Getting into the scene after a long service year is quite exhausting. I tried to keep up while serving but my environment wouldn’t let me. I got busy partying with my fellow corper friends. We partied at every club you could think of in Calabar.

“What an overhyped town,” I usually said to myself.

Ebony Life TV just dey sell market wey no dey. The town is so small. All the so-called tourist attractions often preached about on TV are hours away from Calabar. For example, Obudu Cattle Ranch is like a six-hour-and-thirty-minute drive from Calabar.

Anyway, I was finally out of the town. I couldn’t be bothered. I got back to Lagos with so much zest. I’d missed my home city. After our passing out, I hopped on the next available flight to Lagos. Yes, it’s that serious.

I settled down at home and decided to download Grindr. I logged on to my profile.

“It’s been a while,” I said to myself.

My profile page came up and messages from everywhere began tumbling in – Hey sexy… Hello dear… Sup, you wanna fuck?

Lol, kilode? Nah only me?

I began to delete the messages. I wasn’t in the mood for all this totori things. I needed fresh people. It’s like going to hunt and you say you want to catch dead animals. Something is doing your head. I had an agenda, which was to meet new friends. There were fine, fine pictures everywhere. I scrolled up and down severally, looking for the one that would catch my fancy.

I found one and I read his profile. Quite inspiring – you know, all those “life is full of beautiful things” kinda talk. I buzzed him. He replied immediately. In my mind, I was like: Oshey! Chop five! Your head is there.

We started chatting. During the chatversation, he mentioned he was into BDSM, something he claimed to thoroughly enjoy. I didn’t understand what it meant, until I hastened to Google to search for its meaning. I was shell-shocked. I didn’t reply the nigga. I packed my load and went hunting for another person.

Then I saw this profile picture. I chuckled to myself when I recognized him – or rather, the back of his head. The face was turned away in the photo.

Is this not Lagbaja (not real name)? I thought.

“It can’t be!” I exclaimed.

I went to the profile description. What I read didn’t match the person I know. Instantly, I knew something was off. It was clear to me; this individual was using my friend’s picture on his page. This Lagbaja that I’m talking about is a notable figure in the fashion industry. That was why I’d been surprised to see his picture on Grindr; it is something you wouldn’t expect a celebrity, big or small, who’s gay, to do.

Immediately, I messaged the impersonating bobo. My words: Hello, it is very disrespectful to use someone else’s picture on here. The guy you are impersonating is a notable person in Nigeria, especially Lagos. This is someone I know and I have met several times. Kindly take his picture down and use someone else’s picture. Or perhaps even yours. Thanks.

As the Good Samaritan that I am, I went on instagram to message Lagbaja that some enemy of progress was out there tarnishing his image o! He should be careful.

When I returned to Grindr, the bobo had replied me. See me thinking the goat would heed my attempt at reasoning with him and take down the picture. He replied me, saying: Hi, I liked the guy and that’s why I used his picture, even though we have not met. I’m not disclosing his face. Nobody will know it’s him. I will take it out when I want. Thanks for your observation.

Jesus! What effrontery! I reported the page several times to make Grindr authorities get his ass out. I mean, come on! This is wrong! And some of us are steadily guilty of this. We pick people’s pictures up from the internet or social media, even gay porn stars, and use them as our display picture on dating/hookup sites. What is that?! How about you use yours to get the attention you are seeking, rather than use someone else’s and fool yourself when it comes to meeting in person. You’re only proving how desperate and foolish you are if you’re an online impersonator. Also, you’re putting innocent people at risk. In our society, people get mobbed steady for things they aren’t responsible for. The mob mentality in Nigeria usually operates on ‘strike first and ask questions later’. Impersonating someone places an undeserved target on this person. Or at the very least, exposes him to possible attention he may very well not want. These perils are something the impersonator is clearly aware of, hence him not using his own picture on his profile. It baffles me then that such a person will do to someone else what he wouldn’t do to himself. What sort of callous disregard is that?

If we say we want acceptance in this country, we must be ready to accept ourselves first. Be proud of your body. Be proud of your skin. Be proud of your dick. Be proud of your ass. Own yourself. Do not give yourself the value you haven’t worked for. Allow yourself to grow. If you don’t want to use your picture, use animals (there are sexy ones), sensual quotes, nature photos, snapshots of torsos and the likes. Don’t be justified in your impersonation with the rationalization that you didn’t put the person’s facial picture out there. The truth is you don’t need a facial view of an individual before you can recognize him or her. Immediately I saw the picture, I knew it was Lagbaja.

In the name of God, dear Nigerian gay man, do the right thing, and observe the right result come to you. Like they say, the change we want begins with us.

Written by AJ

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