I was going through some grindr profiles as I usually do when I get bored, when a profile caught my attention. The profile had the picture of someone I knew, not personally though. The guy is someone whose Facebook profile I’ve come across and gone through a number of times, even though I’ve never sent him a friend request. This isn’t because I mind being his friend. It’s because with a look at his Facebook profile, one can immediately tell that he is gay. This is due to the sort of pictures he uploads. Now, I have nothing against people who upload raunchy pictures on the social network; my misgivings about this guy however stemmed from the fact that he is young and his pictures are too revealing, some of them of the fact that he’d just had sex, most of them of him with other males in not-so-subtly compromising positions.

Anyway, because of this, I just could not add him on Facebook because I know I have some people, friends and family, who snoop on my Facebook profile, as though waiting for me to do or say something. I remember some years ago, when I had numerous gay friends on Facebook, there was this male friend of my younger sister, who I’d gotten close to because I had a thing for him. And one day, he asked me if I was gay, because (according to him) I had too many gay friends on Facebook. I laughed off his supposition. He however persisted later in telling me to be careful. So, I had to whittle my (gay) friend list to a negligible number of those who do not post ‘funny’ pictures.

Anyway, back to my story, when I saw this guy (let’s call him Rick) on grindr, the thing that struck me was the kind of picture he’d uploaded as his profile picture. He had on just a pair of white undies, and nothing else, and his entire body, including his face, was in full reveal. I wasn’t entirely surprised by this, because I was already used to his provocative pictures on Facebook. But I still had a problem with him putting up this kind of picture on a gay app.

I sent him a message and we got chatting. I was starting to like the person I was chatting with. Then I asked him if the picture was his, and he answered in the negative. That meant the person I’d being chatting with wasn’t the Rick on the picture. I asked why he used the picture, and he said the guy was his friend. I told him that I knew Rick, and he begged me not to tell him. I acquiesced because it wasn’t my business. Subsequently, I asked this guy for his pin and we moved over to BBM. When I asked for his picture and he sent it, the person I saw had very discouraging looks, so I deleted him.

Some days later, again on grindr, I spotted a very close online friend, Joshua. We haven’t met because we’re in different cities, but we’ve being friends for some time. Anyway, I was quite surprised to see him on grindr; not only that, I was surprised to see that he’d uploaded his picture. Now, I know he is not the first or only grindr user to upload his personal picture there, but the ones I have seen are edited so much as to make it quite hard for any casual observer to tell the actual identities of the persons in them. But the kind of photo Joshua uploaded was extremely clear; it was a portrait photo, one that looked like a passport.

I decided to send him a message, and the first thing I wrote was, ‘So, you are also here.’

And he was like, ‘How do you mean?’

I replied with, ‘It’s me na.’ My personal picture was also up on my profile, and even though it wasn’t as clear as his, I expected him to recognise me.

He didn’t, and that soon became obvious to me with his responses. I thought perhaps he either genuinely didn’t recognise me or he was simply playing at it. I decided to play along, and chatted on with him as though we never knew ourselves.

After some days, I got bored with the ‘game’ and called him up to tell him it was me who’d being chatting with him on grindr. Joshua’s response startled me; he’d never even heard of grindr before. I thought he was joking, so I sent him a screenshot of his grindr picture and some of our chats there. He expressed surprise, and said he’d only used that photo on whatsapp and that he had just four gay contacts on whatsapp. He asked me to keep on chatting with whoever the grindr person was, in order to get his name and contact. It took me weeks because the guy did not trust me, but after much playing at me loving him and wanting to date him, he eased up on his cageyness and gave me his number.

I promptly handed the number over to Joshua, who confirmed that it belonged to someone he knew, who he was acquaintances with. (Let’s call him Judas). Now, Joshua told me Judas had a steady boyfriend and that they lived together as a couple. Apparently, Joshua had hooked up with Judas’ boyfriend, without knowing he was dating someone. When he found out, he broke off the casual intimacy he had with the guy. They however remained friends, and this boyfriend subsequently introduced Joshua to his guy, Judas. And Judas began asking Joshua out. (I know, two slutty guys dating each other; makes you think of their relationship as a joke) Joshua of course refused his overtures. And the more he refused, the more Judas pestered him for a hookup.

Anyway, now armed with his knowledge of Judas’s shenanigans with his photo, Joshua confronted him. Of course, Judas initially denied the allegation, and then after sometime, he relented and ‘blamed the devil’. (This devil sef, he has suffered) And as though he suspected I was the one who exposed him to Joshua, Judas blocked me on grindr. Or perhaps, he simply deleted Joshua’s picture from the gay app. Either way, I stopped seeing his profile there.

Joshua also the issue to Judas’s boyfriend, who said he was going to talk to him. We all thought everything was okay, until Joshua told me that a friend of his told him that he’d being chatting with him on his second 2go account. Joshua claimed he has just one 2go account, and his friend said he’d being chatting with someone who had his picture on this new 2go account. And that the reason he brought it up with him was because he was startled when he (this second 2go account user) started soliciting money from him. Apparently, the guy had asked for money and credit.

Joshua quickly became both confused and outraged by this chain of events. He couldn’t tell why Judas was using his pictures and identity, or if it was even Judas doing this on 2go. And if it was, he couldn’t tell why the guy was so obsessed with him, and if he was doing all this to punish him for rejecting his sexual advances. Last I checked, he was planning to travel to Asaba to confront the Judas face-to-face on the issue. Joshua’s grouse is that someone he knows might get to find out about him, and he could be identified as a gay guy.

I can also remember a case that happened on Facebook last year, when a gay atheist began soliciting funds from his Facebook contacts, citing assistance for different issues, one of which that he was running an orphanage. Now, this guy was obviously a scammer, but that was not my problem. My problem stemmed from the fact that he used the picture on his profile of someone I was positive wasn’t him. And perhaps, this someone had no idea his photo was being used as a face of a scam. If the owner of the picture were to be seen in public by someone who’d being scammed by this gay atheist, they’d assume that he was the one that asked for the money, and that could result in grave consequences for him.

It is one thing to be gay, and it is another to be a criminal, being guilty of identity theft. If you want to use anyone’s picture but yours on a gay site, why not use the photo of a popular face, like a musician or a model, someone people would know instantly isn’t you. And if you must use an ordinary person’s picture, you should at least crop out his face, so as not to endanger the individual.

Nigeria is a very dangerous place, and there is no gay site you won’t meet homophobic guys.

Sometimes, I wonder why anyone would use someone else’s picture on his profile to get acquainted with people they hope to eventually meet. Do they not wonder how deceitful potential hookups would find them to be if they discovered that the picture they’d being peddling online was not truly them when they meet? Or are people not as concerned about this issue of contrary identities as I am? Do you get acquainted with one face online, and then meet another face in real life and still go on being friends or bed partners with this obviously deceitful human being?

It is quite annoying, I must say. These episodes have made me realize that sometimes, there’s no knowing what has been going on behind our backs or who has been using our pictures to commit fraud. There are some strangers you see who would either get confrontational or strangely familiar with you on the road, and you’d be confused and bewildered as to the familiarity. Who knows… Perhaps, your identity is out there making money or gaining undue attention for someone else.

We are fighting for acceptance and recognition in this country and the world at large. Yet, there are some people out there who are busy sullying the persona of gay people. It is wrong. It is despicable. And the people guilty of this, if you are reading this, you should STOP!

Written by Sinnex

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