IT IS WHO WE ARE

IT IS WHO WE ARE

I had just finished secondary school at the time and my mum gifted me with an internet-enabled phone. I was thoroughly excited by this gift, as it was my first phone ever. And of course, I promptly began spending lots of time on it, exploring the internet and downloading loads of stuff.

Then I found Facebook. I had always enjoyed meeting people, so I was very much interested in the social network. Before I knew it, I had made lots of friends and I was somewhat popular on the social media. As a queer person, when I got on Facebook, I wanted to meet more people like me. I was sixteen and having the best time of my life online.

Then I met a girl. Her name was Jody-Anne. I can still remember the first time I saw her picture pop up on my timeline when a friend of mine liked her post. Petite and beautiful, just the way I liked my girls then, and with the most beautiful and innocent smile ever. I’m not the type to just rush into people’s DMs, so I gave it time. I sent her a friend request and after she accepted, I was frequent on her timeline. I’d like her posts and always leave comments, always full of compliments on her photos.

Finally, when I couldn’t take my silent crushing any longer, I went into her DM, and after I said hi, her response to me was: “I was beginning to wonder how long it would take before you messaged me.”

I wasn’t expecting that, and her directness had me in awe. We pretty much hit it off from there. We talked a lot about a lot of things; one of my favourite things is communication and finding someone that loved talking to me every time as much as I did her was amazing. She told me all about herself. She was 21 and had just finished college, currently working. She was Nigerian but had been in Canada all her life.

It was inevitable that I would fall for her. And I fell hard. I would stay up late at night just so I could get her at a good time for us to talk on the phone. Sometimes I’d ask for WhatsApp voice notes, and it would take a while but she would send them. The same lovely, honeyed voice every time. There was no WhatsApp video call feature at that time. Our conversations had become very sexual at this point, and it was obvious that we were into each other.

It got so that the day she asked for my nudes, I only experienced a moment of skepticism. I was not an adventurous teenager and I’d never taken any such risqué photos before. Sensing my hesitation, she encouraged me by sending me nude photos of herself. Luscious, cocoa-skinned curves. Very appealing to my eyes. Good lord! I was motivated. I took some pictures and sent to her.

After I did this, I felt this wave of apprehension hit me, the discomfort of one who isn’t used to doing wild things like that. But I tried to get past it and focus on this beautiful thing I shared with Jody-Anne. On her own part, it would seem she had gotten so into me that she would PicMix photos of the two of us together, with cute writeups, and post on Facebook. Nothing overtly sexual, just enough cuteness to make people believe we were besties. And I would see these posts and get so gooey inside.

I was so in love with this virtual person called Jody-Anne, so much so that I came out to a cousin because I wanted to tell him about Jody-Anne. We were officially an item at this point. There were lots of girls that it would seem from their activity on her timeline liked her, and she would always tell me about who and who were chyking her. Some girls would send her nudes and she’d show the messages to me, and we would laugh over how thirsty they were. A time came when I wanted to work a bit before post UTME, and I told her. She objected to the idea, saying she wouldn’t have her babe stressing herself like that, that if it was money I needed, she would send that to me. And she did. At the end of every month, she’d send some money to me.

I felt loved. I was having a good time. We had relationship issues of course. It wasn’t easy dating someone that far away. But we tried not to let too much time pass with us staying mad at each other. I remember one particular issue we had. I was supposed to travel to Benin for my post UTME exams, as well as meet with a friend. The plan was for me to stay the night at the girl’s place. But Jody-Anne didn’t like it. I’d told her about the girl, about how the girl liked me, and Jody-Anne was acting like a jealous lover, saying she didn’t want me staying with the girl. I really had no other alternative of where to stay in Benin, but I lied to her, assuring her that I wouldn’t stay the night at my friend’s place.

Of course, I did. I however do not know how Jody-Anne got to know this, but she did. And she was very upset with me. I remember that fight very well, because it was the last fight we had before everything unraveled and all hell broke loose. Nothing I said could soothe her anger, and she said good night to me without us resolving that issue.

The fact that this happened should have been a foreboding of what was to come. Because I went to bed on Nigerian time and awakened to meet a social media catastrophe.

The news was spreading fast that Jody-Anne was a catfish!

Apparently, someone had uncovered this “truth” and was scandalizing Facebook with the news.

I didn’t believe it of course! I mean, would you? A lot of Facebook friends were messaging me, those who had gotten to know from her posts that we were close, telling me about it. I asked a few how they knew this. They drew my attention to a post where someone called her out, a post where she tagged the actual owner of the pictures Jody-Anne had been posing with.

