AT THE END OF MY BREATH (Part 2)

AT THE END OF MY BREATH (Part 2)

Previously on AT THE END OF MY BREATH…

*

“My name is Dillish. And I’m gay.”

After I said this, I took a moment to observe the reaction from the others in the room. There was no outburst, just muted expressions of surprise and affront. Not knowing how to take this, I hesitated before asking if any one of them had any questions regarding my revelation before I continue.

A man who looked to be in his thirties (let’s call him Ade) spoke up. With an accompanying look of disgust on his face, he said, “How can a man be gay? How man go see woman nyash finish, come dey look man own? This world should do and come to an end quickly.” He shook his head at this.

The therapist turned to him and reproached him, telling him to be civil with his opinions. But I interjected, saying that I was okay with what he had said.

Then I turned to Ade and said, “How can a man be straight? How man go comot eyes from man nyash dey look woman own? I don’t understand this, but please help me understand.”

My response brought about quiet laughter in the room, and this provoked Ade to say sharply that it is because being straight is what is natural. That it is what the Bible says. And besides, that being gay is a choice, and a very, very bad choice.”

One of the women in the group agreed with him, adding something about the Sodom and Gomorrah story to support her claim.

I paused and asked if anyone else believed that homosexuality was a choice. Some nodded their heads, while others said they didn’t know. The doctors were the only ones who didn’t react one way or the other.

I looked at Ade and asked, “At what point did you choose” – I placed an emphasis on the word – “to be straight?”

He responded with the moment he liked girls.

I reared back in mock surprise, saying a sarcastic “Wow”, before continuing, “So when you reached that age when you started developing sexual feelings, the Spirit of God ministered unto you in your sleep, saying, ‘Ade, it’s time to like girls,’ and you said, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Is that it?”

There was another eruption of laughter, which I ignored as I added, “Or did you simply find yourself liking girls without any conscious decision?” This time, I turned to the group and repeated the question: “Did any of you simply find yourselves liking the opposite sex without any conscious decision?”

Three people agreed, saying their sexual desires came naturally to them. Ade looked like he was mentally scrambling for a rebuttal, but none was coming to him. So then, he settled on protesting that there was nothing I’d say that would make him change his mind. I told him that I wasn’t here to debate with him or lecture anyone about my sexuality. I was here to get some healing by telling my story.

This seemed to subdue him and others in the room. I clearly had their rapt attention. So I began.

***

I was born into a polygamous household in Lagos. My father had two wives. I fell into the third generation of my father’s children; we grouped ourselves in generations, depending on the age gaps that existed amongst us siblings.

The things people usually have to say about polygamous households – the jealousy, the rivalry and all other forms of negativity – were alien to me as I grew up. In fact, my home was exactly the opposite. We were very close and loving. As a child, I never lacked, and my father took good care of us all, which didn’t leave room for anyone to feel like they had to outdo the other. My parents were very strict, to the extent of restricting our movements and socializing. As kids, we only had school friends, who we saw only when we went to school.

And like most gay people, I discovered my attraction to boys at a young age.

***

Ade interrupted me here, when he said with a snort, “This is a new one. What do children even know about sexual attraction?”

The therapist was the one who responded, when he asked him, “Did you never have a childhood crush?”

He said no.

The other doctor, looking incredulous, asked, “So you mean to tell us you never liked a woman or girl secretly when you were a kid? Unless you are not being honest with us or to yourself.” Then he turned to me, clearly dismissing Ade, and told me to continue.

***

I was confused when I began realizing my attraction to boys, because I had never come across anyone who said anything about boys who like other boys. I didn’t even know what to call it; hadn’t ever heard of the words, “homosexuality” or “gay”. I thought I was the only one in the world who had these feelings, and this scared me into keeping the knowledge of it to myself. However, I had to deal with the fact that the older I got, the stronger these feelings became.

Then, my family relocated to our current house in Alimosho. A new life in a new environment. Before this relocation, my family wasn’t religious. We rarely went to church, and when we did, we were always deliberately tardy, except during Christian celebrations like Easter and Christmas. We didn’t care much for church services.

But in our new place, there was a church close by, and its nearness sort of prompted my family to start becoming regular attendants. Soon, a change in our religiosity manifested; we became active church members, joined societies and organizations. And this was when I was introduced to the sermon of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all the ways it represented how hateful and evil the things I was feeling was, and how those who practised it went straight to hell.

This scared me. The thought of hell and how terrifying it was made to seem had me feeling unsettled. I began peppering myself with questions and self-doubt, and looking for ways to stop these feelings. It was no longer enough for me to just be there and keep it a secret; I prayed and fasted. I started developing a deep resentment for myself. I’d beg God for forgiveness whenever I felt the slightest tug of emotions for any boy. I would persistently rebuke the spirit of homosexuality to get away from me so I can be free, just as my pastor often preached.

