FROM WITHIN, INSIDE THE CLOSET

FROM WITHIN, INSIDE THE CLOSET

The greatest challenge for us, LGBT folks fighting for our rights, in Invisibility. It is not like being black or female where you are seen, where you have always been seen. Because we are not easily “recognizable”, we hide, and our oppressors want to keep it that way.

“Be low-key,” they say. Or they say, “Leave. Travel abroad.”

They don’t only want to keep us out of sight, they want us gone, annihilated. And because we are not readily identifiable, and because we have to survive, we hide. The closet is a bitch. It perpetuates the second wave of deletion of our voices.

Because we inhabit spaces charged with immediate danger and violence, we speak of ourselves in the third person. “Gay people deserve to be free,” we say. Gay people! Women today are saying, “We will not take it anymore.” We! Me! African Americans are saying, “You are killing US and WE will not take it anymore. OUR lives matter.” They are looking their demons in the eyes and fighting them off.

But us gay people in Nigeria – we fight by proxy. It isn’t our fault, but that doesn’t make it any less sad.

Because we refer to ourselves in the third person, we relinquish our position as the drivers of our conversation. We are unable to name our experiences and so our words are leveled in the public space of opinions. How do we challenge ostensibly well-meaning trash if we cannot say, “Hey, this is my experience, my story, so fucking listen to me”? Those who have historically hurt us, whose kin continue to hurt us – they snatch the podium at our rallies and shout our stories. They are our kin too, and their support is important, but when they say the wrong things, as they almost always do, we sadly cannot take the mic and say, “Listen!” Because all opinions are equal if you’ve not lived the life.

Because we are invisible, we relinquish our power to forgive.

We are told by people who do not feel the heat that the sun-bearer has cooled down and has been forgiven; after all, nobody is perfect, people grow, change – which is true.

Except it isn’t in their place to forgive! It is our forgiveness, to be dished out as we see fit, when we see fit, after weighing the tops and the bottoms and the middle-grounds, because only us understand these things.

But we are not seen, so.

The closet is so dark, so airless, I cannot wait to break out. Soon!

Written by Rapum

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4 Comments

  1. Malik
    May 08, 11:36 Reply

    Nice article. Maybe this is a good time to ask this question: Any plans for gay pride month?

  2. Omiete
    May 08, 21:12 Reply

    This is so relatable!!!! I was listening to the radio once and the broadcaster was saying she hasn’t seen a gay person who wasn’t abused as a child. I felt like calling and shouting ‘ I wasn’t Abused!!!!!’

  3. Dunder
    May 08, 22:04 Reply

    I think I get where you are coming from but for me, I am not too bothered about allies-the honest supporters and the opportunistic crusader alike. PFLAG played a big role in the victories won by the LGBT communities in the west and I doubt they said the right things at the right time all the time. There are members of this community that have done and said things so heavy you shudder to think of what they’d do if they had GEJ’s former office or Abati’s pen and fat lips.

    The closet is not just a personal construct. It’s parietal layer is plastered and painted by a bloodthirsty and blind mob that in most cases, include our own blood relatives, neighbors, colleagues and close friends. Are they a good enough reason to lose your livelihood, relative security, privacy or even life? How many of the sympathetic outlets have interviewed or engaged gay people with the basic respect accorded the most debased politician or highly placed pedophile? Are people who have sentenced you to die by quick violence or the slow death of dehumanization worthy of knowing you on a deeper level? Have they earned your forgiveness if you feel inclined to give it?

    From where I am mentally, I’d rather build my life and pursue my dreams on my own terms rather than fall into their well laid trap where you are appealing to the humanity that most in our country simply do not possess. I am not keen on being that token gay friend or that person being asked by an e-reporter about what part of gay sex I enjoy. I am not yet wealthy or connected enough to be exempted from Nigeria’s legal code and her people’s animalistic tendencies. Those like us in those pockets of influence are also uninterested in doing anything for those coming behind save the “thanks or coming” doled out after a booty call.

    I am sorry this jeremiad is even bleaker and even longer than your post but I think the best approach to this situation is to focus on the variables within your control and build a self resilient enough to swim in society’s troubled waters. Don’t lay your life, dreams and desires on the altar of a mob whose only evidence will be your own proclamation- David Kato and a host of others have been forced to pay it forward. Transform your closet to a fortified castle so that you can engage on your own terms. That way you are more than an issue turning opportunists into heroes and frustrated and indoctrinated sheeple into active murderers. Even those on our side as a matter of justice and equity will thank you. If opportunists and cape hunters are all we’ve got on the outside, there is a saying that even the evil child has his day (to be useful).

    On a lighter note, we already have the trickles- in families, amongst friends and colleagues, in our e-communities, in the diaspora. Slowly, the class war within the community that heralds the defiance of external suffocation by a people we have helped, harbored and healed is coming. For the West, it was the AIDs crisis that had all LGBT of all classes have to find a way to work together or die alone and unsung. For us, it would be the access to healthcare, “corrective” rape, religion, kito from within and outside and being treated far less than the crooks ravaging the country in spite of our achievements- multiple little battles that would eventually add up. It may not happen at all levels at the same time but for those educated and living in certain places, things would get easier. We are already telling our stories and networking with each other and winning minds in our social circles. Don’t be found wanting when the war becomes winnable.

    • NaijaTgal
      May 12, 12:17 Reply

      I love your response!
      You and the author of this post took the words right out of my mind.
      The fight shouldn’t be a reckless one and i agree with being real with our sad predicament in Nigeria. We must understand the tactics of our enemies and play them to our advantage and for the IH mutants amongst us…that last sentence by Dunder was for you!

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