May 5

So I was at Lagos a couple of weekends ago, to deliver a painting and to watch the private screening of Hell Or High Water. I got to hang out with a couple who are also my friends. In fact, one of them is someone I look up to.

They met through Yours Truly. I had been friends with the one I look up to (let’s call him Jide) for a while. And he’d been smitten by this other person (Mike) for a while, and I managed to make the introductions. I knew they liked each other but I didn’t know how much until I hung out with them.

I delivered my painting to Mike, and we talked as he drove us to meet Jide so we’d have dinner together. The conversation inevitably swung to Jide, and I was observing Mike as he spoke about his boo. There was this smile playing at the corner of his mouth and his eyes looked bright and he kept gushing and everything. I had to look away because it looked like something private involuntarily shown.

Mike has always been a lot of a bitch, but with Jide, he became a playful cat, smiling and all of that crap. My heart clenched and unclenched when Jide took his hand in his and kissed it. It seemed so pure and genuine. Everything. They seemed quite sure of themselves.

And I want that. No… Not the hand-kissing thing. I want that sure-of-themselves thing. Knowing what they have and being very sure of it. Lately, I haven’t been sure of myself let alone me and someone else lately. I think I’ve said it before; sometimes the fear of getting your heart broken can be as crippling as the fear of breaking another person’s.

But someone seems to have been able to take most of that insecurity away as I found myself doing some of the things I thought I wouldn’t be able to do. It’s not perfect. So many things are left unsaid between us because saying them will make things real and make letting go harder when it needs to be done. And it will need to be done. I dread that day, but every moment spent with him makes all whatever bleeding I’ll suffer later easier to bear.

As for Mike and Jide, I wish y’all the very best. I’m glad I contributed to making the world a lil bit happier. And thanks Mike for liking my painting. I’ll replay the memory of you and Jide gushing over it after you tore out the wrapper whenever I feel incompetent or can’t see the things people see in me.

Ah yes – my queen Khaleesi, much love to you too. And remember, food is not the enemy.

*

After watching Hell Or High Water, I headed home in the company of Pinky and some new friends, who were also a couple, and what followed was a contrast of what I witnessed with Jide and Mike. I was a bit flummoxed. These two – theirs appeared to be an open relationship but the dynamics seemed off.

Basically each of them was allowed to have sexual relations outside the relationship, but with while one wanted to know about the other’s sexcapades, the other didn’t want to know about his partner’s.

I couldn’t however help but notice that the heart of the former wasn’t very into the arrangement. It was probably a case of just getting what you can get because you care deeply for the other person. It made me appreciate more how awesome it is to find someone who makes things easy.

There’s this small conundrum when it comes to love. I’d love to love unconditionally, but what happens when the subject of your affection doesn’t make it easy for you to love him/her? What if there are glaring disparities but a part of your brain decides that it doesn’t care? Does it mean you are weak? God, I hate being weak. I hate feeling weak.

I have tried the “Love conquers all” approach, but I’m sorry to say that it rarely ever does – at least not for us puny humans driven by hormones and selfishness and past experiences.

And yet, at the same time, there’s the feeling of needing to try. Whatever is worth having is worth fighting for, right? But even some things worth having shouldn’t be fought for because things get messy in fights and what was once whole and beautiful becomes a bloody mess. You become a bloody mess. Some things need to be let go of. You sometimes have to let go of people.

*sigh* So many contradictions… One argument can be countered with another. It’s no wonder we fight a lot. I just want balance. I want to have that yin-and-yang thing, you know. The right amount of vulnerability and strength. The right amount of self confidence and meekness.

*

Somebody had a friend of his – female friend of his – read my journal, and he told me she said my depression shows through. I laughed at that but it left a bit of a nagging worry. Do I sound like I’m chronically depressed?

Probably.

Most likely.

Yes.

But it’s not my fault. When I’m happy, I sing. When I’m sad, I write. When I’m in between the two, I have sex (which is art on its own). Painting, poetry and all other activities come when I feel creative.

And for a while, I had a creativity drought brought on by the scorching heat of fear. Fear that what I’d try to do would turn out into something I don’t like or just a repetitive something. In this day and age with the Internet, it’s rather difficult to appreciate people who are in a particular field and can do what they are doing well. Take Owl City for example.

