BLACK AS DARKNESS, WHITE AS DAY

BLACK AS DARKNESS, WHITE AS DAY

Previously on THIS STORY: I was set up on Friday, lured to my entrapment, beaten and relieved of my possessions, and thereafter, got ‘saved’ by the SARS police, only to proceed to spend an entire weekend under the custody. I was outed to my brother and had to be released upon a 200 thousand naira bail.

But the story continues…

*

The rest of Monday went by in a blur of activity. My third-oldest brother and I didn’t talk much; we simply had some things to get settled in Lagos in order to be able to fly back to Enugu the next day. First I was taken to my workplace, where it was easy to get a short leave of absence, considering my story (that I’d been kidnapped) and how I looked. The office directed me to the company clinic to get checked up. The check-up was very perfunctory, and then I was released. As this went on, using my Nokia torch phone (which was the only thing, beside my wallet, which I got back from the entire nightmare), I called my childhood friend, Jerry. According to my flatmate Zubby, Jerry had been helping with information and direction on how to best locate me during the time Zubby was searching for me. I called him to thank him for the part he played, and he accepted my gratitude graciously. Little did I know that Jerry had been less of a friend during this ordeal; in fact, he’d been a real snake. I would get to know this later.

Tuesday came, and my brother and I flew to Enugu. I have two siblings living in Enugu, my oldest brother and my sister. We first went to my oldest brother’s office; his countenance as he received us betrayed the fact that he already knew everything about what happened. As in, everything! He is the most homophobic of my siblings, and I could tell from his stiffness around me that he was struggling with this new revelation about me.

From his office, my third brother and I went to my sister’s workplace. Unlike my brother, she didn’t ask for us to come in to see her. She preferred instead to come out to see us. Part of me wondered if this was because she felt that I was wearing my homosexuality like an ugly mark on my forehead, one which would reveal to everyone who saw me the disgrace I was bringing to my family. The thought didn’t help with the guilt that weighed down on my soul.

She got inside and promptly began her queries.

“Bia nwoke m, when did you start all this nonsense?”

“2007,” I replied woodenly.

“With who?”

“He’s dead.”

“What happened?”

“He raped me.”

You see, somewhere within me, I was still frantically holding on to the determination to preserve myself, my image for my family. Somehow, I believed that if I could just paint a narration that didn’t show me off to be the raging homosexual that I am, that if I could make it seem like homosexuality just happened to me, then perhaps all this would pass quickly and things would go back to the way they were.

That hope however was shattered when my sister said, “All these things you’re saying… Hmm, I don’t know what to believe o. We talked to Jerry when we were searching for you, and he told us everything. He told us that you are gay, a confirmed gay. Those were his words – confirmed gay. So what are you now saying?”

I was speechless with shock. Jerry had outed me to my family even before it became an issue?! So apparently, my brother had known before he even came to Lagos. And to think I’d been desperately trying to get the police not to tell him what he’d already been made aware of. In that moment, I felt ravaged by hurt, by a sense of betrayal. A friend I trusted to be my confidant, my ally, had turned the knife in my back – not the first or second opportunity he got, now that I think of it, but for the umpteenth time.

That was when I swore to sever ties with Jerry. I couldn’t believe how my closet was just disintegrating around me, and all I could do was watch.

My brother and I then returned to Onitsha, and he dropped me off at home. My mother received us. She was cold, just a little distant. She’d been told everything too, by my sister. Just her though; my father knew about the ‘kidnapping’ but not about my sexuality. That night, we had a small family meeting, during which we talked about what happened. Or rather, my parents asked questions and I answered. But I remained minimal with the truth. Even now that I was basically out to everyone (but my father), I couldn’t bring myself to bare myself, my soul, my trueness to them. The prospect of doing that to myself felt too raw, like a naked man stepping out of the bathroom without his towel for everyone outside to see.

My father suspected something was amiss in my story and kept voicing his doubt. My mother merely looked at me and said, “Why can’t you talk again? Talk to us. You heard your father. There seems to be more to this story.” She seemed to want to get me to make a full confession, her expression one of someone who knows something and knows that you know she knows, but wants you to confess that thing you both know.

