TOO GAY TO BE STRAIGHT

TOO GAY TO BE STRAIGHT

Every now and then, I get friends who, when they visit me, ask: “Do your neighbours know about you?”

And for awhile, my response was always: “I don’t know. I can’t say for certain what they know or don’t know. I don’t go about with a homosexual name tag on, but I suppose the things they expect which I’m not doing should make them wonder.”

I live in a compound where every resident is young and upwardly mobile. All the men either have wives, live-in girlfriends or overnight lays. I’m the only male who doesn’t have a female strolling out of his house at 7am in the morning with a hairnet on her head and a yawn on her face. Plus my female visitors are few and far in between, especially when compared to the throng of male visitors I get. And so, because I believe I don’t live amongst stupid people, I know there’d be varying degrees of speculation. Especially when a female neighbour accosted me one evening and jocularly asked, “When we go see your wife na?”

I returned her a swift smile and replied, “There’s none for now.”

Whether my neighbours wondered about my life or not didn’t bother me.

What I was however not prepared for was to be the object of any one’s desire – the object of any female neighbour’s desire, especially when that female is unabashed and slightly aggressive in her pursuit of me.

It started with that question: “When we go see your wife na?”

And my TMI response just had to be: “There’s none for now.”

I couldn’t have said ‘Soon’ or ‘In the nearest future’. No. I just had to give the answer that labeled me available and potentially gettable.

It started with the unannounced drop-ins to come and borrow a book (it couldn’t be salt or pepper, because I don’t cook), or to ask my advice on an innocuous problem. Then it graduated to the abrupt requests for us to take selfies together (usually, she’d pounce when I’m on my way out, with her phone handy). Then there were those ‘offhand’ remarks about how I liked to move about the premises wearing very brief boxers, and ‘don’t I know the effect those fair legs of mine are having on the girls in this compound.’ There were the requests to come eat her food since I don’t cook, and the frequent calls that started with ‘I just want to know how you’re doing…’

And at every juncture, what I have is always an aloof smile and quiet reserve, subtleties that I always hoped would be enough for her to get the hint and move on.

One Saturday afternoon, I came home with a couple of friends, who moved on ahead of me after she accosted me just at the entrance of the compound. My friends observed the thinly-veiled impatience that was on my countenance during my interaction with my neighbour, and teased me about it when we were eventually ensconced inside. One of them began giving me the whole spiel about how this was my opportunity to get a girlfriend and fast-track my journey into societal validation by getting married.

“There’s no better wife a gay man can ask for than a woman desperate to latch onto a man,” he’d said tongue-in-cheek.

And again, I patiently told him that the only person I’d ever want to spend the rest of my life with would be the MAN I love. There are absolutely no wives in the future for me, especially if such a marital arrangement is to be conceived where she gets to stay in the dark about my sexuality.

The other friend is a card-carrying member of the ‘Burn MGMs At The Stake’ club, and was just about ready to fly off into a diatribe about how much he endorsed my decision, when I pulled him back to earth with the assertion that my decision has nothing to do with any moral compass. I have no desire to wed a woman, not because I think it’s deceitful to take on a wife who doesn’t have full disclosure about me, but because I do not have what it takes to live the life of a dedicated husband with homosexual proclivities. I do not know the art of that sort of compartmentalization. I do not know how to come home and switch off the gay man – the man who ogled male specimen all day, who probably browsed through Badoo or Grindr, who may have dropped in to see his male lover – that man, only to turn on the doting family man – the man who knows he must now be guarded with his phone, who must make sure to first wash off all the man sex from his body in a bath before joining his family for dinner, who must look at his wife and see her, instead of seeing Ben’s nipples where her breasts are, or John’s penis where her crotch is located, or Chidi’s lean muscles where her soft curves are.

I love the male form. I simply love men too much to focus on being with a woman.

This is the truth I started telling myself in my second year in the university, the year I started reconciling myself with the unpopular decision of never standing at the head of the aisle to wait for a bride.

The first time I met Esther, I was thunderstruck. That was in my first year, the first day of lectures. I was seated at the back of the lecture hall that was crowded with students from two departments who’d be receiving most of their classes together. I had a seat saved for a friend. Then I turned and saw her, and it was a Hollywood moment.

