Coming Out And The Consistency Of Self Truth

Coming Out And The Consistency Of Self Truth

Dear Pinky,

A few weeks ago, we were together in my house and had a most wonderful conversation. You urged me to write an article to that effect; you even encouraged me to start writing regularly for Kito Diaries. There is nothing I would love more, but life has a way of getting in the way of our best laid plans.

The subject of our conversation that beautiful Saturday morning was Coming Out; the necessity or lack of it. I opined that it might not be necessary to come out as long as you live your truth consistently. Yes, consistency is the buzzword for this treatise. And my fellow KDians, I wish to bring this to your notice.

I may never have set foot outside the shores of Nigeria, but this we know – that Nigeria is one of the worst places to be queer in the world. There’s homophobia all over the world but that in Nigeria is premium grade. And then add things like Culture and Religion to the mix; you get a cauldron that will put the Witches of Endor to shame. So on this backdrop, someone will now come and say, “We need people to come out of the closet, because, visibility.” In saner climes, that can work. Sure we have a couple of people who are out in Nigeria. Some are pushing boundaries while some are content to remain in the closet.

As long as we have a law that criminalizes same-sex liaisons, coming out will never be an option that Queer Nigerians will choose, albeit willingly. It must however be said that we need visibility if we want that law to be upturned and it’s not for the likes of Bisi Alimi, Jide Macaulay or Kenny Brandmuse to do it for us. Yes, they are prominent queer Nigerians, but they live in Diaspora and have a certain immunity we cannot afford. Furthermore, I don’t think anybody will take the argument of a queer person living outside Nigeria into consideration when making decisions about the draconian same-sex prohibitions act. The battle will be tough but all hope is not lost.

Should a queer Nigerian come out? Is it safe to come out?

Coming out gives visibility – but at what cost? You see eh, we can talk about the lives we live, how fanciful and fantastic. We can read blogs of intellectuals and indulge in civilized discourses. We then end up thinking that the opinion of Nigerians on queerness is changing. (*insert chuckle here*) We might think that, until we go to the comments section of the blog of a certain has-been or InstaBlog Naija or Nairaland.

There you will see Nigerians in their element, spewing hate.

Don’t get me wrong, some people have come out to friends and/or family and have gotten wonderful acceptance and support. This is the exception, not the rule. We however still need visibility, out or not. And this we can achieve by consistency.

In the famous words of Bisi Alimi, “I was gay by the time I first cried as a baby.” I don’t know if it holds true for all of us, but it certainly is true for me. It took me twenty-something years to get comfortable with my sexuality, but I’m here now and there is no turning back. In the past, I did dabble in a heterosexual relationship. There were some feelings, some sexual feelings. I sort of hoped that it would straighten me out, but in my heart of hearts, I knew I loved men and will always do. As a result, I had to end the relationship. I guess that was the beginning of my journey to consistency.

As I write this letter on the eve of my twenty-ninth birthday, I have come to realize that if I were to come out to my family tomorrow or next week or next month, they won’t be awfully surprised. Some of my siblings and friends suspect; they will be pretty silly to not have suspected, but I’m not yet where I want to be. So coming out will have to wait.

The argument that homosexuality is a choice is advanced by queer people who are inconsistent because they need to “belong”. I for example will not be caught in a conversation discussing parts of the female except in academic parlance. I am not one that goes to function with women even if it’s just to keep up appearances. I have never referred to a woman as sexy; I might say “hot” but not “sexy” because I don’t know what a sexy woman looks like. I am the type of guy that calls other guys by pet names and hugs them. I like to have sleepovers and brunches. I am famous for my bromances. Does it sound like I’m keying into stereotypes? That is not my plan. You see, these habits of mine individually are not “harmful”. You can’t say because I love brunches that I’m gay, but if I do come out to you, you can do a quick mental recall and say, “Oh that certainly explains a lot.” I have consistently lived my life with this truth. I’m not out though, so you can’t “prosecute” me for being gay.

Living your truth as a closeted queer Nigerian is all fun and games until you are asked, “Are you gay?”

This question is one I dread because if I lie, that means all my talk about consistency and authenticity is just that – talk. And if I tell the truth, I might as well paint a target on myself.

So what’s the way forward?

Dear Pinky, you remember I told you that if someone whose opinion to me mattered asked me, that I would come clean. Nna, I lied. A few days after you left, someone whose opinion mattered to me did ask me. I couldn’t come clean. I side-stepped the question and felt like a fraud. It set me down a dangerous path. I felt really sad and disappointed in myself, like I had betrayed the cause. After conferring with some friends, I realized something. It is okay to lie about your sexuality. It doesn’t make you a fraud. No.

Did I hear you ask why? Well, it is because self-preservation trumps authenticity particularly in this clime. In more advanced countries, people still live in fear and so remain in the closet; even in countries that have legalized same-sex marriages. How much more here where homophobia is very much the norm.

Lie about your sexuality if you must. Side-step the discussion if you can. But don’t ever give up your authenticity. Don’t ever conform to make them feel more comfortable with you. Sing whatever song gladdens your heart and drop whatever dance moves you feel like. Let them know that we are queer, we are here and we are fab.