She – this woman that I’d come to regard as my woman – was both a catfish and an identity thief!

It felt surreal, like some movie to me. I wasn’t having it. I went to our chat and saw that she was online. I typed to her: “It’s a lie, yea? What they’re saying about you is all a lie? And you’re very real and you’re the same person as the girl in those pictures you sent to me, right?”

Her response to me were two words: ‘’I’m sorry.’’

I remember going numb for several minutes. I didn’t know how to act or feel. I went offline and set my phone aside, trying to understand how my perfect little world had gone so upside down.

But the worst was yet to come. As I quickly found out an hour later.

My phone started buzzing about an hour later. A friend called me to come online at once.

I did, going straight to Jody-Anne’s timeline as directed, to see an apology post from her. In the post, she said she was sorry. That she had cancer and had a few months to live and had wanted to do something fun.

Her contrition didn’t last long. She soon made another post, one that expressed her annoyance at all the insults and curses she said she was getting. And because of that, she said she was going to post the nudes she had with her.

This was when my world truly began to go upside down. I sent frantic messages to her, begging her to not drag me into this mess. Reminding her about how good we had been together. Telling her about how I didn’t deserve whatever humiliation she was preparing to visit on us – on me.

But Jody-Anne was no longer the darling Nigerian-Canadian who didn’t want me working because of the stress and said sweet things to me during our phone calls. She was a bitch who didn’t care who she’d hurt or drag to shame because of the scandal of her lies.

She posted the nudes, and mine were among them. My face. My body. My trusting face. My naked body. I was scandalized. My nudes were everywhere, getting shared and re-shared. Trolls were in my inbox, hurling verbal abuse at me. The men among them were either being lecherous perverts or self-righteous pricks. The women were no better. My Facebook friends took cover, some of them making posts or posting comments that publicly denied any association with me.

I was weak, very weak. I felt like the end of the world should come in that moment and wipe everything and everybody out. The photos were making the rounds everywhere in Facebook, in groups too. Till today, I still can’t thank enough whatever powers-that-be that prevented my family from getting wind of this. I was thoroughly stigmatised. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t talk to anyone. I was finally able to log out of Facebook, and then broke down and cried. I cried very hard. I couldn’t believe that someone I’d shared seven months of my life with was not just a catfish, but a callous unfeeling human being. I didn’t even know who the real Jody-Anne was. I couldn’t process all the ways everything had gotten so out of control. I had questions (I still have questions), but after a wretched few days, I decided to brave on. And I focused on maintaining a lot of distance between me and the scandal.

When it was time for me to go to the university, I fled to far away Benin Republic, because I always feared I’d meet someone who’d seen my nudes. For the longest time, I was scared a family member would come across the photos. I couldn’t talk about this to anyone for the longest time. I was really traumatized. Always jumpy and scared. I started having trust issues. For someone who enjoyed meeting people, I started having difficulty making friends. I couldn’t let anyone in. I was emotionally scarred. For the longest time, I bore the shame of being so publicly violated. I didn’t have any relationships for a few years after that, because I struggled with trusting anyone and my heart never knew what to believe.

However, in all of this, I never once questioned my sexuality. It is usual for situations like this to make a queer person internalize the hurt and begin to question how different things would be were he/she straight. I didn’t go through such turmoil of self-doubt, and I didn’t get destructive. It’s been six years since then, and I’m still happily gay. I hurt, I learnt, I healed and I grew. It took me almost four years after the scandal before I could totally open up to another girl.

I share this with the hope that someone will read this and learn more about security. With the hope that one will understand that no matter what, they are never to give up on themselves and on love.

If you have to change who you are because of circumstance or because the wrath of society, then perhaps that wasn’t who you were to begin with. Circumstances may wound you, scar you, but it is important that you use every adversity to find something more positive about yourself and continue to stay true to who you are.

XOXO

RW

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32 Comments

  1. Net
    January 22, 09:59 Reply

    Thanks for your bravery in sharing this story

    • R.W
      January 22, 10:04 Reply

      Thanks for reading too Net!!

  2. R.W
    January 22, 10:02 Reply

    Thank you pink panther, finally!!! I thought you forgot me!

  3. iAmNotAPerv
    January 22, 10:03 Reply

    A terrifying thing. To be outed with your nudes shared. I’m glad you were able to hold yourself together.

    It’s always nice to see pieces from female writers, especially new ones.