She looked lost, like she wasn’t sure she belonged in that crowded room. That vulnerability was the first thing I found irresistible about her. And the pull was so strong that when she turned her doe-eyed gaze to me and asked, with a gesture at the bag-occupied seat beside me, “Is this seat taken?” I immediately said, “No.” I lifted my bag from the seat and patted it and said, “You can have it.”

She sat beside me, and all of a sudden, my world was lit up with bright colours and fresh blooms. That was the beginning of our friendship.

All through those platonic times, I never made any bones about my attraction for Esther. I’d never felt like that for any female before (maybe a mild crush in secondary school), and because this was the period I was struggling with my sexuality, I saw my attraction to Esther as the sign that I was meant to be heterosexual. I saw it as an avenue to become ‘normal’. I latched on to my feelings for Esther, clutched them to my heart and never let go. I told myself that all those trysts I had in secondary school must have been the early onset exuberance of a curious teenager. I was seventeen, yes, but I was now maturing into my heterosexuality, I told myself. All I needed was an Esther in my life.

I hounded her with my affections. I wrote poetry about her and read them to her. I came to our classes very early so I could be sure to get seats for Esther and I. I stayed glued to her side all through our lectures. I walked with her back to her hostel after school, even though it meant I had to sometimes endure the grating chatter of her accompanying girlfriends. I was steadfast. And she found my attention adorable, because, well, I was adorable.

So adorable, in fact, that when her boyfriend (yes, she was dating a more senior student who moved in dangerous circles) accosted me one evening in my hostel and verified my identity by calling my name, he looked me up and down, chuckled and said, “I just say make I know who you be.” There was such dismissiveness in the way he said the words, like he didn’t think I was competition.

But I was competition. Nice guys do get the girl after all. By our second year, Esther had dumped him and encouraged me to ask her out. I did, and we were officially an item.

But you see, by our second year, I was also sort of seeing this guy, nothing serious, just two guys having regular sex. Yes, all those assurances I gave myself just the previous year were shredded when I laid my eyes on Chris and felt red-hot desire.

So my second year private life was characterized by dating Esther and shagging Chris. The thing was, I was somehow more invested in my casual relationship with Chris than I was in the more serious one I had with Esther. At some point, a juncture I could never pin down, the dedication I had for Esther in our first year had begun to wane. I was no longer doting and generous with my time for her. The situation was made worse by the fact that I was given an official post in my department, an administrative position that frequently demanded my attention for a number of departmental issues. I became busy, too busy for Esther, but apparently not so for Chris. I found myself unselfconsciously planning for time to spend with Chris, but resenting Esther whenever she complained that we were never together enough. I could see everything going wrong with our relationship, but I was helpless to staunch the hemorrhage. On some level, I didn’t even want to. I gradually adopted this lackadaisical attitude toward her, and wasn’t bothered by the fact that I was hurting her.

It came as such a relief when she called me out of class one day and said, “I think I like you better as just a friend. You make a bad boyfriend. Or perhaps you are just that kind of guy who is at his best when the chase is on, but relaxes when it’s over. Whichever is the case, I like you, and I fear that if we continue with this disaster we’re calling a relationship, I’ll stop liking you. And I don’t want to stop liking you. So let’s just go back to being friends.”

The boy in first year who wanted desperately to be the love of her life would have been crushed. His eyes would have prickled with tears and he would have blinked hard to stem the evidence of his misery. His heart would have twisted and a quiet tremble would have worked its way through his body. His next words would have been an anguished “Please, don’t do this…”

But that boy didn’t exist anymore. He’d been replaced by the one who felt a rush of relief at the breakup, and simply said, “Okay.”

And when Esther began walking away, I found myself reflecting on the significance of this just-ended episode of my life. At no point in my relationship with Esther had I cared strongly enough to make an effort for her. And this was the girl who I’d dedicatedly loved for nearly a whole year, a girl I’d pursued in all that year. I came to realize then that part of the fuel that drove my desire to have her was that need to be heterosexual, that prevarication I held on to over my homosexual tendencies, that desperation to grasp tightly the feelings that made me ‘normal’.

But then, I ran out of fuel. And Chris was there, a sensual reminder that I was – am – gay; the kind of gay that precludes romantic attachments to any female.

