THE STRUGGLE WITH THE “NO” YOU SAY TO MARRIAGE

THE STRUGGLE WITH THE “NO” YOU SAY TO MARRIAGE

There is nothing like a wedding in the family to remind elderly relatives of the unmarried status of the younger ones in the family. There is nothing like the impending nuptials of a relative to make a parent remember that their marriageable child is still single.

And my father, it would seem, is no exception.

As previously told, my father surprised me very much when he received the news of my homosexuality without any of the rancour that I thought I would get from him. But in the months that have passed since then, I’ve come to realize that the foundation of his acceptance of my sexual orientation is not as firm as I would have liked it to be.

Like the time when I traveled home sometime last year, and he sat me down to talk to me about how he feels I might be bisexual instead of homosexual. He was of course trying to make a case for why it could still be possible for me to get married to a woman. After my initial surprise that he’d apparently done enough reading to broaden his knowledge on the subject of sexuality, enough to bring this up, I had to let him know in no uncertain terms that I am in fact VERY HOMOSEXUAL.

And then, there was the time when he called to tell me that two women, family friends of ours, had come to see him and had enquired about me. And he hadn’t known what to say when they asked him why I wasn’t married. To that, I said tersely, “The next time someone asks you about my marital status and you don’t know what to say to them, give them my number and tell them to call me and ask me.”

Both of my parents would want nothing more than for me to be wed to a woman. But whereas my mother wants this because she sees it as an ultimate validation of her belief that I’m really just a heterosexual man who’s been led astray by her enemies, my father wants this because it doesn’t make sense to him that any adult male would not want to settle down into a family with a wife.

The thing they both however have in common regarding this issue is their consciousness of the public perception of my choices. What people will think. What people will say.

It was very evident during one of the fights I had with my mother, and she spat at me, “All my brothers got married in their twenties, and none of them humiliated my mother by staying single. It won’t be different for me. My sons will all marry wives.” To which I retorted, “News flash, mom – I am not your brothers.”

And it was also evident when my father recently called me and we proceeded to have one of those conversations no one likes to have with their parents.

My cousin was getting married, and his wedding was days away. It was going to happen in Lagos, and most members of my family were coming in from all over to be in attendance. My father was not going to be there, but he would routinely call me for updates on the wedding or to inform me on who was traveling from the East for it or to tell me which relatives to look out for and which to seek out and greet.

A couple of days before the wedding, I was on the phone with him and we were just chatting about this and that and (of course) the wedding – when he suddenly said, “In time, God will do this for you too, in Jesus’ name.”

I didn’t respond. I simply waited for him to say something else.

But he reiterated, “I say, God will make it possible for you to have your own wedding, in Jesus’ name.”

I didn’t think he meant a wedding to a man, so again, I maintained a deliberate silence.

“Won’t you say amen?” he queried.

“Say amen to what exactly?” I returned. “A prayer for God to do something for me that I don’t want?”

“My son, don’t talk like that,” he began.

“How else am I supposed to talk?” I asked. “Wouldn’t it be more productive for you and God if you said prayers on my behalf regarding things I actually want? Like success and blessings for me and my siblings that’ll enable us take better care of you? How can I not want a wife and you’ll keep asking God to give one to me and you expect me to say amen?”

He waited a beat, and then said quietly, “So you just want people to know?”

That question was like a douse of cold water. It was a revelation of what must be one of my father’s ultimate fears: the horror of it becoming known by all who know him that his son is gay. It made clear to me that he may have accepted me, but the only way he was going to be alright with this was if I kept my life a secret.

I was saddened by this. I know how important the right image is for a lot of people. But at what cost do we demand for this to be so? How did my parents think it was okay to place their consciousness of public perception over my happiness? Did they truly not understand the gravity of the mistake inherent in me choosing to spend the rest of my life with someone I will never love or care enough about – or was that, to them, an acceptable sacrifice on the altar of what people will say?

“I don’t want people to know, daddy, because I don’t care what people know,” I said. “This is my life, and you’re asking me to make a decision about it based on the opinions of these people I don’t even care about.”

“You should care,” he snapped.

“Why?” I retorted. “Are any of them feeding me? Are any of them investing anything in my life? Are any of them contributing anything to the life I’m living? How are you just going to tell me to bargain what I want with what people expect of me? What sort of life is that?”

At this, my father finally played his trump card. “You may talk about this being what you want, but just know that your decision on this matter is killing me and your mother.”

