I was arguing with a friend of mine just the other day. We were sitting out as a group, having drinks during the weekend. One of us was expecting a guy he met online who was supposed to come and join us. This would be the first time that they’d be meeting in person. The guy later arrived and I recognized him myself; tall, light-skinned, skinny, very girly and works in a bank. We’d met before but did not click; he had not seen the movies I had seen, nor had he read the books I had read. We had nothing in common, but today he was coming to meet with my friend. He joined our table, greeted everyone and the conversation continued. His host paid him very little attention and continued chatting away with us (clearly he did not like the guy physically), and I thought this was very rude.

The guy, having reading the hand writing on the wall, made some excuses and left less than an hour after he arrived. As soon as he left, I attacked Tayo (not real name), telling him that he was a prick for disrespecting someone who left this house, and spent his time to come and see him. He asked if I expected him to go home with a flaming queen and finally give strength to his neighbors’ suspicions. I told him that he should have at least paid the guy some attention, he did not have to go home with him. He hauled abuse at me too and tempers rose till we were shouting at the top of our voices.

All this while, another friend in our midst, Eric (not real name again) was quiet, like he was in deep thought, while some other people at the table tried to calm the rising tempers between Tayo and I. Suddenly Eric spoke: “Dennis, sometimes you are silly and you live in denial. You climb on a high horse, waving your gay advocate flag. And you act like you forget the country that we live in, you act like you forget what exactly it’s like. Tayo’s concerns are very valid; don’t dismiss them, because you will be lying to yourself by doing that.”

I was quiet for a few seconds as I considered what was thrown at me. I also remembered what Lothario said here some other day. And right there in that noisy bar, I began to think to myself: Before I became Dennis Macaulay, who was I? What did I believe? What did I do?

When the answers came right back to me, I did not argue any further with them.

I remember several moons ago when I was a bright-eyed student of FGC. I was in SS2 and the seniors had just left. So we became prefects in our third term and officially became the big boys. We swapped our blue pants for denims and our china whites gave way to boutique-bought ready-to-wear shirts. I remember there was a boy, he was biracial and in JSS2 at the time. His skin was like porcelain, lips red like plum, he was so fragile and so pure that I sought to protect him from seniors who seized provisions and bullied juniors. I was the library prefect and one day, I was alone with him in the library and I kissed him; his lips tasted like wine, sweet and intoxicating, and I knew I wanted more. That kiss was the first of several, until one day, when another senior walked in on us, while this guy was giving me head.

Everything changed for me from that day. This senior, who was my mate, never told a soul, as he was my friend. But he started blackmailing me silently. He never made any threats, but when you owe someone a big one, and they begin to ask for different things after that… Go figure. Over the several months we spent as seniors, I split all my provisions into two and gave him one part, along with half of my pocket money. I did all his assignments and even wrote an exam for him once. All he had to do was say “jump”, and I would ask “how high”. I needed his silence, I couldn’t deal with anybody knowing, and my mom was very active in the PTA.

I left high school unscathed and went to the university, which was liberation for me; a chance to reinvent myself and leave the old me behind. It helped that my high school was miles away from my university location, so I was happy that my secret would stay buried. I became paranoid and desperate to prove my straightness. I avoided anyone who was effeminate, as if they had the plague. I joined homophobes to throw darts at gay folks. I was a hypocrite, an idiot and a homophobic homosexual. On campus, I was a popular guy, with loads of girlfriends. I was playing the script well (or so I thought), and I had validation and acceptance. What more could a boy want.

When did I change? I cannot exactly recall, but I remember chatting with an old school mate during NYSC, and she told me that gay rumors were whispered around me sometimes during my stay in the university. I nearly collapsed with shock.

And right there, seated on the grass in the orientation camp, it hit me; in spite of all my pretence and the great lengths I went to be the idiot that I was, which cost me so many close friendships, some people still saw through me. What then was the point? What did I sacrifice all my happiness for?

So, Lothario and Tayo, allow me to say this: yes, I remember what it was like, yes I remember when I was an idiot, but I look back at those years with shame. I gave people so much power over me, that in seeking validation, I became another person. And I now regret how I lived my life back then. I am covered with shame when I remember some of the things I did, some to other gay people.

This evolution – or metamorphosis, if you like – may not be everybody’s journey or story; chestnut made this point some other day, when he said that not everybody has evolved, and not everybody may want to evolve anyways. He is very correct. For me, however, at the end of the day, it is for one to do whatever brings you happiness, whatever brings you peace. But let me say that having being on both sides of the divide, I prefer being DM. I am a better individual this way.

Written by Dennis Macaulay