I wouldn’t do it – couldn’t do it.

The next day, Wednesday, I had to go to the hospital. During the time I was attacked, those hooligans had been repeatedly punching my face, especially the area around my eyes, so much that my eyes were affected. The sclera for both eyes was not white, but an angry red colour that made any form of light painful to look at. So I’d been wearing sunglasses since I was released from the police custody. I went to the hospital to get my eyes checked and to procure some medication. Thankfully, there was no lasting damage that couldn’t be fixed by some eye drops.

I returned home and eventually gave in to the darkness that had been threatening to overtake me ever since I left Lagos the previous day. There were too many emotions churning inside me: despair over how drastically my life had changed, guilt over what my foolishness had cost my family, fear over what they now see when they look at me, and anxiety over how far I’d fallen from grace.

Because, let me tell you something, before all this happened, I was undisputedly the favorite son of the family. And it just wasn’t because I am the last child. No. I strived to be the best at everything I was a part of – my academics, my responsibilities, everything. I was the child everyone, from my parents to my siblings, loved, because I was quite simply without fault. This made the burden of my sexuality very heavy to bear, but as with everything else I dealt with in my life, I was determined to keep it that way, secret, away from my family. I had accepted myself for who I am, but I’d always believed that I’d rather die than let my family even glimpse at who that person is.

But now, that prerogative had been taken from me, yanked out of my hands, and I was faced with the insecurity of one who used to be so loved but who was now no longer sure how his family felt about him.

And that uncertainty drove me deeper into the clutches of depression. I was going through silent pain, an aching pain, pain I allowed myself to wallow in, as though its brutal bite was what I deserved.

My mother noticed me ghosting away, sinking into the darkness, and she began to get worried. On Thursday morning, she came to talk to me, tried to get me to talk to her. She tentatively broached the topic of my sexuality, tried to make me understand that she would never judge me.

“After all,” she said, “you were what you are all this time, doing all these things all these years, and you were progressing, still being the best at what you do.”

And that – I remember thinking – was the point. I was not only driven to be good at everything I did because I wanted to look good for my family; I strived to be the best because I wanted it to be said, should I one day come out of the closet, that I was able to be great while being gay. I didn’t want anyone to blame any failures I might have on my homosexuality.

It’s because you were wasting your life as a homo, that’s why you’ve never succeeded.

I didn’t want to hear that.

Eventually, my mother said she’d take me to a monastery to see a monk.

“It’s not so they can try to change you with prayers,” she said before I could object. “It’s so you can talk to them in the way you can’t talk to me. Whichever monk we see will basically be a stranger to you, so you can open up to him. And get whatever you’re feeling now out in the open.”

We went to the monastery just before 11, but didn’t get to see a monk until 2pm. They were having their prayers. The man I eventually saw was tall, dark, and had the look of a man who’d seen it all.

Sheltered in his office alone with him, I opened up to him. I told him everything: how I grew up knowing I was different; how contrary to popular belief, I didn’t learn being gay as some sort of bad habit; then about my kito experience in Lagos, and how it had changed everything with my family.

The monk responded without judgment. Aside from maintaining that homosexuality is a sin, he did not try to condemn me or castigate my ‘sin’. He however encouraged me to go more often for confession (I’m Catholic) and try to reconcile myself with God. He said what I was telling him was nothing new to him, nothing he hadn’t heard of before, and encouraged me to try to get past my anxieties and put myself back together.

“Life goes on,” he said.

I went back home with my mother, feeling marginally better. But I still couldn’t leave the house without purpose. The irrational that my secret was open for everyone to see and judge me with kept me in the house and in my room. Plus I was wallowing in the thoughts of all I’d lost with my laptop. All the projects I’d been working on, important files I’d acquired over the years… Starting all over seemed like a daunting prospect. I couldn’t even think of where to begin.

I have a bubbly personality, and so, this contrast in my behaviour worried my mother still. When my immediate older brother visited on Saturday and she confided her worries to him, he told her to get me a new smartphone.

