I turned twenty-six a couple of years ago. The day after my birthday, my mum woke me up; the time was a little past 3am. She said she couldn’t sleep, that she had tossed and turned through the night and had finally decided to come to me with this matter was of grave importance. Immediately, a sudden fear gripped me. Was someone in the family dead or in some sort of trouble? Or had one of these “no-good kito wearers” decided to out me for one reason or the other (a lot of these guys hang around my area, since I live close to a bar. I make it a point of duty to ignore their snapping fingers and whipping of imaginary hair). Anyway, the fear was real. And in the next few seconds, I thought my heart would explode.

As my mum sat close to me and held my hand in hers, I was tempted to throw my hands in the air and scream some form of explanation. At that time, I had just begun to accept my sexuality and was definitely not ready to come out of the closet. I couldn’t imagine her reaction should I try to explain that her only son preferred dicks to vagina. My mum is well known for overreacting and taking things to the extreme. As the seconds began to tick by slowly and my head swiftly began plotting fantastic stories I could tell to cover my tracks, she burst out with the most shocking words. She told me how she wasn’t getting any younger and how she wanted to carry her grandchildren as soon as possible. Long story short, she demanded to know who I was dating in order to kick-start the marriage process. She stressed the importance of marrying from our part of the country and that I was old enough to get married.

As I listened to the words fall out of her mouth, a strong pool of bile swelled in my belly. I had hoped we wouldn’t have this conversation so soon (actually I wished we would never ever have this conversation). Obviously, it would be easier to sit on burning coal than admit the truth to her. I looked in her eyes and I could see genuine love and care with a hint of years of pain. Hurting this woman is the last thing I want to do, but how do I explain to her that I feel little or no desire to court women. The only girl I ever attempted to date fell so hard for me. I felt no reciprocation of same feelings for her. I could fake the interest, but loving her was impossible. All I could think of was the touch and love of a guy. In the past, I’d often wished I was straight. I prayed and fasted for God to turn me straight. I went to church, attended Sunday school, was a member of the church choir and did all that the good book asked. Still my love for men raged on.

Years later, I am still gay as ever. Gradually I have come to accept myself, love myself and in fact, I am glad that I am gay, even though I’m closeted. I am convinced that my mum knows or at least strongly suspects that her goody-two-shoes son is not like the other boys. Yet she has not stopped demanding I settle down quick. I have imagined several ways of coming out to her, I know she can take it. She is a strong woman. But I do not how she will react. Besides, I am in a family where nothing stays secret for long. Soon everyone will get to know my little secret and I fear I may be cut off, disowned or worse.

Many of my friends my age are married. Some have kids. All are still very much as gay as I am. In fact when I look at their wives, I am shocked that they are agreed to the union. Do they even know of their husbands’ true sexualities? I wonder. What is it with African tradition and heterosexual unions? How can a gay man ever love a woman the way she deserves to be loved? Sometimes I think that perhaps marrying a lesbian may be easier. She may be more understanding and compassionate. But I’ve had bad experiences with girls in the past. They have no secrets. In a fit of rage, a woman could go the extra mile to hurt you. What then? Wouldn’t that be more humiliating? My second option is to flee abroad. But where do I start from when I get there? Honestly, the tradition of loveless marriages is doing more harm than good. Or am I the only one that feels this way?

Written by Ken George

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