WHEN THE WORDS ARE QUIET AND THE SILENCE IS LOUD

WHEN THE WORDS ARE QUIET AND THE SILENCE IS LOUD

Ok so where do I start?

I was about 13 when I was caught with a friend from church. This friend was gay and had come to see me, and the only person in the house at the time was my much older cousin. She was however getting ready to go out. My friend and I were in my bedroom, and when my cousin stepped out, we got undressed till we were wearing only boxers, and we began play-wrestling.

Unknown to us, my cousin forgot something and came back. She must have heard the sounds coming from my room, because she came over and spied us through the keyhole in our state of undress. Even though we weren’t doing anything overtly sexual, our caper was intimate enough to get my cousin really bothered.

What she did next is something that is cruel and unforgivable. Instead of barging in to confront us on what we were doing – or, I don’t know, simply minding her business and going on out of the house to attend to that business – she first of all went out and brought some neighbours in to watch us and see what she had seen. She wanted more witnesses to our “abomination”. Then they barged in on us and dragged us outside. There were some SS guys living on our street, and they marched us to their house, whereupon we were flogged. Not a small flogging o. I was so wounded from the flogging, I have a scar that serves as a reminder of my cousin’s wickedness.

But my woes didn’t end there. When my father returned home that evening, I was reported to him and he flogged me as well. My mother was away in Kaduna for a work thing and so didn’t get to probably contribute to the corporal punishment as well.

That was the last time I saw that friend from church. And thereafter, my parents did not bring up the issue of what we were caught doing in the room.

In June 2014, I had my next brush with my family’s homophobic brutality. I was in my final year in secondary school. I went out to see my then boyfriend, and by the time I was to go home, the traffic we could see on the main road was murder. So, he suggested I spend the night with him. Before then, I had never stayed the night outside my parents’ house. I agreed and out off my phone so I wouldn’t be bothered by anyone from my family. The next day, per our plan, my boyfriend then called my father, telling them he was a Good Samaritan who had found me lost and stranded and had offered me a place to stay for the night.

By the time I got home, my parents were much too relieved to question the story I gave them about why I didn’t come home the night before. However, there was an uncle who was staying with us and he was in his twenties, just young enough to suspect that I was lying. He called me to him and asked me in an encouraging tone to tell him the truth about where I was last night, that whatever I tell him would stay between us. He had on this “you can trust me” attitude that lulled me into taking him in my confidence.

Of course, the default setting in every growing closeted gay child to hide who he is held me back from actually telling him the truth. I genuinely believed he was talking to me as a friend, but I still couldn’t admit to him that I had been out, spending the night with my boyfriend. Instead, I admitted that yes, I hadn’t been lost and stranded. That instead, I was at a party and by the time I realised myself, it was too late for me to come home.

Either this man still didn’t believe me, or he wanted to get receipts for when he would expose me to my parents, because he asked for my phone, saying he wanted to check something. Some excuse I can’t even remember. I trusted him. I gave him my phone. He asked me to unlock it and I did. And he went straight to my WhatsApp, going through my messages and coming across my chatversation with my boyfriend.

And there it was. Finally. Evidence that I was doing homo things.

He couldn’t tell my parents fast enough. I was flogged and my phone seized. My SIM card was broken and I was grounded. After that, again, my parents didn’t address the issue or do any of the stuff I hear Nigerian parents typically do when they find out they have homosexual children – you know, taking you from prayer house to prayer house, hoping to break the evil spirit in you. To break you.

No. My parents went back to their daily existence like their flogging of me had taken care of the “problem”. Life soon returned to normal for me and the years passed.

But they never forgot. Recent events have informed me of the fact that my parents have not forgotten that I am gay, that their silence on the issue all those years ago probably stemmed from a fear to give the elephant in the room more life than it should have, a reluctance to let who I was overtake their lives.

The other day, I was having a fight with my father, when he snapped something at me in Yoruba that rendered me immediately speechless. In the heat of the moment, he raged, “Iwo lo nidi e tondo!” (This means: “It is your nyash they are fucking and not mine.”)

If you jaw just dropped, then you have captured how astonished I was to hear those words from my father.

Another time, he’d been trying to get in touch with me over the phone. I wasn’t answering his calls, but he was eventually able to get through to me by using my mother’s phone to call. When he asked why I didn’t pick his call, I said I’d missed him calling and would have called back, but didn’t have airtime in my phone.