Many people complained that he sounds the same in most if his songs (something I think they exaggerate; there’s more than one way to cook rice). He decided to branch out, and I must say I’m not entirely pleased with what he’s done.

Some people are lucky that whatever they touch turns to gold. Here, I mention Taylor Swift, but I’m pretty sure she’s got a whole team of professionals who helped make that 1989 album what it is. Meanwhile Owl City works alone mostly…

But I digress.

What was I talking about sef… Ah yes.

I don’t see anything wrong with being good in a particular field and staying there. There’s nothing wrong with comfort zones. You could expand it, remodel it and whatever.

People tell me sometimes that I need to do this or that or improve on this or that, and my first instinct is to recoil. How do I explain this without sounding like a lazy ass? I don’t like being told I HAVE TO improve. I know it already, but hearing it annoys me. I’m not sure why. I think it often stems from criticisms that go something like this:

“This was bad (*lists a hundred things*) but overall you tried, but still, you need to improve.”

It’s like, Dafuq! You think I don’t know that? You think that I think that I have arrived? Please stop pointing out the obvious.

I however end up getting better, but at my own pace. Telling me how I need to do my shii is telling me how to be creative, and as an artist, I value my style of creativity too much to appreciate you telling me in such bland terms that it’s not good enough. And I don’t work well when I feel pressured. Getting good at something takes time and it’s easy to forget that it takes time when you feel pressure to be good at it just because you’re already sort of good at it. You tend to forget that it took time for you to be able to finally hit that note or strike that cord and stuff.

I’ve noticed such criticisms tend to come from people who have little or no skill in doing what I do. Someone who is in your tribe (metaphorically speaking) knows the amount of pain and sweat it takes to be where you are and they tend to be gentler with criticism and give it constructively.

*

I had a discussion with a friend (let’s call him Ben) who was disgruntled with another person I consider a friend (let’s call this one Ayo). Ben was annoyed with Ayo and criticized him because he’d discovered an aspect of Ayo’s life that he thought Ayo was deliberately keeping secret and which was also contrary to Ben’s ideals as regards activism.

Ayo had always tried to maintain neutral grounds considering that aspect, saying that each should follow his own path. And it’s quite easy to imagine someone who is on neutral grounds to be mostly on your side, a mistake I believe Ben made about Ayo. But I must admit that Ayo never really did say where he stood on that particular issue. I acknowledge that it’s not really anyone’s business, but it however gives a lot more credibility when stands are made and positions clearly stated, ensuring that no presumptions are made.

I however have a problem with Ben because he was going on and son with righteous anger, talking about the omission in what he saw as a crucial aspect to Ayo’s life. I think his judgment is rather hypocritical because like it or not, many of us – activists that we are – are guilty of such things too.

We stand up to fight for gay rights in the office, but when the question comes on about whether we are gay or not, we either outrightly deny or give vague noncommittal answers; or the brave ones would simply say “Well, what do you think?” leaving enough room for doubt over who they truly are.

I know my instance and the issues between my friends aren’t entirely similar, but they both boil down to the fact that both guys were being economical with the truth. They are hiding under the veil of silence so that if things go either way, they can say, “I never said anything so your assumptions are your fault.” And with that, does Ben really have the right to judge Ayo?

The problem with the argument I posed above is that it seems like I am saying nobody should say anything when wrong is being done since we all do wrong things. I don’t think so. The point of the argument is that keeping it in mind that we are all guilty of something will help make correcting our people with kinder hearts. And trust me, the situation with Ben and Ayo would have gone over much better if Ben hadn’t flown into a fury. Other people played their parts of course, with some taking of sides and stuff, but basically, things got out of hand, and though the drama was fun to watch (low key tea sipper that I am, hello Deola), I feel things could have ended better.

And it’d help to know that the way I can help fight for LGBT rights isn’t the way another person can. What should count above all else is that we are doing something. I still strongly believe we need to support each other and play our parts. The place you see another person failing, you stand your ground and show the younger LGBT that there’s more than one way to live their lives in this country. Show them that they get to choose and that it’s possible to stand firm in their choice and not falter.

Peace out, peeps.

Written by James

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