But no matter what I did, however much denial I lived in, I knew deep down that this wasn’t going away. So, I lived with it and pretended that that part of me didn’t exist.

I got into SS1 in 2009, when 2go became a thing. I didn’t know of its existence, until a friend told me about it, about how fun the app was. About meeting new people through it, and how there was even a room in it for Nigerian gays and lesbians. He had my interest at this point. I asked how this room was, and he said that I’d be shocked by the type of comments that were often made in these rooms.

I was intrigued and resolved to get on the app. Problem was: I didn’t have a phone. All this time, I never knew there were other people like me in Nigeria. And now, suddenly, there were all these rooms online where people like me thrived. I had to be on 2go by every means necessary.

That same evening after my friend revealed all these things to me, I took my mom’s phone, a Nokia C10, downloaded the app and sought out the gay room. At first, I observed. Then I slowly started becoming a part of the conversations by commenting. And the more I commented, the more addicted I got to 2go. I just couldn’t get over what an escape this virtual environment was providing for me. I was starting to make friends, chatting one on one with lots of guys, many of them much older guys. Some were asking for us to meet and others were simply content with sexting. I didn’t even know I was good at sexting until I tried it once, and I realised I had a gift. I even got a good education out of it, because I was learning to type well and expand my English vocabulary.

This went on for a long time. Even some of my siblings started noticing my addiction to my mom’s phone. They would idly wonder out loud about how much time I was spending with the phone. One evening, I was using the phone in my mom’s room; her door was locked, but I was lying on her bed, my back positioned against the wall, facing the window, whose drapes I didn’t pull close. Thus, exposing my chats to whoever would be outside my mother’s room window. And my elder brother, my mother’s first child, was there.

As I chatted, I heard a knock on the door. I went and opened it. He stepped into the room, snatched the phone from me and left. He did this with the kind of purpose that told me that no amount of begging would make him give me back the phone. So, I didn’t even bother going after him. I just sat down on the bed and let my fear over what he wanted with the phone take hold of me. Questions and guilt surged through me. I didn’t know what to do. I was petrified.

Then, I settled on a decision: to act naïve and deny, deny, deny.

Days went by without my brother saying anything to me. I began to relax, believing that he must have forgotten all about me. However, I never got to see the phone, no matter how hard I tried to get ahold of it, at least so I could delete the 2go app.

Then, on a Sunday afternoon, he called me to the second sitting room. As soon as I entered, he locked the door and told me to sit down. My stepbrother, older than the two of us, was there too. I knew instantly what was up and my heart started pounding hard. Inside me, I was telling myself to calm down, that I had a plan to deny everything, that they couldn’t pin anything on me if I simply maintained my innocence.

The questions began coming at me from my stepbrother. “Are you gay?” he asked.

There was anger in his voice, but it didn’t deter me as I replied no. He got angrier and said I should better be truthful for my sake, otherwise he would tell the whole family about this.

I maintained my denial, saying again that no, I wasn’t gay.

He produced the incriminating phone, showing me a chat where I sexted someone. “Care to explain this then?” he snapped.

I told him it was nothing, that I was just fooling around.

He opened another chat, one where I agreed to meet some guy after Winners Chapel’s first visit. He snapped, “Where you playing around with this one too?”

I said yes. Then continued, “Besides, Winners Chapel is very far from here. How will I go to visit someone who is that far away? Where will I get the money from? I don’t even know anywhere in Lagos, let alone Ota.”

He paused; clearly my argument had taken the wind out of his sails. He gave me a long stare and I stared unblinkingly back at him. And just like that, I could see his anger cracking and dissipating. It was apparent that he wanted to believe me, maybe even believed me already. Within me, I congratulated myself like, you did well, boy.

He was saying other things, which I didn’t pay any attention to, because I was so busy doing a mental victory dance. In the end, he handed me the phone and instructed me to delete the app since it was leading me to a very big sin. I promised to do so.

All this while, my brother sat there, quiet and observing me like he was reading my mind. I wasn’t sure I’d convinced him as I did my stepbrother with my prevarication. And I wasn’t willing to take any chances. I deleted the app, and resumed my journey to redemption. I joined some societies in church and began praying and fasting again, hoping that God would heal me.

However, the more I prayed, the more I felt these feelings thrive in me, and the more my self-loathing increased. This led to my internalised homophobia.

I got to SS2 and an incident happened that made me realize how destructive internalised homophobia is. I had this classmate who was very handsome. So very handsome; I didn’t like him like that though. He came to me one day and complained about how a boy in our class was harassing him and touching him “anyhow”. Now, I didn’t like this boy he was talking about because I felt like we weren’t on the same level. I had this snobbish and holier-than-thou attitude I exhibited toward classmates who I felt were either not on the same social status as I was or were too ungodly in the way they behaved. This boy (let’s call him Bode) was one of such classmates I actively disliked, for the reason of our social standing.