And he retorted with, “But you have airtime to call your girlfriends – or is it your boyfriends?”

And again, I was dumbfounded. This makes me feel some type of way, because my parents love me. I know this. And knowing this, I don’t know how to feel about the fact that they obviously know I’m gay and have not addressed it with me. I am left wondering what I should do. If I should bring it up or let things be. If it’s an issue I should force so we can begin the journey to them accepting me as I am, or if I should leave well alone.

This is my story. Thank you for reading.

Written by Toby

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15 Comments

  1. Sim
    February 15, 07:12 Reply

    I think ur parents know ur gay and knows they can’t change it. They probably flogged u as they would have, if u were caught with a girl at tht age. I wouldn’t bug them, or have this discussion now- maybe when ur older and have got ur life together.

    • Pink Panther
      February 15, 07:50 Reply

      Lol. Sure. If he’d been found with a girl, they would have flogged him like they did when they heard he was with a boy. That’s exactly what it is. 😏😏

  2. Posh
    February 15, 07:37 Reply

    How about your useless cousin and Jobless uncle? Have they made it in life yet? Useless people.
    Love you My dear tobi.

    • trystham
      February 15, 08:06 Reply

      I wanted to kuku ask about them, but not like this😂😂😂

      • Nel
        February 20, 14:36 Reply

        Interestingly, that was exactly how I wanted to ask. I also want to know lol.

  3. Marv
    February 15, 08:58 Reply

    Forget about coming out. Focus on your career and/or studies. Then be independent before comimg out.

  4. Kenny
    February 15, 10:39 Reply

    Start preparing yourself, things might get worse between you and your dad. Prepare yourself so that you’ll be fine with shutting him out.

    Focus on being independent as soon as possible…. Independence helps keep some of the homophobia at bay

  5. CHUCK
    February 15, 12:43 Reply

    please who has Prince George/ King’s contact details? whatsapp or bbm

  6. ken george
    February 15, 13:01 Reply

    Your parents obviously know u are gay, so u might as well come out, eventually.
    But make sure u are already independent when u do so
    Its not still going to be easy for anyone of u, but best of luck!

  7. Black Dynasty
    February 15, 13:54 Reply

    They already know you are gay but are firmly in denial…. so I would suggest not coming out at this point.

    Focus on your career, finances and independence first. I have to emphasise that being completely independent drastically limits the impact of how negative family can be with homophobia.

    Good luck

  8. Canis VY Majoris
    February 15, 19:50 Reply

    By reading all the comments above.

    Case in Point = Be financially independent before having that ‘talk with them or else you might be setting up a ‘Go Fund Me’ soon.

    They’re all ‘right’.

  9. Patrick
    February 16, 02:53 Reply

    I actually think it’s a good thing that your parents have some vague knowledge of your sexuality. I think it’s worse for some of us whose parents don’t have an inkling. They think we’re good boys because we don’t do girls.

    I predict that when you finally come out to your parents–when you’ve become financially independent–they’d have warmed up to the idea of you being gay.
    Don’t despair😐

  10. Kristo
    February 16, 23:23 Reply

    whilst others might offer aloof and impartial advice…. I really cannot as I connect with this ur story on so many levels….my bro caught me with my friend “knacking” …my sis read my chat with a boy I was prepping fr “knacking” …although those times were hard and seemed unending but it did end!

    although the undertones of the matter still resurfaces in family talk …but I’ve learned to move past it …absorb it …..

    I urge you to do so ….( I am not encouraging disrespect) but whenever ur parents allude to your sexuality…..b snarky …it often helps …or not ….

    ii) as others HV rightly said b independent b4 venturing any “coming out yadayada.

    u can contact me for solace and anything……. mmmmmm (ask the admin,)

  11. Anonymous
    February 18, 12:59 Reply

    Your story actually made me wish I could just sweep over to your location and just do some kind of magic to get your parents approval to have you staying on your own. honestly, it will be a very tough journey to get your freedom but I just believe that focusing on your career and studies is the way to go now. one thing you need to understand is that your dad cannot just bear that image of his son being gay. This is africa, so we can’t blame them for the way they think. I sincerely don’t know how I found this community but it is the realest shit i’ve seen in a while. I’m not really a fan of blogs, but this one I’m very sure to keep up with the updates.

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