AND THE WINNERS ARE…

AND THE WINNERS ARE…

The judges have returned with the winning stories for the birthday giveaway pride literary competition.

And the four stories are posted below.

We will reach out to the winners on or before Monday to communicate the reception of their prizes to them.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this. All the stories. All the lives lived in these stories. We hope to preserve these stories by turning the entire submissions into a collection of short stories that will be put up for download in the nearest future.

In the meantime, here are your winners:

 

ENTRY 7

FOR ALL THAT ARE LOST AND ARE GAINED – by Kainene

A bottle of Carlo Rossi, the slow trickling sound as he poured its contents into the glass. I almost think I can count all the drops that make it into the glass and the ones I spill on the brown mahogany table.

Pride…

I first came across the concept of pride on a cold November, while sitting with Afam. Maybe if I had found out about it under different circumstances, my first reaction to it would not have been shame.

“It is that time of the year when ndi TB will come and shelle for no reason,” he said roughly. “Wave flags and celebrate this abomination we indulge in.”

I blinked.

“It’s nothing to be proud of,” he said bitterly before downing his glass of wine and proceeding to fuck me without an atom of tenderness.

Internalized homophobia, I would come to learn it’s called. I was 17. I eventually left him, but he left a bit of him in me, a bit of the self-loathing, the shame, his habit of downing alcohol excessively or doing a line of cocaine or smoking a blunt before sex. To enable him take his mind off the “sin”, he would say.

Then I met Obinna. Pride, he said, was a time of the year when the gays pushed to further their “agenda”, instead of trying to quell their sinful desires. All these he said after we met in the dark in his small storehouse in Oji, after the hurried sex with his palm pressed over my mouth to suppress my moans as he rammed into me with manic energy.

I left, and I left with a bit of yet another person’s IH. His habit of praying in tears every morning after a night with me.

Fast forward to six years later, after two suicide attempts, a long battle with anorexia, alcohol and substance abuse, I finally learnt to dispel my internalized homophobia and battle my demons.

I have finally come to redefine pride.

Pride, to me, is that time of the year when I remember people like Afam and Obinna. People caged in despair and self-loathing with no chance of escape.

It is that time of the year when I mourn people like Alor, who is not dead in the real sense of the word, but lives in perpetual fear and agony since that hot night in boarding school, when the seniors slashed his ankles with razors and taunted him with screams of “Homo!” as he dragged himself half-conscious and bloody across the field.

A time of year when I remember the little boy who I taught during my IT two years ago, who was stripped and lashed in front of the entire school for daring to slip a love note to the boy who sat two rows away. Fidelis, I think he was called.

I remember my parents and their unwavering support that I never would have thought possible two years ago.

Pride is that time of the year when I remember all that I have lost and gained, and my deep hope for what lies before me. And when the time comes to march, I will march for the memories of the ones we have lost in this battle. Our own long night, so to speak.

 

 

ENTRY 30

LET US SHINE – by John O.

It wasn’t until my late teens that I started to associate love with fear. I had, until then, harboured my love for family, which was always warm, never frightening, the exchange entirely euphoric, requiring nothing from me that I couldn’t provide so easily – until my Dad cheated on my mom countlessly and was diagnosed of end-stage HIV, which he never survived. I became closer to my mom and promised to be there for her regardless of anything. She was the sole reason why it took me so long to embrace pride as it comes.

The very first time I said to myself: “John, you are gay and these church programs and services, fasting and prayers won’t reverse this unique thing about you. Not even that of your mother.” I was overwhelmed with shame and the need to disappear into oblivion. But in the subsequent months that followed, I came to realise that it takes courage and pride to be alive as a Nigerian gay man. I started setting standards for myself to survive. I realised that pride may mean many things to different people. But to me, I learnt to define pride as “being able to uphold one’s sexuality and to not be afraid to share it. Not in a way where it is in everyone’s face, but more so that one is not ashamed to express it towards those who don’t understand or don’t even want to understand.”

I have successfully let my colours shine through to my immediate family that consists of my mother and three siblings, who expected me to get married. As I blurted out these words in an unrehearsed manner – that I am gay – to them, and as such, can’t be expected to deceive any woman into marriage, I was firstly overwhelmed by a feeling of shame, a shame I thought I had owned before the confession. So that it sat there, useless and awkward in one side of my brain, as I narrated what it takes to be gay with limited eye contact at both my mom and siblings. My brother was the first to hug me. The other two left the living room, one after the other, leaving us behind.

This was one scenario in my life that never sought for permission before happening. I started to change deep within. I knew that I was changing. Something was making me happier but making them equally sadder. At this point, my life started to take form. Making a lot more meaning than it did throughout my twenty-six years of my existence. I became proud of my mannerisms. It was as though I freed a beast from its dungeon.

But this beast – Me – has come to stay with all the pride there is to own up to, as long as I breathe.

I write with tears and swollen eyes that one day, our courage to educate everyone that is ignorant will yield fruit, and that providence will let us shine, always, with pride.

 

 

ENTRY 45

I AM A MISFIT – by Jennie K.