“He’ll get back to his old self once he’s able to start interacting on the social media again,” he said.

That evening, my mother came into my room and said the words that surprised me greatly: “Nna, what kind of phone would you like to buy?”

My brother was right. By the time I was back online, most of my good spirits had started to return. In fact, I was so nearly back to my old self that I reclaimed my position as choir conductor during service on Sunday. As I waved my hand and gestured at the choir, whipping their voices up to the glory of the Lord, I could see my mother’s eyes on me. (She is in the choir too) I could imagine her still trying to reconcile this son who she’d always known, the one who was a choir conductor, with the son she’d just recently discovered, the one who is homosexual.

I am back to Lagos now, putting myself back together and moving on gradually from all that nightmare. I have tried to minimize the guilt I feel by apologizing to my siblings, not for who I am, but for what my mistake cost them. They have forgiven me my indiscretion, but on the subject of my sexuality, everyone’s staying mum on the issue. I was never prepared to come out of the closet, and if it was up to me, I would never come out. But it has happened, and though sometimes, I wish I could dial back the hands of time, I’m learning to deal with my new circumstance one day at a time.

Written by Freeman

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40 Comments

  1. Di-Navy
    March 24, 07:31 Reply

    Awwwwwwww . Family will always be family . They will never desert their own .
    I feel your pain.

      • DI-NAVY
        March 24, 18:51 Reply

        I rather have my family know than the whole world seriously. They will basically know about our orientration but they will secretly pray you don’t wear kito and shame them. That is their only fear.

    • Johnny
      March 24, 07:59 Reply

      I don’t think my family will do. Even at slight things , they threaten to report me at church. My mum wouldn’t be able to take it.

    • Mandy
      March 24, 08:15 Reply

      Family will never desert you? Lol. Arabian Princess will beg to differ. Let’s not place too much faith on blood abeg.

      • Colossus
        March 24, 08:48 Reply

        I think it depends on blood. Some are so sure of their families while others are not. Different families for different folks

  2. Opal
    March 24, 07:38 Reply

    Hi Freeman. I kinda understand what you feel. I was expelled from secondary school and that’s how my mum and siblings found out. It was a scar I lived with for years and I wish it never happened. However, I’ve come to realize that as the monk said… life goes on. So my dear, just remain calm and take it one day at a time.

  3. Simba
    March 24, 07:54 Reply

    Freeman I’ll like to know you. I shall be needing ur advice on the family thing..

  4. Johnny
    March 24, 07:57 Reply

    I couldn’t imagine if this should happen to me, what will I do?
    I felt your pain but it has helped you. Just take life as it comes, they will still love you and the scars will heal.
    This is Cold

  5. Mandy
    March 24, 08:11 Reply

    You truly have a family that loves you. You’ve been given a rare opportunity to be yourself in a family that’s not judging you. Make good use of it.

  6. beejay
    March 24, 08:28 Reply

    Sometimes you don’t plan on facing your demons, sometimes they force you to face them. I can’t even begin to imagine all of that horror… How do you come back from all that? How do you push through it?

  7. y
    March 24, 08:46 Reply

    Freeman thank you for sharing..
    You are a warrior.
    And really the worst is over. No way but up from here on out.

  8. Amon
    March 24, 09:11 Reply

    I appreciate your strength brother and indeed its not an easy road to travel and as odd as it sounds, we are our own worst enemies (refering to jerry).
    We should be strong and stand for each other. Most especially, we should believe in love and trust it enough to build a relationship.

  9. Nuel
    March 24, 09:43 Reply

    hmmmm. I’m glad u back to ur old self…. at least u’ve got an edge over us that is ( the fear of nt being outed) . everything will definitely return to normal just strive to be a better person and this time be wary of those creeping creatures called Jerry* But wait o, who asked him??