Plus I’m a really bad actor. Bad at investing my everything into a character that I’m essentially not, bad at crossing and dotting all the separate Ts and Is that a married gay man must to dot stay married. If I got married, I’m positive I’d be caught within minutes of matrimony.

When I pointed this out to my friends that afternoon, the pro-marriage advocate said, “Every gay man is a good actor, some better than others. We have been playing roles and telling lies about who we are right from birth.”

True that. But right up to being of age, not much was expected of me that infringed on my sexuality. I simply had to be a good son, good with schoolwork, good with chores and good with people. The acting involved as a growing gay man isn’t tasking. The acting involved in being a married gay man requires the commitment of an Academy Award aspirant.

And so, at eighteen, I made the decision to never get married, if marriage meant a woman by my side. At eighteen, I decided never to get into any relationship with any female. At eighteen, I resolved to be undaunted by any pressure that intends to place me in any romantic liaisons with a woman. Because, at eighteen, I realized I was simply too gay to be straight.

Written by Pink Panther

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28 Comments

  1. Mandy
    February 08, 06:10 Reply

    ‘…I was now maturing into my heterosexuality, I told myself. All I needed was an Esther in my life.’
    LMAO!
    So Fate gave you a shot at being straight and you shagged it away with Chris, eh? Ptueh!

  2. Ichie RedEyes
    February 08, 06:50 Reply

    ” And so , at eighteen , I made the decision
    to never get married , if marriage meant a
    man by my side . ” True story

  3. Kritzmoritz
    February 08, 07:17 Reply

    Certain aspects of this story felt just too real.

  4. Colossus
    February 08, 07:26 Reply

    Well, the name at the end surprised me. Good story, thanks for taking us on your journey.

  5. tarter
    February 08, 07:36 Reply

    “Every gay man is a good actor,
    some better than others. We have been playing roles and
    telling lies about who we are right from birth.”…ummmm,this touched me,if only we had the chance not to even act at all and just live our truth!

    and no,not interested in marriage with a woman,but i want kids badly and want a mother for them too..sigh..

  6. sensei
    February 08, 07:41 Reply

    I totally wasn’t expecting this to be written by Pinky! Lol! This was a lovely read.

  7. ken
    February 08, 08:13 Reply

    This is like sooo story of my life, n stuff!
    *eyes rolling*

  8. Max 2.1
    February 08, 08:15 Reply

    “The other friend is a card-carrying member of the ‘Burn MGMs At The Stake’ club”..I’m a life member of that club ??.

    When I saw the ” fair leg” part, I was still seriously wishing it wasn’t you that wrote this, I was wishing it was someone new, someone who has managed to get rid of his internalized homophobia..Each new person we add to the list of “proudly gay people” is a win for us..*sigh*.. We need new/more 21st century gay people.

    • Pink Panther
      February 08, 12:54 Reply

      Lol! Gone to the father-coming-out post? The 21st century gay people ain’t getting any crowdier than its always been.

  9. Dennis Macaulay
    February 08, 08:24 Reply

    Ah!

    I was one of those friends ooo! Infact I visited once when the said neighbor started hounding PP about his girlfriend and I told her to just come clean that she liked my friend rather than beating about the bush.

    Infact we turned the table against her when she talked about his man parts and we told her we wanted to see her vagina to be sure sef that she is worth it.

    She ran inside blushing lol!

    But PP biko even if you need a girlfriend find someone young biko, Esther na Akata abeg!

  10. Jamie
    February 08, 09:00 Reply

    …happened to me last week. I finished envisaging what our dating and wedding would look like when I suddenly, in the evening, began to wonder what was up with me; if I was okay or not. The very ”perfect” woman I’d been thinking about all day became almost like a plague…

  11. Henrie
    February 08, 09:07 Reply

    This piece is everything from powerful and above. “Too gay to be straight.” “Too gay to fake straight.” I admire those who live that double life successfully. I’d fail immediately i tried pretending to be straight. Thanks for bringing us your story.

  12. Teflondon
    February 08, 12:44 Reply

    If I were to write a story about my life and sexuality.. It will be “too dynamic to be one dimensional”
    Thank God not all of us feel like this story.
    I think it’s a rare blessing to be able to comfortably love both sexes.

