Happy New Year, guys. I hope 2017 met you all in good health.

Life has been even crazier. It’s been a month and twenty one days, and I couldn’t be happier. My Marv is proving to be everything I’ve ever wanted. The longer we’ve been together, the more I feel us growing strong roots.

I also feel like I have a full family life that, two years ago, I never could have thought possible. I can gather with the gang, me and Marv being the only gay couple in their midst, and still be a seamless part of them, every bit accepted and loved and supported. I couldn’t be happier. It’s amazing being with a man who shares my love for stilettos, lol. He’s practically my twinnie.

So something happened at the beginning of the month that brought more joy to my heart. I remember when I first outed myself to Obianuju, she didn’t say a word to me for months and months. Then she called me up right before the New Year to offer me a job with her agency. There were perks attached to the job; plus I get to work from home and only come into the office once in a while. So what the hell! I put aside my doubts and I took it. Our conversations were very professional; no intimations to the close friendship we’d shared for nearly a year. There was nothing left there…

Or so I thought.

We had a small orientation for the 2017 recruits at the beginning of the year and I was to handle most of the talk. I stood before them in the small dimly lit studio, filling them in and answering as much of their questions as I could, trying as much as I could to make them feel at home. Obianuju sat at the very back, consulting with the photographer and taking notes, her face expressionless.

Then after a small spell of laughter that followed a light joke I made, one of the recruits, a svelte dark-skinned beauty, raised her hand and I nodded at her.

“I’ve heard we get to meet a lot of gay people in the business,” she began.

My smile became careful.

“Yes, you will,” I replied.

“I’ve always wanted to know some gay people. I’ve never really met any,” she said with the awe of a three year old anticipating cotton candy for the first time.

I smiled a warm smile at her while throwing a quick glance at Obianuju; her head was down and she didn’t see my look.

Then I nodded at another questioner, a tall tearfully-handsome young man at the end of the room, probably five years older than me.

“Isn’t it part of the agency’s job to ensure we are protected from these perverts as much as possible?” he asked.

My smile turned to stone. “Excuse me, I don’t follow,” I said, my voice coming out flinty.

“Homosexuals, I mean,” he said. “They’re littered in our industry. It’s proper we avoid working with them as much as possible to avoid turning into what they’ve become.”

I bit back a sharp retort for the sake of professionalism, but before I could even answer his question, Obianuju rose and walked across the small studio to stand beside me. Every staccato sound her shoes made as the heels hit the ground sounded formidable.

And then staring into the small gathering, her crisp voice came up: “Any form of homophobia will not be tolerated here. If you suffer from the chronic illness passed up as homophobia, you’re welcome to leave before your contracts are signed.” Her expressionless eyes bored into the recruits, one to the other.

I was shocked. I knew how much had been invested in these new recruits already. I knew the loss she stood to suffer if they left. And yet, here she was, back straight, arms akimbo, as she challenged them with her eyes.

The young man with the question stood with a defiant look and left, muttering stupidly.

Another recruit, a young girl, raised her hand. “So we can’t avoid working with them at all –”

“Leave.” Obianuju’s voice was low but lethal. “Now!”

The girl stood and left.

“Anyone else?” she asked.

They all shook their heads as two others stood and left.

“I’m pretty cool with it all,” a dark-skinned boy said with a shrug, and the remaining ones nodded. There were mutters of “I have no issues” and “we’re completely okay”.

Obianuju nodded and gestured at me. “Kainene, carry on.”

I found my head on time and carried on with addressing them, still slightly shaken by the actions of the friend I’d thought was homophobic. In that moment, I felt this intense affection for her. I chanced a glance at her and I could have sworn that was a wink she threw my way. Then she smiled, a tiny knowing smile. And I smiled back. I knew I must have looked mad in that moment but who cares…

Written by Kainene

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