And to hear my handsome friend (let’s call him Chris) say these things about him filled me with glee. I promptly told Chris that Bode was a homo and that if he tries to touch him again, he should let me know so we can go report him to our class teacher.

The next day, Chris came to me and said Bode had done it again. This time, he’d forcefully tried to kiss him. During break time, I took Chris to the staffroom, where we reported the matter to our class teacher. She was furious and asked us to go bring Bode to her, which I joyfully did. I was so proud of myself. I took over the case from Chris as our class teacher questioned him, announcing the number of times he had assaulted Chris and shutting him down each time he tried to deny. I was in my element.

Our teacher was scandalized and reported the matter to a male teacher, a man we feared very much because of how cruelly he flogged students. The man was of course incensed to hear this and ordered Bode to lie face down on a table. Then he proceeded to mercilessly thrash Bode. I was right there, holding Bode’s hands together and enjoying the show while he pleaded and cried for forgiveness. As he was being flogged, our class teacher kept telling him to say amen to the prayers she was saying.

“Every spirit of gayism in your body, come out in Jesus name!” she would shriek.

And Bode would scream, “Amen!”

However, at some point during all this, I looked at him, at how dejected and physically humiliated he was, and I began to feel bad. I felt stabbed by such guilt as something inside me said accusingly to me: ‘But you and he are the same.’

I suddenly couldn’t bear to see him in this pain, and so, I excused myself from the room. I fled to the school toilet and locked myself inside a stall, where I began crying. And I beseeched God, telling him I didn’t want to be like this. Only, I wasn’t sure what “this” was anymore – whether homosexual or hateful.

When the crying jag was over, I wiped my eyes and went back to class. I found Bode and went to apologise to him. He told me to leave him alone. That day turned out to be the last time I would ever see him, because he left our school.

However, that experience began to change my life. I told myself I couldn’t go on with the headache of living this dishonest life. All I wanted to do was live. That was it. The first thing I did was to withdraw slowly from church. I left the societies I was part of and turned my back on friends who expressed any grouse with gay people.

I soon graduated from high school and had to stay at home for a year, since I didn’t write JAMB in my SS3. My dad got me my first Android phone, and the first thing I did was to download 2go. I tightened my security over it by passwording my phone. It was at this time that I met Kay. We met in a room where he was advocating for LGBT rights during an argument in the room. I added him and we started chatting. I confessed my fears and insecurities to him. I told him about what I’d been hearing about Sodom and Gomorrah.

He listened. And when I was done, he began to talk. To educate me. I knew nothing about my sexuality before I met Kay. He took the time to dismantle every toxicity I’d ever imbibed. He brought enlightenment to me, dispelling all the negative ideas I had regarding homosexuality. He educated me on how the story of Sodom and Gomorrah wasn’t about gay people.

He built me up and for the first time, I began to realize the value of self-acceptance. And when I did, I was at peace with myself and the vacuum I’d been growing up with all my life began to fill up.

And then I met Dillish. Yes, the guy whose real name inspired my KD pseudonym.

TO BE CONTINUED

Written by Dillish

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20 Comments

  1. Malik
    November 13, 09:04 Reply

    No. Don’t do this to me. Not after refreshing this page at least 3 times this morning, waiting for this story. I need to know how this ends! 😭

  2. Malik
    November 13, 09:08 Reply

    What you did to Bode though…

    Anyway, #FinishThisStoryAlready

  3. Mandy
    November 13, 09:30 Reply

    Notice how it was after you and your family became religious that your living in denial took a turn for the worse and your self-loathing set in. For an institution that is premised on love, Religion is such a catalyst for self hate and hate directed at humanity. It’s really sad and ironic.

    And the role you played in Bode’s humiliation… Boy, that guy could legit be somewhere out there, having his life reshaped because of that and hating you for it. Do send out an apology to him through the universe. No gay person deserves to be the victim of someone else’s internalised homophobia; only the person feeling such loathing should be the victim of his own venom.

  4. Demi
    November 13, 12:11 Reply

    I’m so enthralled to this story… What an incredible journey. I want the 3rd part already!!

  5. Tristan
    November 13, 12:53 Reply

    Hello from the other side, Ihuoma Chigozie(real name)

    If you are reading this, I want you to know how humiliating you made me feel when you outed me in front of your friends in SS1 after seducing and asking me to fondle your cock many times. You spearhearded my first gay experience and decided to shame me for it. It’s all so vivid in my memory now how you took so much advantage of my vulnerability, how I went home crying a river and questioned God for making me this way.