Yours homosexually

Swan King (formerly Silver Fox)

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  1. Dunder
    February 07, 08:06 Reply

    My personal way of dealing with this situation is to live my truth and hurt no one while doing it, myself included. I am not interested in building cover with the innocent lives of other people- if I must “fit in”, i’ll wait for a box that befits me, not that constructed by barbaric hypocrites who tout a slavery-misogyny-racism-pedophilia for dummies manual as their reason for hate.

    Hopefully, I can defeat my procrastinating side and pen a summary of how I came to this conclusion but till then, I have long realized that I have no business building cover with the lives of other people. I don’t think it fair at all, preying on someone’s ignorance or desperation and then driving that person mad with worry and confusion when they realize they are in a battle they are anatomically destined to lose.

    Most people want kids. How well do you think they will fare in this environment where a parent is emotionally neglected or when they discover secrets bigger than them? When you have applied a fellow human being as a mere means to an end (children), would you still fulfill your duties since they are not as needed anymore? Of course, you wont be as invested, knowing their own prospects have also statistically declined and the fear of wagging tongues is more deeply rooted. The next move would be to drag them through divorce court for about a decade, banking on their silence and instinct to protect their kids from the homophobia you’ve helped fan as it has been alleged a particular uncle is doing.

    If the issue is marriage, you’ll stand before a God you claim made and sees all things and instead of protesting loudly at his altar for making you in his image and walking off, you’ll give YOUR OWN WORD to be faithful to someone you don’t love enough not to swindle and make promises you have no intention to keep- the person marrying what he/ she considers to be chattel and the people allegedly applying pressure- are they not equally manipulative tricksters, one and the same? How different is the hypocrite reading out unreasonably rigid and inhumane rules and the one who wants to join them?

    It’s an even sadder gamble for women- you know how heavy the cross you’ve been bearing is, why complicate it when you can finally have a bit of freedom? Where will you find the freedom to have and/ or keep love if you are to submit to someone not on the same lane as yourself? Have you considered the possibilities being married will rob you and how it would affect your capacity to mother? You may kick the can farther off but the body keeps score. Do you want your spouse holding the weight of your secret against you when the dots finally connect? Have you considered the duties and the roles ahead?

    With time, I have learned not to cast my pearls before swine. If I’m not inclined to share my sexuality with you I respond with “That’s my business”. I have come out to my siblings and have received encouragement and offers of support. It has been quite different with my closest friend and things are were they are. If you are expecting beau pics on social media, quickly forget it and as for when you are going to choose asoebi, “I will marry when I want”. Sorry for the long comment.

  2. Francis
    February 07, 08:12 Reply

    Depending on the person, situation and location, my default answers to Are you gay are “How the fuck is that your business?” , “Yes” and blank stare/walk away. I don’t remember actively denying it

  3. Tobby
    February 07, 08:27 Reply

    You are not under any obligation to come out to anyone

  4. Tobee
    February 07, 08:54 Reply

    Interesting discussion, and your perspectives make sense. Even in developed countries, there is some evidence that coming out can be injurious for young people – especially in the immediate period and where there is little support. Even here, there is some evidence that negative responses to coming out are associated with mental health adversities. So it’s good to ensure there is alternative support (in case of a negative response), and relatively independent before coming out to others. Coming out to oneself – i.e being comfortable in one’s skin is also important. There’s no point coming out to others if one still has reservations about one’s sexuality.

    However, as the writer pointed out, we do need some degree of visibility to achieve an initial societal tolerance and eventual acceptance. I think individual safety comes first; but I hope that over time, we build a critical mass of people who are comfortable enough with themselves and have enough resources to be out and visible.

    • Oludayo
      February 07, 18:18 Reply

      Exactly Tobee,

      A lot of people find coming out to be dangerous to their mental health even in more civilized countries. I think the most important thing is to have a nuclear unit that is supportive and you’ll be okay anywhere you are.

      Someone threw me that question when I said I wasn’t interested in a gf and I denied it o. I hadn’t seen him in a long time and didn’t know where he stood so I chose safety. I’d agree with Swan King-self preservation is the priority.

      When we finally fly out this place, we can then come out publicly and “inspire” others.

  5. Jamison
    February 07, 09:10 Reply

    For the life of me, I don’t know how it’s anyone’s business if you are gay or not if your sexuality doesn’t affect them in anyway.

    Next time you are asked that ultra personal question, you let them realise it’s no one’s business and shut it down there.

    Your coming out is your own decision to make and quite frankly, You are not obligated to do so. Live your truth and be sure u are making choices that ensures your safety.

    Good Luck Everyone!

  6. Dimkpa
    February 11, 12:07 Reply

    “Lie about your sexuality if you must. Side-step the discussion if you can. But don’t ever give up your authenticity. Don’t ever conform to make them feel more comfortable with you.”

    This makes no sense whatsoever. Lying about your sexuality and maintaining authenticity are mutually exclusive. Lying means given up authenticity because you claim to be something you are not. And it also means conforming to make people comfortable with you. So which is it? Do we lie to conform or do we strive for authenticity because we can’t do both.

    Sir Patrick Stewart said “No one regrets being homest about sexuality”. I have found this to be true in my case. The reality usually proves to be better than our worst fears.

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