  10. Khaleesi
    March 24, 10:30 Reply

    Dear Freeman,
    You have been through a life – changing experience, coming out/being outed is always a deeply changing experience. Some good has however come from the horror, You now know that you are lucky to have a family that loves you unconditionally – trust me, after the initial shock, even your homophobic eldest brother will comes to terms – in the same stroke you have changed the minds of a few homophobes who will start to drop their homophobia each time they remember that their amazing, talented little brother/son is GAY.
    You have also crossed the dreaded line for most gay men – being outed to family; once its done, its done and can never be undone, all that can be done is to move on. So shake off the depression and keep being the amazing achiever you always set out to be; and please what became of Samuel and those other subhuman scoundrels – their fathers should have used condoms, mtchwwww …

  11. KryxxX
    March 24, 10:32 Reply

    “The irrational that my secret was open for everyone to see and judge me with kept me in the house and in my room”.

    This thought.. ….it’s a killer. But that is the only thought that one that goes through such a kito situation always carry about.
    Actually locked up myself in my room in the hostel for 3days without food, seeing that all my roomies had gone for Salah break. And when they came back, I feigned sickness and missed lectures like mad. For one that never misses, that was very hard. Paid and is still paying for it tho.

    As for the people we call “friends” who end up stabbing us in the back e.g Jerry…. ….I wonder if they were ever our friends in the first place. Some ppl just give friendship a bad tag.

    On a brighter side, At least your family knows about you now and are not taking it so badly even if they wont talk about it. That’s a start. Patiently waiting for the day mine would explode. I ga adikwa kpo-kpo!

  12. Recovery
    March 24, 11:03 Reply

    This story could relate to me, except for the fact that I wasn’t beaten up or sorts. My family is really a spiritual one, my mother was once a Catholic Charismatic leader in the zone and all that. Sometime last year, my dad came to Lagos on a mission and asked me this question “Are u gay?” Said he went to church and they gave him a revelation that one of his sons is gay. I was shocked that my answer was I know about it and I have gay friends. He said if u are, please stop it, it’s not good and all the fatherly advice. Some weeks later, my mum sent me a text message asking if I was gay, I gave same answer as I gave my dad. And of course she started preaching to me, telling me about my background and all that. Two weeks later, my elder sister called me to her house to come repair her laptop, not knowing she called me to ask same question. I gave her same answer as I gave my parents but of course she wasn’t buying it. She called my name and said, “Mike u are gay”… and u play the female part. She asked me why and all that, I gave her the I was raped story and I was telling her, tears rolled down her cheeks. I told her I would stop, but before I knew it tears rolled down my cheeks too. She walked out of the room and the house was just very quiet. The next day, my aunt in the UK which they know I would listen to called me and started crying and asked me why didn’t I tell her about all these when she was still in Nigeria. I told her that I would stop and I didn’t want her to look at me somehow. She said, Mike, I love u and I want the best for u. I want you to open up to me, if it’s me to come back and listen to u, I would. To cut the story short, things finally became normal when I told my aunt everything and nobody talks about it no more. Don’t know if I’m out or not. But my aunt knows all and all about me and I am happy with the way things are. ????

  13. Bryce
    March 24, 12:48 Reply

    Nigerian families can practice Daddytee for Africa.
    Whether one comes out to them or not,they always know.They only apprehensively wait for the day something would break and it comes out in the open

  14. Mazi
    March 24, 12:49 Reply

    “And that – I remember thinking – was the point. I was not only driven to be good at everything I did because I wanted to look good for my family; I strived to be the best because I wanted it to be said, should I one day come out of the closet, that I was able to be great while being gay. I didn’t want anyone to blame any failures I might have on my homosexuality.”

    This! ?.
    .
    Too many people are blinded with this notion that homosexuality is unforgivable. And by God, they believe those engaged in such an abominable act would have things going badly for them.
    Such grotesque and fanciful way of reasoning.
    Hey dear, this too shall pass.

  15. Vhar.
    March 24, 13:21 Reply

    Life goes on.

    Be happy, man. Be happy.

  16. Canis VY Majoris
    March 24, 14:42 Reply

    Give it a few years, everything will reset itself. Also, you’ve crossed a line dreaded by most of us, although not by choice, it’ll be for the best, you’d see.

    Just make sure you put more effort into making the best of yourself, even more so now that they know.

    You’d be fine.

