The news making the rounds at home is that concerning my older brother’s upcoming nuptials to some pretty young lady. It feels strange honestly but I’m happy for him. In the conventional Nigerian sense, he’s becoming a man, and the thought of possibly being an uncle is exciting to me.
Ah! The conventional life expectancy of a Nigerian (straight) man though: be a good boy at home, get good grades, get a girlfriend, graduate from school, get a job, get married, have kids, keep climbing the financial ladder, raise your kids, grow old, be satisfied with the fact that you’ve lived a good life and die when the time is right. How easy this seems to me as an outsider – a gay man. The template is so easily laid down, the guidelines are right there.
But those guidelines were put in place for the heterosexual male. And so I worry: what about guys like me, the queer ones, where are our guidelines, our templates?
What do I tell my peers when they ask about my girlfriend or invite me into conversations about female conquests? How do I express myself, my true self, the self that loves men like me? How do I express my femininity in the midst of all the hyper masculinity? How do I react when all my (straight) male friends start settling down, taking their trips to wedlock while I stand on the sidelines watching? Heck, even my friend, the effeminate Dominic, who was once heavily rumored to be homosexual, has now settled down!
How do I face society at forty with no wife or kids and possibly still going through bed sheets, and sliding into social media DMs all in the search of Mr. Right? How do I react to family when the questions and pressure start building up?
What’s a Nigerian gay man to do?
Where’s our template?
Not all of us are cut out for a lavish lifestyle with an interest in traveling the world as a means of escape. Some of us are quite content with settling down with the love of our life and becoming a lecturer in some average government institution. But how to live such an ordinary life, whilst gay and unattached to a woman is the problem. The natural optimist in me wakes me up every day to the mantra: Your case will be different. You will make it work somehow.
But there’s a struggle within to believe in this optimism in the harsh light of mounting reality.
A friend of mine recently said to me, “Gurl, wake up before I pour water on you! There’s no happily ever after for a gay man in Nigeria, especially not for he who wants to stay true to himself.” As one who wasn’t born to conform and who hates to bend to the will of the way things are done, I resent this claim.
And even as I struggle for answers, this is what I believe: that as gay men, I dare say, our lives and existence are unique and of great significance. There’s a reason that there is no template for us; we are to make our own rules in this deeply contrasting society. Nature has given us a chance to decorate our lives as we please. We’re the innovators. The news of my brother’s wedding has given me a sense of urgency, an urgency to grab life by the balls and decorate it as beautifully as I want without any templates.
So when those questions come crawling through my mind, I grab onto the belief that for each period that arises, I will embrace it with my own uniqueness. I will get that good job. I will have those beautiful children. I will own that wonderful home. And I will climb the ladder of opportunities.
I will be satisfied with my life and I will grow old and die happy – all on my own terms. So even though society has provided no template for someone like me, I will make mine as I go.
Written by Quinn