WHEN THE LAW IS STILL THERE

WHEN THE LAW IS STILL THERE

“After the law was passed…”

Recently, we read THIS STORY about one of us who almost got into trouble with a policeman pretending to be gay. What struck me: the story not only bore sadness and fear, but ended in resignation and hope for good against evil.

I know it’s a defence mechanism: glossing over pain while moving on to brighter ground to talk about nicer things – like porn, Phyno’s lickable tattoos, Bunkside Frenzy, Jay Z and Bey–lange…

But does this help? Paracetamol may take care of the headache brought on by malaria, but without actual malaria treatment, you’ve only attacked a symptom not the illness itself.

I don’t know about the personal lives of everyone reading this, so I’m just working with a content analysis (posts and comments) of stuff we’ve had here so far. Thou shall not be offended, promise?

After the law was passed – according to the post – the writer was depressed, and while waiting for time to pass, he deleted shirtless pics of guys on his phone, binned his porn, deactivated his dating-site accounts… And then in the comments section, somebody tied himself to a chair, another one’s smooth skin transformed into gooseflesh, and yet somebody else advised that everyone rein in their libidos.

These are good pieces of advice, legitimate reactions – for self and for others… Again, is this the solution?

The Nigerian system

The Nigerian system is intrinsically violent to homosexuals. The foundations have been dug with ignorance and commissioned by law. We’re not wanted around here. (Although this is debatable; we are “wanted” for immediate arrest and prosecution. What’s not clear, however, is how much bounty has been placed on our heads. I hope we are not cheap!) Also, as rights activist Yemisi Ilesanmi says HERE, a gay person who makes it to court alive, would count himself lucky. Remember the case of the Bauchi gays and the raging mob?

A very good friend of mine told me on Whatsapp that “we” – I don’t know who his collaborators are – “will find gays wherever they are and when we do, we will kill them!” I bade him good luck with his mission. He said he was disappointed I was in support of homosexuals. I told him that’s not going to change.

Tears too loud, silence too grave

Since the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag broke on social media, I’ve refrained from comment. I’m on hibernation. Also, I have lost half my faith in online activism; everybody talks, nobody walks. Call for a protest, you’ll see only 15 persons; call for Immigration jobs and you will see thousands. I know, I know…many reasons can be adduced for this. Besides, it’s easier (and safer) for bolder actions (e.g. protests) to be embarked on when demanding the release of abducted persons than it is for same when demanding gay rights. Which means: as far as speaking up about our dues goes, we are stuck behind our PCs and phones. Sad but not entirely hopeless.

I was in a Facebook group once and someone raised the subject of the “rampancy of homosexuality” in Nigeria. (But we don suffer sha! SMH) I have many friends in that group of 120-odd persons, some of whom are gay.  But I didn’t see many of their comments. They kept skipping that post like they were suddenly struck with blindness when their eyes wandered there. They were jollily commenting on other posts in the group, but you see that LGBT post? Not a word.

After the jail-the-gays law was passed, I monitored my newsfeed for my gay friends’ posts and comments. Same result. A few people furtively liked posts and comments (including mine), others offered a word or two of solidarity. Still, the silent ones clamped their jaws tight. For the whole month-plus that Nigerians carried on about gay this, gay that, these quiet bruvs seemed to peeping through the blinds, waiting the fire out…This too shall passThe coast will soon be clearNigerians will soon find something else to distract them… and we can get with our lives.

And then time passed.

And Boko Haram struck.

And public officials mismanaged funds

And as the outrage of Nigerians was split

Life went on.

–          from “After the law was passed…” by Pink Panther

For how long can you hold out?

When you tie yourself to a chair, you’ll untie yourself someday. (Although you and your lover can spice up your sex life with one of you tied to that chair with socks, and gagged… Thank me later!)

When you can your hormones, you’ll un-can them again someday.

When you break off contact with every gay guy in your life today, you’ll re-establish those contacts someday.

And when you do, the law will be lurking out there, armed with hate and narrow-mindedness waiting for you, waiting for me.

This Demo

One of the landmark events of my life is that as a young boy, I was flogged for being gay – publicly… It’s a few years to my 30th birthday and I still get chills when I remember, because the incident opened a whole new chapter in my life. I knew hate, discrimination and friendlessness in broad daylight. I knew how one could be alive and yet be dead, because no one wanted to have the simplest interactions with you like share a seat or borrow your eraser.