    • Pink Panther
      February 08, 12:52 Reply

      Clearly your diss is to flaunt the knowledge that you’re bisexual. Kudos to you. Not everyone can get sexual with both sexes. That’s what the post is about. Sexual intimacy, not love. I have more than enough love for the women in my life.

      • Teflondon
        February 08, 16:06 Reply

        Make love Pinky! Make love!! That’s what I was implying. And No! It was no diss, it’s a statement of fact. to be able to love and make love to both sexes is a blessing… And I was talking about myself after reading your story. Which I believe am allowed to.. Yes?
        This ‘Me against the world’ mentality of gay people need to be Checked.

        I’m so over pettiness this 2016.

    • Max 2.1
      February 08, 14:34 Reply

      @Mr Mushin, I wonder how many pussies you slew in the past year.. I also wonder why you constantly brandish your deeply rooted Internalized homophobia on this blog…I wonder. You’re more gay than a rainbow colored unicorn wearing a tutu and a tiara. Its funny how you’re constantly being slayed by your hood rats(your words, not mine) from behind like a thanksgiving turkey and still have the audacity to wave your #TeamBisexual Card. You wouldn’t know what to do with a vagina if it was staring you in the face with a user manual attached to it. Quit displaying your self loathing for the world to see, it ain’t pretty. There’s nothing honorable or admirable about being a bisexual. You’re just a piece of meat just like everyone else.

      • Teflondon
        February 08, 15:50 Reply

        *chuckles*
        @ you wouldn’t know what to do with a Vagina.

        Receive sense and Maturity Max! I pray you.

      • Kenny
        February 08, 15:53 Reply

        I literally died while reading this. Wicked! ???????

  13. Khaleesi
    February 08, 17:06 Reply

    wow, what a lovely piece Pinky … so poignant and profound … i’ll be rooting for you always as you walk in your truth and hope that you find the strength you need for this difficult and painful journey, it’ll get harder before it gets easier, i can only pray that you get stronger and more resilient … **hugs***

    • Pink Panther
      February 09, 03:33 Reply

      Chai! Oh ye prophetess of doom, eh Khaleesi. lol 🙂

  14. KennedyI
    February 08, 18:32 Reply

    Wait oh abeg? Is it bad to be bisexual???? Abi na curse…. Or mayb “concentrated” gay men r more like d “homophobic” straight dudes….. *just thinking*

  15. Stein
    February 08, 18:59 Reply

    There’s quite a number of people who came to mind while reading this, but who I saw at end, made me both surprised and intrigued. i believe that I’ve had an almost exact incident as the story in your university days.

  16. lonz
    February 08, 21:46 Reply

    I came to the same realization in year one. During the long vac i had a long period of severe intense depression. Id lock myself up in dark rooms and did not leave the house for one month. My aunt thought it unusual and tried to cheer me up(i was staying with her) but nothing worked.

    I made some life changing decisions and reaffirmed some already made.

    One was to be true to myself, to live my life for me. I dare say being born gay in nigeria feels like you are cheated. Straight people get the fun courtship, the lavish wedding their love is celebrated and encouraged but gay people, we are seen as an aberation, a bug to be squashed as soon as possible. I decided to be me. To not apologise for being me and resolved to qork towards being imdependent.

    I also have sworn to never marry a female. I can not live a lie, id rather die alone unknown and unsung happy that i lived my truth than surrounded by a false life no matter how glamourous.

    • Pink Panther
      February 09, 03:35 Reply

      ‘Straight people get the fun courtship, the lavish wedding, their love is celebrated and encouraged but gay people, we are seen as an aberation, a bug to be squashed as soon as possible.’

      I constantly lament this quietly and within myself. It’s one of those things so unfair about life.

  17. bryannn
    February 09, 09:11 Reply

    Compelling read: So real, with rare narrative brio. Pinky you just told my story………it blurted out memories!!!!! I do not want to generalise but i think at certain age (16,17,18yrs), most of us, have that thing with initial recluse, asexual and withdrawn lifestyle, followed by trying to naively delve into a straight lifestyle, then failed straight relationships, as we cared really less about the women in our lives, then acceptance dat comes with minimal hook ups, then full acceptance with major shagging and dissing (straight) marriage…….Then celibacy..Is this a typical Nigerian gay man’s flowchart????? thanks pinky

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