WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

I came into last year, 2017, with a renewed sense of self and a determination to no longer be apologetic with my sexuality. The reasoning that governed me was simple: I am a human being – black, Nigerian, tall, light-skinned, literary and gay – all of these characteristics I was born with, which make me a person, and which in no way takes away from my deserving of the same basic rights as the next person.

I am a human being, and as 2017 dawned, I told myself I wasn’t going to let anyone get away with treating me any less.

I began to come into this realization when the journey with Kito Diaries started in 2014. The write-ups, the stories, the opinions, the counter-opinions, the conversations – all these came together to gradually give me an ever-strengthening perspective of me as a gay man. It all came to ahead towards the ending of 2016, when I spent some time with two people I care about.

I’ll start with the latter. She is Lisa, the older sister of my first boyfriend, John. I used to spend a lot of time in their house when I was dating her brother, and it was only fitting that she and I would become friends. That friendship was threatened after my split from John, but somehow we survived and stayed close. Lisa was also homophobic and we often sparred online, but in those days when I didn’t even know what homophobia was, I was able to overlook her denigration of who I essentially was and hang out with her for the odd lunch, always internalizing the hurt I felt from the things she’d said.

Then the period happened when she was confronted with her brother’s sexuality – and by association, mine. (Read HERE). She dealt with it, even though I wasn’t around to observe her do so. I’d moved to Lagos by this time while she was in Owerri. In we didn’t get to see much of each other for a long time until December 2016, when I traveled home to Owerri.

We met up for lunch, and lunch turned into an experience that was refreshingly open, frank, honest and totally accepting. Having to deal with her brother’s sexuality and with the knowledge that there was this entire aspect of him that would remain inaccessible to her unless she learned to love him for who he is spurred her to start working on herself, to start unlearning everything she’d learned about homosexuality being evil, to start being more accepting and open-minded, and a better person for it.

Before lunch was over, we were laughing a lot as we reminisced over the time John and I were together and all the moments she suspected that we were more than just friends. We were exchanging tips about men, shamelessly ogling the hotties that walked past us in the mall, and just generally having a good time.

The friendship we rediscovered that day has stayed open, honest and loving, and free of judgment till this day.

The second person I encountered, who affected my resolve was Akan, the sexy straight friend I once had the hots for. (Read HERE). No romance came out of my desire to be close to Akan, but I got the second best thing: a friendship that was kind, generous and beautiful. Our interactions had no inhibitions and his company had absolutely no judgment. Oftentimes, when I’m with him, I tend to forget he’s straight as I talk to him about the goings-on of my life with the same frankness that I would a gay friend.

As I rang in the new year of 2017, I pondered on these two friendships amongst a few others. Theoretically, I’d always known that there are heterosexual people who are capable of relating with homosexual people without being hampered by any of the prejudices that come with thoughts of penises and vaginas. I knew relationships like this existed in theory, but experiencing them made me realize that homophobia has absolutely no excuse to exist. Every person who grows up learning one thing about gay people can – and should – be able to unlearn these things on the altar of humanity. And I began to hold this expectation especially high when it comes to my relationships.

I know a number of LGBT acquaintances, people who are fierce in their activism for equal rights, people who will not stand for prejudice – and people who are interestingly not as stern when the heterosexual relationships in their lives spout prejudicial sentiments. There is a convenient silence when that straight friend says something that hurts the LGBT community, an indulgence of those lite homophobic opinions, a determination to look the other way perhaps stemming from a feeling of an indebtedness to that friend for staying on as friends even after full disclosure of their sexuality. He knows I’m gay and is cool with it, so he gets a pass for the things he says.

I used to be like that with this young woman who used to be in my life. She was well-versed in the art of homophobia lite, masking her biases with an intelligent open-mindedness that made every opinion she had on the LGBT seem like gospel. And for years, I was too grateful for the fact that we were friends to confront her with her bullshit.

Then 2017 happened, and expectedly, because of my new consciousness, we began butting heads frequently on- and offline. It got so frequent that a mutual friend decided to mediate between us. And her response to the mediation was that she’d never speak to me until I apologize.

Apologize! Whatever for? For pointing out that gay people deserve equal rights? For remonstrating on the inhumanity of using one’s Christian faith as a cudgel to beat one’s discrimination over gay people? For maintaining that there’s no excuse to not love your neighbour as yourself based on hi9s sexuality?

With her demand came this realization to me that I’d been living my friendship as an apology to her. The foundation of our friendship was based on my invisibility as a gay man. I had to be less for me to deserve any goodwill from her. And that moment of epiphany came a thorough displeasure with myself: here I was, using Kito Diaries as a forum to preach self love and self acceptance, when I hadn’t given myself that much consideration. For how loving can you be of yourself if you present to those in your life a diminished version of yourself, whether in words or actions?

And so, I made an executive decision: to present myself a black, Nigerian, tall, light-skinned, literary, GAY man to everyone whose relationship matters to me – whether by the things I say or the things I do. To be unapologetically me with my loved ones. To let my actions and utterances rebuke homophobia first and foremost in they who claim to love me. To look myself in the mirror and take pride in the fact that the face reflecting back at me is the face I’m presenting to everyone else who matter.

And as much as I could, by God, I did not waver from that standard all 2017-long. And it gave me a certain kind of joy to know that when a homophobe, in some online or face-to-face interaction, lip-curlingly called me a “homo”, I could laugh in his face and wonder why he thought that was an insult. It gave me a deep-seated sense of pleasure when I found that I could no longer associate shame with my sexuality. When a friend once quipped that because of my bold gay activism in some 9000-membered Facebook group, I must be out to the whole world, I chuckled and said, “And what is wrong with that?”

