Following the Orlando shooting, every time I went online, my heart broke just a bit. The shock of the massacre rocked me to my core, caused a welling of grief inside me that I hadn’t felt since the wave of attacks that took hold of Abuja following the signage of the antigay law. I got notified of the tragedy through a friend’s BBM pm. When I asked him what he had updated about, he asked me to tune in to CNN. I wasn’t home so I couldn’t do so until I got home that night, and I was broken by what I saw. I have known victimhood, so I could imagine the terror those who’d been hiding in the club’s bathroom had felt, their panicked thoughts, knowing that whether they lived or died depended on an idiot with a gun. I could not imagine the agony of getting shot and feeling your life slip away, but I could imagine the trauma the survivors would have to live with.
The tragedy gave me a sense of helplessness, one which made me ask, as I have often asked no one in particular, who mankind is to judge others based on anything, least of all, his/her sexuality.
I wondered about life before the rainbow. I remember growing up, feeling weird and suicidal, thoughts I shook off with a struggle every time they plagued me. The struggle that seemed to define every step of my life, whether living a lie, trying to act more masculine, trying not to stare too much at the neighbour’s oldest husky son – struggle as I lived and breathed. I remember ardently praying and wishing it all away. Knowing that I grew with it made me inordinately angry with those who blithely dismissed homosexuality as something, a habit, you acquire, not something you’re born with. It made me contemptuous of those who claimed they became gay through conversion, because I felt like they were scoffing at me, letting me know they could just as easily ease back into the mainstream heterosexual side of the traffic.
Life before the rainbow was a struggle.
I remember in primary school, no one really wanting to befriend me, but and some pretending just so they could copy my assignments and work in the exam hall. In my junior secondary school days, a particular seat mate would call me Gay Lussac to the mocking hilarity of our classmates, and at the end of the day, he would come home with me to give me head. I remember when a particular biology teacher was lecturing us on how feminine traits in males were not a chromosomal defect, and some of the idiots in my class would call my name amidst bursts of stifled laughter at intervals during the class.
Life before the rainbow was not an easy journey.
I was afflicted by a deep sense of low self esteem. The only shine I got in my being was when the grades were announced and I knew I could raise my head high in that aspect. I was consistently at the top of the class. And then came the university, and the same boys and the same unfriendliness and the same fake attempts at befriending me for the sole purpose of what they could get from me during exams. But I knew better and I served what I got. Besides, the environment was larger and I now had more of my kind to relate to. Friendships such as these gave me confidence.
I wonder at life beyond the rainbow, if we’ll ever get there, to that place where who or what I do in the privacy of my room would not matter so much. And that was why this tragedy shook me up so much, because I realized how far away the world still is from getting to that place beyond the rainbow. When at work, the issue came up for discussion, hate burned fierce. They deserved what they got. They sinned against God.
Feeling beset by sudden resentment, I turned on my seat to the pastor who had erected his altar beside me and snapped: “Do you not fornicate?”
He stared at me, his mouth opening and closing without any response. The surprise on his face was mirrored on most of the faces of my other co-workers, and I knew why this was so. It wasn’t because of what I’d said; it was because I’d even said it. I’d never been part of the regular office talk on controversial issues like this. Guilt? Perhaps an overwhelming sense of self-consciousness? I do not know. But that day, I sought a challenge from the sudden lovers of God.
It’s different –
How is it different?
The bible condemns homosexuality –
And I suppose it approves of you sleeping with your girlfriend, yes?
My pastor says it’s a sin –
When next your pastor says that, ask him that since he hears from God, he should ask Him His opinion on the Orlando shooting.
There were no more retorts. I dared them to fight back, I hungered to unleash my darkness. But they gave me no satisfaction as their silence turned wary and cold. And so, I returned to my work.
If only these people knew… If only they knew the battles that we fight within us… If only the world would stop taking it for granted about us being who we are… Maybe then we’d begin to get to that place beyond the rainbow.
But perhaps, we cannot get there in life. Perhaps, only with death shall the journey to that beautiful place be attained. Perhaps those lovely men and women who were gunned down by an envoy from hell are there now, glorying in the beauty of the place. In which case, I have nothing but a fond farewell to bid you, victims no more, as you revel in that place, somewhere beyond the rainbow.
Written by Mirage