By Herself

By Herself

Something struck me the morning that I saw my sister off on her way to work. While we stood by our junction, waiting for a taxi, I saw a woman in her very late fifties, walking along the other side of the road. I was taken aback by the sight of her because I had never seen an androgynous older woman in Nigeria before.

Her hair was cut short. The grays on her hair shone like diamonds against the morning sun. She was dressed in a pair of loose jeans, shirt and a pair of sneakers. She walked with a proud gait. She was beautiful. Goodness! At that age, she was still beautiful.

Of course, I had my gaydar on. So, I thought to myself: Na we, we.

When she got closer to us, she waved at two elderly women standing beside us and walked pass.

Then, I heard one of the women say, “Nawa o! So, as this woman fine reach, she no marry or even get pikin.”

The other one clapped her hands together in mockery. “When she was busy selecting men, what did she expect?” She laughed.

I was almost tempted to scream at them: “Shut it!”

I felt my heart break as I thought of how difficult it must have been for LGBT people in the old days.

I bet it was worse for them because being Gay or Lesbian wasn’t something you were supposed to say out loud or be out loud, let alone taking it to the next level by being hopeful that you could be get to love who you love till death do you part.

I wondered if LGBT people of that woman’s generation even had any fight in them, considering how regressive the Nigerian society was back then. (Not like it has progressed much in these times) I wondered about how they were probably persecuted, how wrathful the society considered them to be pariahs and abominations.

I thought about them then. And I think about that woman – that beautiful androgynous woman, still unmarried in her fifties.

I wonder if she is alone. Alone because she couldn’t have been married to a man. Alone because she sought to be true to herself. Alone because, like those two women she greeted beside my sister and I, everyone she knows and loves derides her for choosing to stay single instead of choosing a man to marry.

Then I think about the strength it must have taken her to make the choices she made to be true to herself. That strength is something I laud her for.

I always say you love who you love. That is life. Love has no gender.

These are our best years. We have enough fight in us. Time is of the essence. Make sure you are in love with who loves you back. And then, together you can fight for your truth. Fight in all subtlety or boldness to be together. Time and society have probably been unfair to that beautiful woman with the shiny grey hair. But we are different. We are young. We are strong. We still have time. And we shall overcome.

Written by Ibiso Victor Membere

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  1. Mandy
    August 09, 06:48 Reply

    The day people start respecting the choices others make regarding their individual lives will be the beginning of a better society. I can’t even imagine what the woman in this story has been through to get to where she is now, beautiful and true.

  2. DBS
    August 10, 04:00 Reply

    Beautiful piece. We are young. We are strong. We shall thrive..

  3. Wonda Buoy
    August 10, 19:19 Reply

    I can’t even begin to count the number of gay friends who have married and are waving the “straight” and “I’m morally better” flag.

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