In the weeks preceding this grand public display of disaffection towards me, there was a trial. The school prefect who took it upon himself to investigate who was a fag and who wasn’t said to me: “Abbie, do you know when I started watching you closely?”

I shook my head.

“You remember…” He described an incident many months before when he was supervising my class for Labour and I yabbed one guy.

I said I remembered the incident.

“That was when I started hating you,” he said, his eyes narrowed.

Blood pounded through my tummy.

“So tell me, are you a homosexual?”

“No,” I said. I could not speak more than one word at a time. I was learning to fear more, speak less.

Eventually he found out I lied.

I don’t know how it happened.

I’d only heavy-petted one guy before this time (and told myself never to do it again and gone to confession and prayed that God hide this act…) so it must have been difficult for him to have my name turn up in his investigations. All he had were the whispers of snitches, suspicions, etc. No hard evidence.

He was furious. “I almost believed you were telling the truth!” he said before the conks came raining on my head.

It was past 2 a.m. The moon was up, three-quarters of it. We were in the middle of the hostel complex. The flogging was scheduled for the next day.

My other classmates, who confessed or told on others out of fear, got off lightly. But I – I who dared to make a joke in this world when I was a mere homosexual and then dared to deny that I was, I who had only a 30-second smooch under my belt and loads of penance in its wake…didn’t…

When midterm break came two weeks later, I wheeled my suitcase into my father’s car, sat still. And when he asked, “How was school?” I ignored the dull pain pressing into my butt (from the whiplashes) and assured him with a faint smile that school was fine.

I’ve only told this story in sketches because this was the hardest section to write. But, most importantly, what this demonstrates is that any reaction from us bolder than cowering, shrinking, is NOT appreciated by bigots. From some comments I saw after the law passed, many Nigerians seemed enraged that we dared to make noise about that hate law; they didn’t bargain for that. That we still have mouth to talk on top of our abominable existence – the nerve! I have two friends on Facebook who blamed the big mouths of gays and our supporters for the law’s existence. Their submission: society would have let us be if we had not gone and demanded equal rights. Well, I was gay-bashed before Bisi Alimi’s coming out in 2004, and that law had been a bill since Obasanjo’s government, so what are they on about? Fuck them.

What we must think to do

Once, I told my best friend this story. He sympathised, and warned me to be careful.

About what? I wondered. It’s like telling a woman whose husband beats her to stop annoying him. How about the next time he comes charging at her like a drunken bull, she stands her ground with a gun pointed at his head?

Do not get me wrong; I’m not picking on anyone here or prescribing for anyone, or endorsing violence (We cannot treat animalistic behaviour by being animals ourselves.) I’m just addressing our tendency to stop at BEING AFRAID AND “CAREFUL”. I’m worried that we are giving our oppressors what they want. Many of them are not interested in seeing us in jail as much as they are interested in seeing us suffer in silence, remain invisible – “Y’all gays just shut up already. If you don’t like the way our society is structured, relocate!” That’s why they rob and blackmail us. Who can we report to? The police? Again, this HERE is the story of men attacked by a mob and thrown out of their own homes in Abuja for alleged homosexuality. It happened right in the territory of the seat of government. Did your President come out to say anything? Did we hear “Diarris God oh” over the matter?

We cannot stop at telling one another to be careful, and hope that no evil befalls us. Because it could.

We must be ready to push back, no matter how subtly.

When your colleague at work makes a joke about you being gay (These things are common these days, even when you’re the so-called “straight-acting” type), do you say, “God forbid!” or “What if I were?”

Do you dare to make it clear that you have nothing against homosexuality, in fact, that you support it? Or do you pretend amazement at it in order to drive suspicion away from you?

Do you make effort to befriend a bigot or two, to engage and re-orientate? (Not sexually, please!) In the heat of the debate sparked off by the hate law, some of my friends deleted and blocked anti-gay proponents off their list. I didn’t. I’d rather they deleted themselves or continue to endure my pro-gay views. I have seen homophobes won over to tolerance. I have seen the fires of hate grow cold. That is the vision of hope we should carry: change. Change fought for. Not distraction by the next scene in Boko Haram’s explosive series, the next intrigue between PDP and APC, the next Champions League match…so we can sigh in relief and arrange the next discrete hook-up. ■

Written by Absalom

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29 Comments

  1. Dennis Macauley
    June 03, 04:16 Reply

    This is by far the best article I have read here! I haven’t really considered this perspective! One Million Likes

  2. kendigin
    June 03, 04:45 Reply

    Nice 1. This makes a lot of sense. But I believe we won’t achieve much by soft-pedalling I.e it wld be easier to try to convince and enlighten this generation on the need to be tolerant and liberal, but enlightening the older generation (our ma and pa) is like speaking japanese to a deaf dog.

