Every now and then, I hear gut-wrenching stories of people who run into trouble simply because they were trying to hook up with someone they met online, probably for a quick shag or some connection. I am not one to shame or blame victims of horrible situations; however, I need all of us to understand that as gay men, we are alone in Nigeria. If you get into trouble, the police will not be on your side, the law will not be on your side, and your fellow citizens will certainly not be on your side. Therefore you have to use your head at all times and ensure you stay safe and do not get into any mess.
This message is especially important for the young ones amongst us. Please read and feel free to add anything you think I missed in the comments section:
1. When you are IMing with someone on some hookup app like Grindr or the likes, always ask for a phone number before deciding to meet. If they decline to give you their phone number, I recommend that you do not meet the person.
2. In the course of the conversation, do not give away too many specific details about yourself. Do not get carried away by dick pictures and go reeling out all your information from house address to BVN number. You can engage, but try not to be very specific about details until you have met them and assessed them.
3. Thank God for technology along with caller ID apps such as true caller. Take the number that you have and search till you get a name. Honestly, if it doesn’t match the name the person gave you, something may be up with him and I recommend that you be a little cautious.
4. If you get a name, run off to social media and see what comes up. Look him up on Instagram and Facebook. Most importantly, look out for mutual connections, and if you don’t find any mutual friends, I recommend that you don’t meet him. There is a chance of course that he doesn’t have any gay friends; however, in my experience, people like that went out of their way to avoid gay people. They could therefore be conflicted about their sexuality and can be dangerous. If you cannot find one mutual connection, I recommend that you don’t meet him. There could be trouble and it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
5. If you find a mutual connection and it happens to be someone you know personally, I recommend that you ask about the person. It’s always better to be safe than sorry; get a feel about the guy from your friend and be sure that it is okay to meet him. Typically, in my circle, I am the area father (lol) and it is me that my friends send photos of Port Harcourt men to ask if I know them, and if I don’t know them, I always recommend that they be cautious or not meet the guy. Due to years of oppression, gay men more easily stick together and befriend themselves. It is a human instinct. So if you find the one that isolates himself, something could be going on there and it may not be good.
6. Always meet a guy in a public place – a mall, restaurant, beach etc. Never go to his house or hotel before you get to know him personally. This may not end well for you. Meet him in a public place and take your time to observe for telltale signs of trouble; for example if he shows up with a friend whom he did not mention he would be coming along.
7. I recommend that you have at least one trusted friend who knows your plans as you head out to meet the new person. This is especially important for people who even leave their city to another city to meet up with a guy; give your friend all the guy’s details (including photos), so in the event of any issues, your friend can raise alarm. When I was younger, upon getting to the venue of our meeting, I would call my friend and say I have arrived. I basically did this so the guy will know that someone is in the know of our hookup.
8. In the event that you go to his house or hotel afterwards, please be vigilant. The most significant red flag is when there are other people present whom he neglected to mention. This is a common denominator is most of the kito stories. Be smart, vigilant and generally sensitive to your environment.
9. Please always carry your condoms and lube. Don’t listen to that silly narrative that only guys who identify as tops should provide protection and/or lube. You are in charge of your own health and body. Please, for your safety and peace of mind, always carry your own protection. Never assume that your host will have one, so that in the heat of the moment, your judgment is not clouded and you decide to bareback.
10. Finally and most importantly, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! If something doesn’t feel right, it is most likely not going to end well and I always believe that it is better to trust your instincts and they were wrong than vice versa.
Take care of yourselves guys and see you next week.