I sat there for several seconds, quietly digesting the audacity of this man to pull this stunt called emotional manipulation. I almost couldn’t believe it. My father is an aging man who suffers through his fair share of infirmities associated with age. How dare he try to pull this on me?

My sadness iced over into cold rage as I began in a quiet tone, “Let me be clear about something, daddy. This is my life we are talking about, and on this particular issue, I have absolutely no regret. I am very happy with my decision to not get married to a woman and to be very proud of my existence as a gay man. You need to hear me: I am very okay with all of that. Now, I love you very much, but if you choose to turn my decision on this matter into a reason why you won’t sleep well at night or why you get sick or why you will die before you should, then that is on you. I will not accept the guilt. I will be just fine. Are you hearing me? I will be just fine. So, of all the things ailing you, mind and body, for your own good, you need to take away this issue because it’s not worth it. I am not losing sleep over it and neither should you.”

There were several moments of silence before he said in a somewhat weary tone, “I just wish things were different.”

My quiet anger diffused out of me just as quickly as it possessed me, leaving behind the initial sadness. I was equally weary as I said, “I know you do. And once upon a time, I wished the same thing. But I don’t anymore.” Feeling suddenly earnest to make him understand, I said, “Daddy, does the fact that I’ve been so opposed to this for a long time not tell you anything about how much I don’t want it? And what a disaster it will be if I go ahead and give you what you want? I know you pray for and want my happiness, but does this being part of my happiness not mean anything to you?”

He stayed quiet for an interminable amount of time before saying, “So, as one of your cousin’s groomsmen, I hope your brother is helping him with the assistance he needs to prepare for his wedding?”

He had changed the topic.

What did this mean?

That I’d given him a lot to think about? Or that he wouldn’t even be bothered to think about what I said? That he was silently seeing my point? Or that he had ceded this round to fight again another day?

I would never know. Not now anyway.

Instead I sighed heavily within me and went into a conversation with him about what my brother was doing as part of his groomsman duties for the upcoming nuptials.

Written by Pink Panther

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13 Comments

  1. Mitch
    February 04, 08:20 Reply

    “…I know how important the right image is for a lot of people. But at what cost do we demand for this to be so?…”

    THIS!!!
    This is the part parents never think about. They presume to know what’s best for, presume that you’re a child who can’t think for yourself, who doesn’t know what he wants or what life is about. And, based on that idiotic notion, they proceed to pay untoward pressure on thir kids to buckle to the nonsense that is ‘the family’s reputation’.

    See, don’t go thinking that because he changed the topic, this matter is done with. You didn’t give him any food for thought he doesn’t already know. All he’s waiting for is another day to hit at you, hoping that by so doing, he’d chip away at this resolve of yours and make you do ‘the right thing’s.

    It’s like my mom and the Andrew Van de Kamp thing that happened over Christmas. You think it has ended? Oti oh! Madam is gearing up for another attack.

    Just, stay ready.
    And keep clinging to your truth.
    And come to our sidebar!
    We have gist!😂😂😂

  2. Ken
    February 04, 08:32 Reply

    You are lucky to have reasonable parents who actually want u to be happy. Just like it wasn’t easy for u at first, u can’t expect them to suddenly understand.

    More so, know that ur decision is not just about u. They will also share in the hurt society will throw at u. Your parents are mostly afraid of the unknown- what with our hyper religious and hypocritic society. This is the eternal burden of every parent.

    So just give it time and quit flaring up when they seem unreasonable. At the end, family is all that matters and parents won’t live forever. Find ways to make them happy while u can.

    • Mitch
      February 04, 08:47 Reply

      This, right here, is one piece of advice LGBT people should avoid.
      Because what you’re presenting is a slippery slope all the way to self-sacrifice for the happiness of your parents.

      You shouldn’t do anything for anyone unless that thing you’re doing also makes you happy!

    • Mikey😘
      February 04, 09:04 Reply

      What are you even saying, quit flaring up?

    • Gaia
      February 05, 20:24 Reply

      Make them happy and when they’re gone you regret your decisions and be sad all your life. I mean your own life???

  3. Black Dynasty
    February 04, 14:47 Reply

    It’s good that he’s actually willing to listen, but i doubt it’s over.

    Deep down most people know the truth but the ability to unlearn what you’ve been told is too much of an obstacle to accept the truth. I suspect this is what some parents go through with varying levels of adaptability. It’s not a choice they made but they will be affected regardless.

    I hope he comes around fully, but it looks like it will be a while.