    • Freeman
      March 28, 17:50 Reply

      Thank you Canis for this. The spirit is alive already.

  17. Dickson' clement
    March 24, 15:08 Reply

    Expect that one day one of your sibling will call you ‘faggot’ or any other hurtful homosexual slur!
    Just get ready, it may not be today.. or tomorrow..Or next year…Or the one after. Certainly one day it will happen either by inference or in pure undiluted words.

  18. Mitch
    March 24, 15:53 Reply

    Live, brother! This isn’t the end

  19. Ivory Child
    March 24, 20:16 Reply

    I admire your fortitude and resolve, you’re a real victor ???…….. As for that Jerry guy……. May karma bite him in the ass and NEVER let go! ???

  20. INDIGENE
    March 24, 23:06 Reply

    I would suggest you hear from jerry first. You don’t know what transpired between him and your sibling’s. Listen to him and then draw you conclusion’s.

    You did great in the whole situation. You would be fine bro!

  21. .•*Sugaar.•*
    March 24, 23:36 Reply

    Hmmm my thanks is to God you’re alive to face all the good and the bad experiences o…
    they said, experience is tha_______
    When you fill the gap, then go back to Ikotun area and the rest that has been over emphasized here in the house.
    It’s not over yet!
    God bless your family and everything you do from now hence forth…

  22. Houston Scholar
    March 25, 19:53 Reply

    For over two years since I left Nigeria for higher education abroad, I have voraciously consumed all the posts and online altercations on kitoDiaries. This is the first time I will be dropping a comment on this website. Freeman, your story brought back all the untold memories that reside in me. The ephemeral mood of my convivial, halcyon and jocund state, the soliloquy, the disportments, the long nights of insomnia, the doughty period of resilience, the feeling to exhume my lifeless progenitor for catechism, the loud scream in silence, the rejection, betrayal, ostracism and the need to cloak that enigmatic and kinky cachexia in the most furtive part of my bone marrow, the famish period of exorcism and asceticism in the purgatory, the facetious banter with my shadow and my best friend (my books) in the bucolic and pulchritude garden, the goosebumps, the hypochondria, the grin, the dawn of the reality that I have to be my own best friend, the thought of euthanasia and the JOY OF SURVIVAL and the BLISS OF EMBRACING MY INNER-SELF

    Freeman, I wish you all the best in your new odyssey. I could not hold back my tears reading through your story. This story touched the deepest part of my heart. Let me also use this medium to shootouts to Pink Panther (your platform provided me with a virtual family and it has become a great source of antidote for my morbid moments), our two doctors Francis and Simba (your columns taught me those nitty-gritty lessons that are imperative for sexual health and I also think I share your ‘Francis’ sense of paranoia), DM (aside the avuncular role you play on this platform, your column speaks directly to my heart) and lest I forget our stunning IBK, Delle, Mandy, Mitch, Poshe, and others whose comments and quibble kept me glued to this platform. Keep smiling and inspiring the world. Our scrolls of today we eventually be read and appreciated by the generation yet unborn.

    • Pink Panther
      March 26, 00:35 Reply

      Thanks a lot, Houston. We much appreciate whatever roles we play to make Kito Diaries a place you can identify with.

  23. Pjay
    March 26, 01:04 Reply

    I really want to know why Jerry did what he did. Confirmed gay? Seriously? ??

  24. Chizzie
    March 26, 20:10 Reply

    Just read the entire story including the first part and I must say Freeman, really must commend you for having the courage to tell your story. As pageanty as that might sound, it takes courage to relive those memories. I should know cause I have been there and even though mine had a “happy ending” and was not as severe as yours ; Months later and I am still so traumatized to recount what happened. Infact I wish I could never remember it.

    The only thing is, you would’ve vehemently denied you were gay after u were released to your family. I don’t know but, u would’ve been insistent that u weren’t. It’s how I dealt with mine seeing as I was practically outed to my entire family worldwide and on social media.

    Maybe when I’m brave enough I’d tell my story just like u have.

    • Pink Panther
      March 26, 20:17 Reply

      Well he didn’t vehemently deny and his life is still good. Sometimes, it pays to simply own the truth.

