooo. Me, I might come out Oneday but that day is still years away cos i don’t have my own house yet and I’m not done with school. your family is quite tolerant, i’m completely certain my family will throw me out if they find out shit. so I need to be independent before saying anything silly

  4. Gad
    September 17, 09:45 Reply

    I’m yet to be convinced on the rationale behind this so called coming out. I strongly believe there are aspects of an individual, s life that should remain private and secret for ever. Yes. Millions of secrets lies buried in cemeteries yet the world carries on in peace and harmony. I know that gay activists see coming out as a means to an end but I don’t share the opinion. Though, I often use gay relationships during discussions as examples of freedom of choice which ought to be respected by all since it hurts no one,I will NEVER discuss my sexuality with anyone. This made my priest to call me into his office sometimes last year and asked about my sexuality. My reply was, ” Sir, how will my answer be beneficial to your pastoral duties “? He apologized and said that he was just wondering because, I use gay examples a lot. I think what we call homophobic Nigeria is a complex phenomenon because from my observations so far, those who attack gays do so mainly to steal from them. These stealings could be in form of properties or positions.In any case,if one feels the need and merits in coming out,he should go ahead but I don’t advocate that even though my family knows me.
    Lastly,I feel alarmed that people still contemplate suicide due to how others relate with them. My people, let’s begin to see that we are responsible for our safety and happiness. We need the love of our families just as they need ours but if it doesn’t come, we should” happify” ourselves. The more children of the same parents grow and advance in years and other aspects of life,the wider the chances of something that might pull them apart becomes. It usually lands,choice of a partner,etc but if yours happens to be your sexuality, fine. Embrace it and be fine. Suicide is not cool at all.

  5. Mandy
    September 17, 10:02 Reply

    Most people who preach against coming out live in the terror of how homophobic their families and environments are. You hear things like “My parents will kill me if I come out” and “My people are too homophobic, they’ll crucify me if they knew I’m gay”.
    But the thing is, they can afford to be prejudiced when to be gay is something alien to them, something they cannot relate to. Just like IBK pointed out, his coming out changed his brothers and friends. Once homosexuality hits close to home, the way these family members see it mostly changes. It no longer becomes ‘that thing those people do’. It becomes their son, their daughter, their brother, their sister.
    If not for anything else, coming out is a teaching process. It’s one way you can use to educate the homophobes that you’re literally just like them, just like everyone else.
    Coming out should be done with care and caution, but it should be done. It’s important if not for you to live your truth but for those around you to rethink their bias.

  6. tony
    September 17, 10:29 Reply

    Reading this I just thought of my mom and dad, I think their depression and despair when they find out will lead to my death. So I better not give them a reason to cry. At least I can still deal with my own sadness.

  7. quinn
    September 17, 12:00 Reply

    No one came out to me as straight!, why should I then, if they don’t get the hints, then it’s not my problem, but I totally agree with the writer 100%

    • Pink Panther
      September 17, 14:23 Reply

      No one came out to you as straight?

      You are listening to yourself as you say that, right?

      • Wonda Buoy
        September 17, 16:29 Reply

        Yes. You can come out as straight…if you were gay, just like one of my Facebook friends that has been ranting for days now. People are beginning to think he needs help to balance his mentality. Should I share link here?

        • El
          September 18, 15:31 Reply

          please do.

        • Yazz Soltana
          September 18, 21:46 Reply

          Share the link I don’t want to miss the opportunity for some quality Earl Grey Lemon Tea in my life…

  8. Brian Collins
    September 17, 18:17 Reply

    Good read. What I picked out was ” do it on your own terms”.
    ION: Has anyone seen the zikoko.com post about Bob Risky and Tunde Ednut

  9. Canis VY Majoris
    September 18, 06:45 Reply

    “Coming out isn’t easy. But it needs to be done”.

    No it doesn’t.

    • Delle
      September 18, 09:07 Reply

      Oh but it does.
      For visibility.
      For liberation.
      For independence.

      No one is saying or mandating you to come out, but if you can, why hold yourself back?

      • Canis VY Majoris
        September 18, 12:22 Reply

        “But if you can”

        That alone, makes a whole world of difference.

  10. Malik
    September 18, 19:57 Reply

    Well, I find coming out quite exciting. Maybe liberating is the correct word. I’m out to about 10 people, only one of which is a relative. I’m also out to one stupid fellowship like that that asked us to be confessing our sins to prevent sudden onset of the wrath of God. (I was in 100 level then, and I was a fool.)

    Apart from this incident, I’ve been careful with who I share my private information with. I desperately want to tell my roommates, to educate them, but I remind myself of the homophobia in their jokes… At the same time, I feel it would be unfair to keep so much of myself away from them.

    I really can’t wait to be out to everyone I know. I feel it’s a necessary way forward, not just for me but for them.

  11. DarkSide
    September 19, 12:14 Reply

    Coming out is a thorny issue. The homophobia in society runs deep and the fear is understood. Coming out is very important as many have already pointed out. Personally, my approach would be to laud those who want to come out and refrain from judging those who dont want to.

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