    But, in all, I look back and see the hilarity of it all and have found PEACE, Ihuoma. I have come to understand and love myself. I have grown and become a man. I survived. I bet it does not matter to you whether I have forgiven you or not. What does it matter? I have forgiven you anyways but forgotten.

    You were just a boy dear. Maybe you have grown too. I hope you didn’t grow to be internally homophobic. Be it as it may, may the odds be ever in your favour.

    e-xo.

    Your teenage lover,
    Tristan(pseudonym)

    • Sim
      November 13, 17:34 Reply

      Piggybacking to this.. Stanley real name but have forgotten his last name.

      May God punish u, after waking me up from sleep and virtually raping me cus ur twice or more my size then in SS2- You’ll still proceed to beat me up hoping to mind control me not to out u, yet every night you’ll u crawl into my space and molest me again and again.

      U stinky ass MF, I hope ur a flaring queen now, I hope ur in an abusive relationship and I hope ur man treats u as u treated me MF.

      • Pink Panther
        November 13, 18:05 Reply

        Damn. 😨😱😱
        Clearly, no forgiveness for Stanley, huh?

  6. Mike
    November 13, 18:02 Reply

    Me I’m trying to figure out how subconscious pain/emotional pain became physical pain. How your body decided to react to your subcontractor pain or something.

    English is fucking hard.

    • Tristan
      November 13, 18:45 Reply

      We really don’t know where Dillish would arrive at? Is it what I’m thinking. Sth deep inside him affecting him physically. Let’s just wait for the story to finish fess

    • Hodong
      November 14, 02:19 Reply

      Trust Me… Emotional Pain can cause havoc in one’s Physical life… That’s why they say… If you’re Emotional Balanced, You’ll definitely be Physically Balanced…

  7. The Observer
    November 13, 18:30 Reply

    Thanks so much for this post, you have really saved a life without knowing

    Since 2017 till date I have been having severe chest, arm and back pain that have transcended into every other parts of my being

    Yet each time I visit the hospital, am presented with a clean bill of test , despite carrying out expensive scans , tests .

    I have been to different specialist, Private, Government hospitals yet none could figure out what’s wrong

    Here in abuja am presently visiting nisa premier and the young doctor is routing for mental health and psychological disorder as another issue

    This post is an x ray of me, from 2go, to internal homophobia to a lot of things battling with plus the recent of pressure of ” When are you getting married question” I face daily

    Its really pushing me to pressure point,

    I have consulted an friend of mine on this , because I am sliding into depression

    I have withdrawn from friends, family and most times I just wished I am not existing

    Thanks so much for this because it reach a situation I started believing this thing is spiritual

    Am schedule to see doc soon I will bare my mind and insist on checking out my nerves cells

    Maybe I need a psychologist too

    • Pink Panther
      November 13, 19:10 Reply

      This is the beauty of the stories we share. One never knows whose life a story shared here is saving. I hope you get well, Observer.

    • flame
      November 18, 22:27 Reply

      @The Observer. You can ask your Medical Doctor for referral to a therapist or psychologist, but I do strongly suggest you do not put yourself to your MD. You cannot tell how he would respond to this, any negative reaction , however subtle may worsen your experience. Kindly see a trained therapist- at least they have a moral and professional obligation to make the experience better.

  8. Astar
    November 14, 00:21 Reply

    Vicky Beeching, a renown gospel singer and prominent gay woman, had a similar experience. She developed linear scleroderma due to trauma and stress that is a result of poor handling of her sexuality.

    To an extent, I think those of you that had a physical condition that led to your self acceptance are lucky.

    It took me surviving a suicide attempt, after paying costly prices and making huge sacrifices that worth not less than ten years of my life, to realise that I’m gay and can’t do anything about it.

  9. Hodong
    November 14, 02:25 Reply

    Reading this… The Part 1 and 2, hopefully waiting for 3…
    People are really going through alot and if they don’t tell you, you would never know, let’s always reach out to People we say we Love… You don’t need to force them to tell you their pain, but stand by them and support them, in due time they would be Vulnerable to You and if they don’t, still help and support them.

    @Pink Panther, thanks so much for giving people a chance to tell their Pain, their stories…

  10. Higwe
    November 14, 06:23 Reply

    You were just a boy dear. Maybe you have grown too. I hope you didn’t grow to be internally homophobic. Be it as it may, may the odds be ever in your favour.

    This !!!! 👆

    Met a childhood acquaintance who used to be downright horrid few months back , and he’s metamorphosed into such a charming gentleman.

    We all did things we are not proud of as kids .
    The important thing is that you turned out all right and hopefully he did too .

    If speaking about it relieves you somehow …then by all means …

  11. Doulton
    November 15, 15:23 Reply

    I think I need therapy too.
    Is there any body I can meet with in Lagos who is a professional and of course, open minded?

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