    I believe the only way to change society is through strategic organized movement. We gays and pro-gays need to filter in and place ourselves in positions that matter the most. Until we are able to take charge of the reigns of govt, I don’t think much can be done. Imagine if the president and half of national assembly were pro-gay, this bill wld never have been passed

    • pinkpanthertb
      June 03, 05:41 Reply

      We shouldn’t only be gay and pro-gay in seats of power, but also unafraid or loathing of our sexuality. Becos, of course, there are queer politicians currently in the senate and all over the Nigerian legislature, and yet the bill got passed into law. Why? Could it perhaps becos these men and women who enjoy the same thing they were condemning are either in denial or unwilling to speak up for their beliefs?

      • CeeCee
        June 03, 16:49 Reply

        Well said Pinkie, the level of self -hatred, which is borne oit of internalized homophobia is appalling. You see, a lot of us grew up in very religious/conservative homes where from a young age we imbibed hatred of anything gay. So now such persons are grown but still remain stuck in this phase of mind like a vicious cycle, they are gay yet they hate gays, they love to fuck men yet they hate gays. This is a very damaging state of mind as you will never get to fully embrace yourself if you dont get to understand,love and accept yourself …

  3. therealsalte
    June 03, 06:19 Reply

    I believe a man shouldn’t be ashamed opening his pot of soup in public kitchen unless he has only water not soup in the pot. I’m proudly gay always. This is the best I’ve read on this blog. Very insightful.

  4. JustJames
    June 03, 07:12 Reply

    I think one of the ways we can diffuse homophobia in this country is through the media. Very subtly… like the gay best friend of the major female character or something that just makes us gays look like the humans we are.. not sex hungry men who are out to rape little boys.
    We don’t seem normal to nigerians and nigerians hate things that don’t look normal. Once we can manage to normalise being gay in the country I do believe things will be much easier.
    I know it’s a lot harder than what I’m writing but I still stand my ground… The media is one of the best ways to diffuse homophobia.

  5. xpressivejboy
    June 03, 07:14 Reply

    I love this…I’m already in love with Absalom. So sense-making.

    I work in a very homophobic organisation and when my nosey colleagues make cynical remarks about me having tendencies of being gay; I simply say “Are they not humans?” And these colleagues will try to laugh it off by saying you wouldn’t be after all these things you do with girls in here…little did they know it was fun for me making the girls feel important because I feel what they feel and nothing so thrilling ’bout them leaves me wanting more than the ordinary. I’m not Bi…I’m so gay and they stupidly want to believe that I’m straight, simply ‘cos I refused to let them shove in fear and denial into my gorgeous heart and mouth.
    Absalom, I need to be friends with you…you really inspire me; now I feel I’m safe on the right track and with wisdom, caution and subtleness, where necessary, I’ll walk with my head tall not saying anything but saying much and be left to be ME.

  6. Chizzie
    June 03, 08:06 Reply

    I think we are making progress, Howbeit very slowly. A few years ago the average Nigerian didn’t even believe that homosexuals existed in Nigeria. Now,not only do they know they exist but they are willing to talk about our existence how be it scornfully in most cases; But every now and then amongst the millions of homophobic ridden comments on social media…there is that one straight person who goes : How about we just leave them alone? There is hope, but in tiny flickers.

    we must realize that it took developed countries centuries to come to terms with homosexuals, Even America still hasn’t completely won over most of its States to be Pro-Gay ( Arizona just passed an Anti Gay Marriage Bill), so it irks me when I see western countries pressuring African countries to be open about sexuality. I feel it might take a while but we will get there.

    what we need is a catalyst, that one person or group of people to stand up and brave the opposition and trigger a revolution. I don’t think most Nigerians are that brave, and so like most things in this country; We watch and see how it goes

    • trystham
      June 03, 11:57 Reply

      Jesus of NAZARETH!!! After reading this comment I blamed myself for not having read through. I virtually quoted u.