  4. Fred
    February 04, 19:32 Reply

    This tussle could be very exhausting.
    That public perception has driven a lot into the wrong life experiences. It took far more than courage for Kenny Brandmuse (Kehinde Bademosi) to make a U-turn after years of taking a wrong turn in his life.
    Pinky, you’ve got to just LIVE and let them (your family) deal with this development their own way.

  5. Rudy
    February 04, 23:08 Reply

    Your Dad has laid down his weapons and succumbed to defeat today however he will rise again with thunderous arsenal the next time he sees an opening for a discussion towards you being married to a woman.
    In time, just hope he softens his rhetoric concerning this. Men who tend to do more listening than talking in time take the stance of omission and oblivion on issues concerning people they care about(I’d rather accept that than being bombarded with a tirade of rhetorical questions).
    But all in all let’s hope daddy dearest continue to read more and care less of what people think of his beloved son.
    And please Pinky, Why does it always have to be the relatives with unmarried status that always fan the flames of marriage projections???

  6. Jules
    February 05, 10:41 Reply

    Almost teared up. Please stay true to your happiness. Wouldn’t be wise to just get married and eventually not care about the lady. I’d advice you to relocate. The pressure seems too much.

  7. Larry
    February 06, 08:24 Reply

    The first time my mum got to know about me she said” how can you decide to choose such painful life, the world mostly Nigeria is not fare to such people. How can I watch you go through such life.” She knows truth but can’t just let herself to accept it. Sometimes our heart finds it very hard to accept what our mind already know. I know mum loves me and what the best for me… But I never choose this… Is never my chioce…

  8. Larry
    February 06, 08:32 Reply

    I know they really what the best for us… But what about what we want, what about what makes us happy or hurt us. Mum said” I know you love men but sometimes in life you just need to forget what you love and do the most important things in life”. Is what I love not supposed to be the most important??? The whole thing is just tireing.

  9. Houston Scholar
    February 06, 23:04 Reply

    This is one of the heartfelt articles I read on this website. Thank you for penning this article. I could not hold back the tears reading the dialogism between you and your father. On my part, I have been psychologically preparing my mother for this episodic conversation. She can foretell that I am preparing to break a major news to her. I see the fears on her face but I am gradually educating her and taking her on a journey.

    No doubt, our happiness is paramount and it should NEVER be exchanged for a life of FACADE. Nonetheless, I am of the opinion that it is important for us to take our parents on a journey. We need to educate them from a piecemeal approach rather than just walking up to them and dropping the bombshell. A friend of mine in Chicago traveled to Nigeria last Summer. He summoned the family to a gathering and broke the news to them. His mother, a deaconess, fainted and since then she has been battling with a fragile health. My friend was insensitive. He watched too many Hollywood movies of “coming out” and decided to act the movies in real life.

    My happiness is non-negotiable but the happiness of my mother is equally important to me. Ever since my father died at the age of 8, she raised my siblings and I as a single mother. Today, the academic opportunities and educational privileges I acquire both home and abroad would never have been possible without her sacrifice.

    It is important for us to help our parents to understand our experiential journey as individuals with same-sex attraction. We should help them to cope with their journey of coming to terms with the fact that the child they nurtured will not tow the path they have been dreaming about. We should guide them with answers on how they can manage the self-imposed societal and family expectations. We should let them know they their sons are not alone.

    One of the books I am currently using to educate my family is titled “Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids” written by Meghan Daum.

    All in all, no matter how busy I find myself, I don’t skip a day without reading Kito Diaries. Although I might have a contrasting opinion to some articles on this website, Kito Diaries will always remain my virtual safe haven.

  10. Francis
    February 08, 15:52 Reply

    My sadness iced over into cold rage as I began in a quiet tone, “Let me be clear about something, daddy. This is my life we are talking about, and on this particular issue, I have absolutely no regret. I am very happy with my decision to not get married to a woman and to be very proud of my existence as a gay man. You need to hear me: I am very okay with all of that. Now, I love you very much, but if you choose to turn my decision on this matter into a reason why you won’t sleep well at night or why you get sick or why you will die before you should, then that is on you. I will not accept the guilt. I will be just fine. Are you hearing me? I will be just fine. So, of all the things ailing you, mind and body, for your own good, you need to take away this issue because it’s not worth it. I am not losing sleep over it and neither should you.”

    This has actually played out in my head before. 🤣🤣🤣🤣 If you want to die, coman die. No be me kii you. Na you carry matter on top ya head.

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