Pride, to me, is not just the combination of beautiful colors and a symbol of LGBTQIA all over the world. Or plenty of sex, forgiveness, love and understanding.

Pride means more to me than what is stated above.

I was seated in a corner with my long, colorful necklace which has “I am a Misfit” boldly etched on it, when I sighted rainbows in the sky. Everyone was oblivious to the beautiful, multiple colors that sat majestically on the silver lining that holds the sky on this humid afternoon. Everyone I showed this beauty shrugged and could not be bothered with its significance.

And for a moment, I wondered why.

It is normal to not see the rainbow, and that is okay. However, it would be possible for them to see a little change that will make all the difference, if only they would shift their perspective to understand that the cloud will not always have a silver lining.

This made me think about how people have been conditioned to hate, discount or dismiss what they do not understand and everything that stands outside the norm of the majority. Like a banker or lawyer saying agriculture does not concern them and so pay zero attention to crops and soil. So are heterosexual Nigerians who are quick to easily call queers “abnormal” and not worth sparing a thought for.

The beauty traditional conservatives have failed to see is that people are diverse and this is what makes our world colorful.

This is what defines pride for me.

Pride is love. Beauty behind tears. Long suffering and light at the end of a tunnel. It is acceptance for diversity. Understanding of uniqueness. Respect for the human race.

It is freedom to be. Confidence to wear your true identity without fear.

It is owning your truth and power to live this truth.

Pride is beautiful, and inclusive. Pride is the symbol of a safe space. Pride gives the energy to be visible. Pride is a house full of colors that represents the power and beauty of everyone. Pride is what the world needs. Pride is peaceful coexistence and the determination to never be put down for who we are.

And yes, Pride, to me, is good sex and multiple orgasms from persons of my gender. I am a lesbian and I wear my pride as sure as that necklace with “I am a Misfit” boldly etched on it.

 

 

ENTRY 16

FOR MY FRIEND WHO LIVED – by Daniel U.

What does pride mean to you? What does it mean to anyone?

I used to have a friend; he is late now, clearly in a better place, honestly.

He was fun to be with, a good dancer, and a very lively spirit. He was everything I wanted to be. And because I could not be so much of who he was, I settled for his company every chance I got. But there was just one problem. He was girly. Now, that was not a problem to me; if anything, it was the reason why I always wanted to be around him. He was the definition of REAL – something we don’t get a lot of these days.

You see, I had other friends too; they weren’t all his friends, but they knew each other. We all knew each other, but we were all hiding. And anytime the need for him was presented to us, it was mostly shut down. He is too obvious… He is too loud… People will look at us somehow.

Don’t get me wrong, I understood the situation. I got it. We didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves. It wasn’t safe for people like us – hell, it still isn’t safe.

My friend was targeted for the way he was. Laughed at. Beaten. Avoided in public by some of his peers. He was once denied the Best Dancer award back in secondary school, because, God forbid a boy who dances like a girl should win the award for Best Dancer.

I remember this one time we met for the first time after secondary school. He told me to meet him at a bar and I did. I called him to the reception to come get me, and boy, did he come dripping through. In his six-inch stilettos, which he bought with his own money, for himself. Can you beat that?

He took me into the bar where he was coaching some models around a pool, and there were other people there too. The raggedy ones simply glared, while the affluent ones mostly minded their business, because it was his job, he was being paid to do it, and he was doing it.

What does pride mean to me? What does it mean to anyone? My friend was Pride itself. He didn’t lead a Stonewall riot. He wasn’t Harvey Milk. But he lived proudly, more so than anyone else I may ever know.

Pride is guts. Pride is strength over norm. Pride is daring ‘to be’ in a world that tells us, don’t you dare! But we do it anyway. And not because we want to make a statement or start a movement, but because it’s our life and sooner or later, just like everyone else, it will all be over. So, what’s the point of hiding?

If we are going to be alive, shouldn’t we at least live?

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10 Comments

  1. Mandy
    July 24, 08:14 Reply

    The stories are really beautiful. That first entry by Kainene though… Really fantastic. The journey to pride described there is so relatable, showing how often times, it’s not just our bullshit we have to overcome but others’ as well. Congratulations, guys.

  2. demi
    July 24, 08:47 Reply

    kainene’s entry was a standout.. great job fellas

  3. Tman
    July 24, 09:12 Reply

    Fantastic winnings I must say. The judges must have had a hell of a job picking the standout four.

    We are not just a community of like beings, we are a community of intellect.

    Congrats to the winners once more, your stories all glow.

  4. Yk
    July 24, 09:13 Reply

    Entry 7 and entry 16 are amazing beyond what words can describe. Woow! Masterpiece

  5. Lex
    July 24, 19:49 Reply

    The pride …. we are ‘multicoloured’ with intellect.
    Great write-ups

  6. J
    July 24, 19:58 Reply

    Nice work people! Daniel U. really gave a good insight on the struggle of many feminine gay men.

  7. Pearl
    July 26, 14:18 Reply

    Beautiful entries.. congrats to the winners

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