JAMES’ JOURNAL (Entry 57)

JAMES’ JOURNAL (Entry 57)

March 11

I was in Lagos a couple of weekends ago. I had just written some grueling exams and I was suffering from migraine and the stress kept me grinding my teeth, which didn’t help with the headaches. I’d wake up with them and sometimes painkillers didn’t help. I got nightmares a few times from the anxiety about my results. I felt I needed a break so I decided to go visit my aunt in Lagos. Maybe from there I could hang out with a few of my pals at a stage play I was going to watch.

I didn’t tell me parents I was headed to Lagos. I didn’t need my mother constantly calling to ensure I wasn’t partaking of the things God wouldn’t like. I was sure my dad would take things in his stride and not mind my impromptu trip if I told him, but I kept mum.

The journey there wasn’t so bad. Upon getting to my aunt’s place, I realised my uncle who lives abroad (the one I talked about in the previous entry who asked me questions about a story I posted on Facebook), was around. Uh-oh!

The consequence of him seeing me in Lagos would be a mention to my parents. So I decided the best way to salvage things was to tell my dad I was there. I casually passed along the info via chat, and immediately followed after with an article on Donald Trump and proceeded to have a small argument with him about the content. I think that distracted him a bit.

A few nights later, my uncle showed up from a meeting he’d left Lagos to attend in another state. He seemed pleased to see me and stuff. During this time, my mind didn’t stray to that Facebook story. I thought I’d cleared it up when I firmly told him it was fiction. How naive.

The day following his return to Lagos, I was called into his air-conditioned room and asked to sit down. I didn’t mind. He was prone to trying to impart repetitive words of wisdom whenever he showed up to the males in whatever household he was present in.

So he began talking, about cleanliness and stuff, scrubbing armpits and stuff like that. And then, out of the blue, he said, “I want to talk to you about sexuality.”

I was startled at first, then a bit pissed.  Dafuq!

He wasn’t even subtle like the last time. He asked me what my sexuality was. I told him I was straight. He asked if it was 100% and I shut down my inclination to say not really and said “Yes 100 percent” with a smile, because I found the lie funny. He asked if I had ever been with a guy and I said never, this with a slightly surprised look, like I couldn’t imagine how he’d think such a thing. He asked if I was sure and I said yes.

Then he told me he had discussed me with my parents. He didn’t elaborate on that. I was really angry with him then. What was his business? And why did he have to go talk to my dad? I actually started to panic a bit. My dad was the only person who had never changed towards me when he found out about my sexuality; something I love him and will forever be grateful for him for. And now this man was discussing me with him. I didn’t mind him talking about me to my mother, but my father… What if he’d said some things that would make my dad change towards me? Things would be feel much worse.

I however didn’t say anything, not like I would have if I could. I wanted to ask what my parents had said but I didn’t.

Why was he asking me these questions anyway? I was sure he’d gotten his answers, at least from his intelligence. And in the end, what was he going to say that I hadn’t heard before? That it’s not normal from scientific point of view and biblically too. He actually said some shii about how men and women are so different that there was no possible way for same sex to be attracted to each other.

He asked about girls. He asked if I’d had sex. I snorted my laughter at that one and kept mute because there was no right answer.

I was finally saved by a knock on the door. Someone had come to see him.

I left his room a bit shaken. I was also making up my mind. The nuclear family is worth fighting for, but not the extended family. Has my uncle crossed a boundary? Yes. I don’t know how I’d snip him off my Facebook without him noticing, but I’ll give it time. He’s bound to notice I’m gone if I unfriend him. But I’m past caring. Then again, maybe unfriending him is not necessary. My Facebook account isn’t exactly a gay one. Let me just watch and wait.

I know some people here are all for snip-snip-snipping away the people who don’t agree with who you are when it gives you grief. I can see how that is logical, but I’m not an entirely logical person.

It hurts when the people you love do some things and it can drive you into bouts of sadness and depression, but sometimes you learn to be strong for yourself especially if you genuinely care.