      Not being a pessimist and all that, but in this time and now, that catalyst might probably be looong in coming. I still think triggering a revolution for a better life for the average Nigerian would translate to a better life for the average homosexual. Na poverty and joblessness dey cause all the lynchings and mobbings…even those not sexuality-related. You cannot reason with a hungry man. If Nigeria were what its supposed to be-evenly rich and prosperous, I’m quite certain the average man would rather a criminal were arrested than get their bloodied. #myopinion

  7. Dominic
    June 03, 09:54 Reply

    Thought provoking! Good one there. Seriously the cowordice, guilty-by-birth, sinner, devil attitude of some guys tire me. I once send a link of one of the stories on this blog to a friend on bbm hoping he would like the blog and he responded that he already knew the blog and that’s its nice. So teasingly I said ‘oh so na u be the commenter Ceece, I don catch you…lol. But his repsonse was ‘ who is ceecee? … I was like some regular commenter on the blog and he said ‘God forbid, I don’t comment I only read. WTF! God forbid what exactly? He said he is only being careful of his environment….and immediately the little respect I have for him vanished. The ease and pace he used to type that ‘God forbid’ comment made to think about how quiclkly he would condemn, deny, and cause homosexuality if ever he was asked his opinion publicly.

  8. Absalom
    June 03, 10:27 Reply

    Chizzie, do not wait for a catalyst. Be one, in your own little way. The more buts we place on the way to turning around ignorance and hate, the more generations unborn meet us where we currently are.

    African countries concerned should have un-criminalized homosexuality like yesterday. Do not excuse homophobia for any reason. Don’t pamper it. Homophobia is the crime not homosexuality.

  9. trystham
    June 03, 11:43 Reply

    Dear Absalom,
    Great write-up. The war against homophobia is going on but even in more tolerant climes, coming out and supporting homosexuality isn’t easy. I have come to realise the unspoken words of the personal write-ups that have been posted on this blog…including yours- “what would my family think?”
    The family’s stranglehold attachments make it difficult to declare for homosexuality.

    Judging from the personal posts I’ve read on here and interactions with other gay people, in our relative environments, I see a lot of “if you can’t cope with my mannerisms, jump off the bridge” attitudes (especially for my sisters) bringing a degree of awareness and tolerance for homosexuality. I do believe we are trying. Heap the blame on the straight actors abeg

  10. fiqiyahaya
    June 03, 11:59 Reply

    Just finished a class in Africa in Global Affairs and the topic was “Democracy in Africa”. The lecturer talked on how civil rights societies advocate for d wrong things like Gay Rights. That tingling of my skin and the looks from other students made me want to reply the lecturer but I couldn’t. After all I was the girly gay guy in class. But I didn’t. I couldn’t.. I was scared and afraid of what they would say or the way I’ll be looked at.
    My silence hurt and now I seriously wished I had talked on how “they” (God forbid me call myself gay) never fought or took to the streets to canvas for equal marriage rights.
    How they just wanted to live and let live and be free from discrimination. How they just want to love and be loved…….
    Yet I didn’t

    • Absalom
      June 03, 18:40 Reply

      Fiqiyahaya, I know what it’s like to be in that situation. And I think it’s a brave thought you have there about speaking out from now on. To whittle down the hate, you can start talking to friends you can trust. After the initial shock, they’ll resign themselves to protecting you and your interests. It’s a gradual process, but it’s doable. You take care, bro. 🙂

  11. La Roche
    June 03, 14:28 Reply

    Amazing write-up……errrmmmm Chizzie, is it ‘albeit’ you’re writing as ‘howbeit’? No shade….but men, I had to say something. You went for it a bijillion times.

  12. CeeCee
    June 03, 16:45 Reply

    Mehn, this is by far the most cerebral and academic piece ever written on this blog. Am blown away by the intellectual prowess of both the author as well as several of the commenters. Obviously explodes the theory tht abounds in Nigeria ‘that gays are Idle,possessed, psychologically dusturbed individuals’ bravo!!! The fight against homophobis in Nigeria is a long hard and painful journey which from my conservative estimates will take at least 70 – 100yrs for any reasonable impact to be made. In the meantime, we must all strive to rise above tje hatred by excelling in our chosen fields, so that in spite of the hate, they cant help but admire …

  13. Blaq Jaqs
    June 03, 17:09 Reply

    The choicest adjectives have been used already to describe the depth and breadth of this piece.
    Thank you for inspiring me, to do a little more, from my own little space…

