This past couple of weeks has been very horrible. Just horrible.
When a message popped up on my Grindr app asking users to hit the message to know how they could help Orlando, I didn’t think much of it till I came back from church and turned on the TV.
I braced myself.
First were the remarks made by my mother, who just came in from church: “Ndi ala, let them be killing themselves.”
I shot her the meanest look I could muster and started to say something. But my dad beat me to it: “That is not the point. About 50 people died.”
This caused her to retrace her steps a little. “I know, but what were they doing at a gay club in the first place?”
I wasn’t going to deal with this nonsense, and so I pulled on my headphones, stayed away from every social media platform and listened to music for the rest of the day.
Monday came and it was work. As expected, an openly bisexual female colleague didn’t come in and the internet was having a field day. There were the comments from Nigerians and other homophobic folks exalting the shooting; one said he would have given the shooter a firm handshake, and another, supposedly a pastor, said Omar Mateen didn’t kill enough. I was raging in my head. To cope, I took on more assignments and projects at work just to keep myself busy and drown the pain weighing down my mind.
I tried so hard to stay away from the news but it was immensely difficult, especially with my parents around. My mum was having a field day and really showing how deeply homophobic she is, an attitude I expected more from my dad. One notable comment was on the issue of the refusal to let gay men donate blood. She remarked, “Let them not allow them oh! Don’t they know life is in the blood? They may transfer their gay spirit to people that are not gay.” And when pictures of crying parents, friends and family that lost their kids started to come in slides on the TV screen, she said, “You people sef, carry your burden for supporting them.”
It was constant hate, even at work. When the bisexual colleague returned with a massive colorful tattoo on her shin to remember the victims, two male colleagues waited till she was out of earshot and one started, “I should go get my ‘straight tattoo’ since these folks always want to put all this in our faces.” And the other replied, “Yeah! Why do they always try to force their ideologies in our faces! It really annoys me.” Then the first proposed a “straight pride”, since gay people are allowed to have theirs.
Upon hearing this, I cut in. “And for what cause? What would be the essence of a straight parade?” I got no reply.
Instead, the buffoon carried on with, “I should create the straight flag, like the gay flag, but with the stripes facing upwards.” This got the other fellow laughing, his hilarity ending with him saying they should end the discussion because they didn’t know who was listening and could report them. The other guy tried to act like he didn’t care, but he heeded his friend’s advice and stopped with his homophobic caper.
As I observed them, I wished I spoke out more, but I try to stay out of any discussion in the workplace that relates to religion, ideologies or sexuality. If someone gets offended, it could be out of the door with you. I also wished the bisexual colleague heard them; they really would have lost their job. She has been known to speak out when ignorance or hate is exposed around her. I will speak more about her soon, Diary. You will like her, and I am sure Max will too.
This sad event revealed how far this fight for the recognition of the LGBT is from being won. There is still so much left to do, and now, I know to put 911 on speed dial for the day I will come out, you know, for that moment when my mum will pass out from the shock.
While I was making this entry, Dear Diary, my phone buzzed with a message on Facebook. It was Ikenna (not real name), who had just returned from the UK to Nigeria.
Abeg, give me your BBM pin, was the message.
I replied with the pin and proceeded to accept his request. We briefly exchanged pleasantries and then, he typed: Nigeria is seriously fucked up! I just recently renewed my visa. I can’t wait to leave.
My initial thought was that his grievance was spurred from the current economic situation. It wasn’t so. It in fact stemmed from a hookup gone wrong. Apparently, he’d hooked up with a guy, and after the fun, he gave the guy N2000 out of goodwill and for transport. Following this, all hell broke loose! “Wetin be this?” the guy screamed at him. He didn’t stop screaming, threatening to carry on until his family comes in to investigate if Ikenna doesn’t produce N10, 000. Ikenna was so startled by the guy’s loud antagonism, and proceeded to give him part of the money he’d intended to renew his visa with.
He went on to say that unlike the UK, where hooking up was for fun, in Nigeria, it was a business venture. “I will never forget this,” he said. He was determined to somehow make the fool pay.
At that point, I concluded within me that I may not hook up with anyone if I come back home. Even if I want to, it would be with someone I’d hooked up with before I left. I made this decision known to a couple of friends and one said, “You don dey form now.” Another said, “Hmmm, you don dey see Naija guys as dirty, shey?”
It is simply none of these reasons. I’m just more invested in my self-preservation.
Ikenna’s narrative also made me remember situations when a gay guy dies in Nigeria and his Facebook wall becomes Tea-ville; you know, the place where endless tea is spilled on the life of the deceased: how he sold market from Lagos to Abuja, and forcefully demanded money, or fucked with an Alhaji, and how his sickness and death was as a ‘repercussion’ of a market transaction gone wrong.
Like seriously, Diary, WTF!
Written by Duke