And that is the question that should be the foundation of your pride.

What is wrong with that?

What is wrong with you being gay? What is wrong with you sleeping with someone of the same-sex? What is wrong with you loving another person gendered like you? What is wrong with you playing the field, dick to dick, pussy to pussy? What is wrong with you wanting to spend the rest of your life with your fellow man or woman? What is wrong with wanting a future with him who is so right for you?

What is wrong with that?

The simple answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing!

When you recognize that answer, when you come face to face with that truth that is often hard for most of us to tell ourselves, then you’ll begin to understand your self-worth.

And that is where the freedom we seek starts from: from You. Not from the homophobic public you wish will stop looking daggers at you, or the clueless government you hope will repeal the antigay law, or the unscrupulous characters you pray will stop targeting us via hookup apps.

The freedom you seek starts from you and the moment you realize you are valid just the way you are: gay as fuck!

May we learn to do better by ourselves in 2018.

Written by Pink Panther

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16 Comments

  1. Zilayefa Pere-Clark
    January 05, 06:48 Reply

    I love you pinky
    I love you soo much.
    This is the best thing I have read in 2018.
    #wemuststoplivingandstartexisting

    • Pink Panther
      January 05, 08:05 Reply

      Lol. I think it’s the other way round, to stop existing and start living.

      But thanks, Zilayefa. 😀

  2. Kritzmoritz
    January 05, 06:59 Reply

    A well written, well articulated and delightful piece. And for the most part, thought provoking.

  3. KingB
    January 05, 10:42 Reply

    I thought I was the only one that resolved to be happy in 2017 till eternity. After going through a major phase of depression at the discovery of my sexuality by parents, I decided I was not gonna allow anyone make me unhappy. Though my dad and younger sister seemed to consider me human before gay, my other siblings and mum despised me. My mum is the worst homophobe that there is! She didn’t fail to remind me that I was the reason the family lived in abject poverty as a result of my sexual preference. She said I was never gonna result to anything meaningful in life. She segregated my siblings from me on the premise that she didn’t want me to infect them with my homosexuality. I on my part at the dawn of 2017 looked in the mirror and told me I deserve better. I told me I was gonna love me unconditionally. I told me I wasn’t going to seek validation, acceptance or assurance to live a happy life. I’m first a humanbeing before gay. I got out there got a job and enrolled in a school. Day in, day out, I try to be a better me. I stopped relying on them for anything. I feed myself, clothe myself, pay school fees, buy text books and basically do everything myself. God willing, my resolution this year is to get an apartment of my own. Though some of my friends are advising against it because I’m 24 but I ain’t taking any of it. I want to be completely self reliant. A little advice to you brothers, strive to be self reliant. Go out there and get you a job. Don’t rely on anyone for anything not even mum or dad. Quit running after big dicks and fat asses. You can do better. Don’t seek validation from anyone to live a happy life. You deserve the good things of life happiness inclusive. Get a partner. Practice safe sex. Build your empire. Be happy. All of these have kept me going. Though I’m yet to get hooked but I’m hopeful some day Le boo would locate me. Be happy brothers.

    • Mandy
      January 05, 11:12 Reply

      Your mother though… Wow. No one should ever have to endure the injustice of a bad mother. I’m glad you’re at peace with yourself and thriving. Keep being happy.

    • cedar
      January 07, 07:40 Reply

      Am so touched by your story hun. I pray mum comes around sooner than later. More strength.

  4. Mandy
    January 05, 11:16 Reply

    What is wrong with me?

    Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not even a little bit of something.

    Thanks for this beautiful write-up, Pinky.

  5. Delle
    January 05, 11:24 Reply

    A delightful piece. Thanks for brightening my day, PP.

  6. Houston Scholar
    January 05, 11:26 Reply

    “And that is where the freedom we seek starts from: from You. Not from the homophobic public you wish will stop looking daggers at you, or the clueless government you hope will repeal the anti-gay law, or the unscrupulous characters you pray will stop targeting us via hookup apps.”

    Pink Panther this excerpt should be printed on a portrait. This year is the year where the society should be compelled to hear our voice, especially in my parent region in Northern Nigeria. I don’t want to read any obituary this year of a student killed on the suspicion of homosexuality like the two students killed in Jigawa and Kano states in 2017. Still thinking of the way to present this subject from an intellectual and philosophical approach to the general audience in Northern Nigeria without spurring religious salvos? Any suggestion here will be appreciated.

  7. Houston Scholar
    January 05, 11:37 Reply

    Pink Panther at your free time, I will like to hear your thoughts about the first academic book on the subject of Homosexuality in Northern Nigeria “Allah Made Us: Sexual Outlaws in an Islamic African City (New Directions in Ethnography)” authored by Professor Rudolf Pell Gaudio from State University of New York at Purchase. Here is the link to the book http://bookfi.net/dl/1119275/e2cf10
    This conversation can sometimes be better understood when it is presented in an intellectual and philosophical approach to the community leaders who influence public opinions.

  8. Francis
    January 05, 14:15 Reply

    Happy New Year everyone ????????????? #UnapologeticallyGay

  9. Dunder
    January 06, 00:42 Reply

    Insightful, cerebrally orgasmic and most importantly, true. I should make out time to pen my own mental journeys that brought me to realize that I should captain the ship of my own destiny no matter how hostile the sea. Mr. PP, you are daring greatly. Thank you.

  10. Sim
    April 10, 10:10 Reply

    *Scoffs* at tall.. 😜

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