  14. QueerBoi
    June 04, 07:05 Reply

    Hi all.. This might sound stupid buh its my opinion. To a very minute extent, We the so-called ‘gays’ are responsible for what’s happening now.. I said “very minute o”. Why, u may wanna ask, I’ll tell u. First the name ‘gay’ is the problem.. What is “gay”? Where is “gay”? Who is “gay”? To the best of my knowldege, gay is a word in d english dico. Its a word used by ‘others’ to describe the homosexual commuinty and/or a peron. So if ur name is yinka, and I call u samson.. Does samson become your name? We the so-called ‘gays’ have allowed the outside (heterosexual) world to label us. We call ourselves what they want to call us. (If ur oga calls u a servant or slave, its ur choice to decide if u’ll call urself that). If u call urself ‘gay’ u r conforming to the idea and mindset of the heterosexual world. Take for example, when “straight” guys talk, do they mention the word ‘straight’ in their convo? Do they say. “Oh! I’m straight and proud”. My point is, when u allow society to name u, u r giving em room to maime u. The famous lyrics of macklemore, ‘gay’ is synonymous with the lesser.. Even in democracy, the lesser hardly wins.. So, I’m nt asking y’all to come up with a new name or brand for homosexuality like (tb). It is what it is. Wether u fuck men or women or animals or waheva. (Pls dnt fuck animals) you r a human being. And that’s just u.

  15. Absalom
    June 04, 10:20 Reply

    Hi, QueerBoi. I see where you’re going with the “gay” label thing. I’m not crazy about labels myself; I choose which ones to accept and which ones to reject.

    However, correction: it was the homosexual community that came up with the idea to call themselves Gay. Happened last century.

    Second: What is this straight mindset you speak of that connects WITH the label Gay? Perhaps you’ll explain better. Again, we have to be careful not to label all straight people bigots. Bigots are a special class of people.

    Third: How is Gayness (now we have accepted the label) synonymous with “the lesser”? Is that how you feel? Ok oh.

    Lastly: Straight people don’t define themselves by their sexualities. True. But that is normal dynamics between the privileged and marginalised in any society. Correcting that is up to us: by not keeping silent, and by pushing our way from the fringes of society into the mainstream… That way “Gay” or “Homosexual” etc don’t have to precede everything we do/say/are etc. And I know that would please you very much. Ditto. 🙂 So your opinion is not stupid. At all.

    • QueerBoi
      June 04, 10:42 Reply

      Hey absalom, forgive my rudeness. The piece is wonderful. *should have said that earlier*. And I’m happy my opinion isn’t stupid. U made a few corrections to my comment and I totally agree with them. However, u didn’t quite get it from my point of view. When I talked abt d word “gay” I wasn’t referring to it lexically.. I meant it contextually. I.e the african context. What gay means in some places isn’t d same as what it means here in Africa. And also if ya say its lexical. My point still holds. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay you can verify for urself. I didn’t say all straight people r homophbic. Again if u take in context, in africa we have more hetero’s than homo’s thereby making it lesser In population and in practice.

  16. luke
    June 04, 10:57 Reply

    Who ever you are l will find you and l will buy drinks or take you shopping what ever you do for fun, Wow beautiful piece, very well addressed and again thanks for sharing your thoughts and gift with us.
    But then we shouldn’t just read and praise the writer, but imply his words and feed of it, we need first to let go of our “SELF HATE” and l know some would say it’s not very easy, but someone once said if you can’t love yourself, no one would love you much, so accept you being for who you are and what you will be come, and work on a better road to becoming a better person. We also need to stop the “GAY on GAY HATE” I mean it’s bad enough that some people in this world don’t want to see you live, do we need to start hating each for no reason or petty reason. And then we need to educate people around you to accept you or see you for being a human before being gay. Gay is our sexual orientation, but first we humans, then boys, men or women, bankers, lawyers, traders, lovers, brothers, fashion stylist, let not forget we are what we want people to see and know us for.

  17. InLoveWithAPHBoy
    June 13, 16:06 Reply

    This piece just made my day…It’s making me play certain events in my head over and over again……Kudos

  18. yagnam
    June 13, 18:58 Reply

    Good atticle, touching, challenging, scary, but promising

  19. Please is Absalom on Twitter. Heck this is someone I can have a good conversation with. Another lovely article

  20. Ace
    June 23, 00:24 Reply

    Haaaaaaaa! Why haven’t I been to this blog before? This piece shows that there are guys out there that are not only consumed by the desire for sex but can also engage in very intelligent conversations. This blog has changed my perception of the gay community as one that is one track minded. Good work

  21. Jaja
    August 30, 16:44 Reply

    “Next hook-up”? I hate the texture of promiscuity around this phrase. Only God knows how much I dislike unfaithful gays.

    • pinkpanthertb
      August 31, 04:38 Reply

      LOL. Jaja, you sound like you’ve been burned once…or twice.

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