  25. FJ
    March 27, 01:51 Reply

    Had a similar experience but not so unlucky. Foolishly led on by a covert gay guy who for reasons am yet to understand, decided to kito me. I got mobbed and handed over to the police right in front of a media house in a broad day light. I was so lucky i wasnt hurled into d front page of the dailies. At d police station i refused to admit to d gay tainted accusations. D investigating officer in charge of my case tried to cajole me into “owning up” seeing dat my side of the story wasn’t adding up. I agreed after so much persuasions. D police guy tried to be friendly, put me in d mildest place in d cell and gave me some preferential treatment like allowing me av access to my phone and all dat). He asked me to confide in him and promised to look for a way to let me off d hook. I eventually agreed on a condition dat i wouldnt write my verbal confession down as statement. So i narrated how myself and d guy dat kitoed me met via a third party and d event dat culminated into turning d table against me. This same story was relayed to d family of d kito guy who had initially vowed to press a charge in court. When it was so obvious dat der own child too might not come out of d case unscathed, they gave in. Dis same officer didn’t divulge d gay story to my family members who came to secure my release at d station all thru their visits , not even d gay accusations. He covered me up from d beginning till my release. Shockingly d only money i parted with was for bail.

  26. HUMAN
    March 29, 15:42 Reply

    so sorry.
    something similar happened to but I wasn’t too unlucky, it didn’t get to police station or anybody knew, I went to visit a guy, after all sha he told me to go n clean up, b4 I came out of d toilet he already locked his door nd left meanwhile my new phone I just bought worthing close to 50k was inside, at first I thought he went to buy something, not until wen I saw my shirt hanged outside b4 I came to my senses that he had stolen my fone. (he stay in a house that uses general toilet).
    so I had small phone with me, then I called him with the number in it, at first I didn’t know what to say cos I don’t want him to know that is me, then I started forming a lie that his friend said I should give him a phone, that he should come to bus stop(d one of where he stays), he later came with 2 guys, when I saw him I put d phone on silent. I confronted him, he was forming hard guy nd I didn’t want to shout in other not to cos two problems (I noticed he had already dumped d phone somewhere). then he said if I want my phone that I should follow him that he had given it to d BOYS that they are watching the porn on it, I said I have password on it, he said they are using USB cord to watch it.
    so I followed him, he nd one of his friends took one bike, d other one left, so I also took a bike and followed them. they were at the front while I followed, there was a little traffic @ a round about so he had highlighted @ another street b4 his living d other guy on bike, after we made our way out of the traffic I only saw that other guy, I paid the bikeman off sha, so it was left with only me n his friend, I begged his friend to tell me where he went he said he don’t know, so I told his friend that he should help me check d house maybe my phone his there cos he had d key ( tho I know a theif can’t be so daft to leave the phone, but I just told him to check) the phone wasn’t there.
    I begged that he should call him nd beg on my behalf, then he started threatening me will BOYS that they will beat me up, the guy I call his friend later opened up to me that he his brother, that he knows him that’s how he behave that he won’t give me d phone, I had leave.
    on getting home I lied to my parents that phone was hijacked cos there’s this habit of hijacking in Lagos. I became traumatized cos I barely used d phone for 2months.
    it’s was later someone told he had been stealing from people

  27. Thanos
    April 01, 01:04 Reply

    Of course everyone wants to relate to this story. Thank you Freeman for sharing your story. There’s so much pain it. From the ambush to the cunning nature of the police then Jerry outing you like that without your consent and then the depression. I’m happy you’ve decided to move on with life, that’s what matters. Strive to be better.

    My parents knew for a while and decided to let me know In 2015, my siblings have always known. One is Donald trump about it and the other is quite Obama about it.

    Please, take @Dickson’ Clement’s advice, one of your siblings will someday say something hurtful, trust. Also, y’all should try to be realistic with whatever advice you give so that someone doesn’t make a serious mistake he or she will regret someday.

  28. aAYaAH
    April 07, 11:34 Reply

    Wow. Nice.
    It’s hard to find love these days from anywhere at all.

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