    • R.W
      January 22, 10:07 Reply

      ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  4. Setta
    January 22, 10:04 Reply

    I went through this too… I understand and I’m glad you got past it💜

    • R.W
      January 22, 20:22 Reply

      Thanks Setta and I hope you got past it too❤️❤️

  5. Kross
    January 22, 10:17 Reply

    Takes a lot to share this

    Awesome

  6. Tee
    January 22, 10:27 Reply

    You are so brave ❤❤❤

  7. Mandy
    January 22, 11:08 Reply

    I can’t even imagine how traumatized you’d have been, to be so cruelly betrayed. I hope Jodyanne truly has cancer and I hope she has died a very painful death.
    And I’m glad for you, RW, to be still secure in your sexuality after this happened. You’re right. Some gay guys would’ve taken this sort of mess as a sign that they were cursed with homosexuality.
    Keep your stories coming, RW. It’s always nice to read lesbian stories around here.

    • R.W
      January 22, 11:54 Reply

      Thank you so much Mandy 💚

    • Higwe
      January 24, 00:42 Reply

      This is cruel!
      What she did was absolutely horrible but you’re no better yourself.

      Have you ever considered the state of her mind ; if she truly had cancer.
      Having people curse, abuse you and say all sorts.
      She was a cat fish (which is wrong ) but is that the worst crime on earth?

      The writer herself is no better ( sorry to say this)
      They used to share the nudes or others and laugh about it… that is technically violation on a smaller scale… but she had absolutely no problems with that, because she was not the one being violated then.

      And when Jody Anne got busted for being a cat fish, what did the writer do?
      She logged off like a coward and allowed the lady who sent her money almost every month to get crucified.

      Yes, she was hurt, but this proofs she was more in love with the projected image of Jody Anne than the actual person she was communicating with.

      Did you ever stop to think that Jody might have felt betrayed? – this doesn’t justify her actions – but just for a second try to understand her too .

      At the end of the day no one deserves what the writer went through at such a young age too and I’m glad she bounced back from it.

      Though experience has taught me to always look at both sides of a story conspicuously.
      Even villains have their reasons.

      • Francis
        January 24, 08:24 Reply

        Hmmmm, this angle make sense sha

  8. Delle
    January 22, 11:16 Reply

    Your positivity is enchanting. Thanks dear 💞💞💞

    • R.W
      January 22, 11:55 Reply

      Hahah😃. You’re welcome and thank you too!

  9. Charlie
    January 22, 11:24 Reply

    Thank you for sharing this. I can’t imagine how you must have felt. Two of the worst things happening simultaneously. I’m glad you came out the other side and hopefully stronger and wiser too.

    • R.W
      January 22, 20:25 Reply

      Thanks Charlie ❤️❤️. Lol I’m obviously wiser now

  10. Action
    January 22, 11:48 Reply

    Am happy you pulled through, your past didn’t define you. Thanks for sharing it will help

  11. BRYAN PETERS
    January 22, 12:49 Reply

    Wow. What you went through was indeed terrible and very cruel. I applaud your bravery for making the decision to share this and your thoughtfulness at making a move to teach others to be more security conscious. Kudos on holding your head high and forging ahead. Wishing you the very best.

  12. mikkiyfab
    January 22, 19:24 Reply

    Wow RW u are strong… I admire and pick up strength from you
    Thank u so much for sharing this

  13. Kess
    January 22, 22:23 Reply

    I can’t tell even imagine how traumatic this must have been.. So sorry about your experience and much accolades to sticking to your true self
    For me.. I ones dated someone for 3 years who suddenly told me I was cursed and stuck simply coz I tried to hold on to what we shared when she suddenly felt we were a sin..The pain is out of this world.. Talkless having my nudes out there..
    Keep doing you, dear

  14. Anne
    January 23, 20:14 Reply

    This was beautifully written..Please don’t stop writing ..we need to hear from more queer women ..I’m glad you came out strong 💪🏼💪🏼..keep it up hun

  15. Bussy
    January 23, 20:43 Reply

    Here I was thinking twas only gay men who came across such traumatic experience .
    kudos for staying strong after the experience, so many women I know wouldn’t have made it through, worst they would’ve committed suicide or deny their sexuality but here you are full of rainbowy life ☺😉.
    😘💏💜
    Lez bro by the way, can we be friends beyond this diary, bikonu 🙏

  16. J
    January 23, 22:42 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece and I am so sorry about your sad experience. We’re very strong!

  17. DBS
    January 23, 23:48 Reply

    Glad you came out strong

  18. Listless
    January 29, 13:42 Reply

    You’re really brave for enduring and overcoming this…

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