It doesn’t mean you should cave in to their desires or suggestions on how your life should be lived though. I think it means learning to compartmentalize your life. Restrict their access to certain areas of your life. It’s possible to love the ones who hurt you. Just love them from a distance.

I look forward to being my own person and I am making feeble attempts at it. But I’m not going to do stuff like avoid going home or not calling my family or shunning any efforts to maintain a healthy bond. In fact, my wanting to be on my own is so that I’d be able to choose when I can do those things. If mother’s or father’s wahala gets too much or I feel like I am tired of handling it at that moment, I’d move back into my own apartment, something like that.

I recently had a conversation with my elder brother. I was telling him about how mum had called just to ask where I was (as if I’d let her know if perhaps I was in Kaduna. I take solace in the fact that even my younger brother has made a journey that was over three hours long, unbeknownst to our parents). My elder brother pointed out that the reason why she still bugs me is that she’s not convinced I’ve changed.

On the issue of my sexuality with my elder brother, I’ve been conservative with the truth. He’s quite homophobic but seems to make an exception for me because of our kinship.

But during this conversation, with a loudly beating heart, I went ahead to tell him I’m not even trying to change, that I’ve held my breath for a miracle for over 4 years and nothing had happened, and so I’d decided to be comfortable in my own skin instead of being depressed and suicidal like before.

Predictably, he responded that it is wrong, that the bible said so.

Honestly my initial aim was not to get into a ‘right or wrong’ argument with him, but I had to point out that many things in the bible were wrong. I countered his argument about Sodom and Gomorrah with the bible verse that said God destroyed the city because they were wicked and a few other details I had read somewhere. I didn’t have a counter argument for the overused ‘Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve’ line he trotted out. But that was when I realised I had gone off-track with the whole thing. The argument itself is a messy one. This minute relying on science of biology and psychology, and the next, trying to point out his hypocrisy that the same bible wants disobedient children to be stoned to death and slavery wasn’t seen as bad and all that.

I realised all of that was beside the point. I wasn’t interested in defending my actions, which is what most people want to do. Going into the defensive was that part of me that had residual guilt about my being gay (Someone will probably jump in here with his ‘one size fits all’ diagnosis of internal homophobia). I remembered something I’d said before; being gay, like so many other things, is neither good nor bad, but is something that just is. And that was what I was interested in letting him understand. What is. What and who I am. A gay youth. No colourations or half hearted attempts at getting a girlfriend or anything. I told him this and left it up to him to deal with it how he wanted.

But my elder brother is a loyal to his siblings. That’s a very admirable thing. He assures me constantly that no matter what, I’m his brother and it won’t change. He’s defended me and my younger brother on so many occasions and hardly any bad thing escapes his lips about us.

I think part of the reason I decided to mention all this to him is to prepare myself for later. Better start now before it’d be when I’m older and they are looking at me for wife that I’m not bringing home. My younger brother wouldn’t be much of a hurdle; his stance has mostly been “who am I to judge you”, even though in a way, that’s him subtly judging but keeping quiet about it sha. But it’s a better deal than some others. I trust he will come around to an extent as we grow older.

My parents will die at some point, but my brothers, if all goes well, will be around for a pretty long time. I guess my parents don’t have to come around, though it’d be nice. But when you have brothers who know what’s up and stuff, the ride would be a bit easier. I hope.

I’m not hoping to have Christmas dinners with them while holding hands with my significant other. Lol. Okay, maybe I kind of am. But I’m not holding my breath. I’m however hoping to be able to sit with them with no judgement in their eyes because they don’t see their gay brother who is a source of embarrassment to the family name, but their brother who they love very much.

Yes, I’m a sloppy sap. Bite me.

*

On Tuesday, there I was bursting with joy at the confirmation of the fact that I’d passed some exams. I called my mother to tell her the good news. And it sort of backfired.

After congratulating me and telling me to ensure that no setbacks like that ever happen again, she brought up the sexuality thing. She’d always brought it up before but something about this one was just awful.

She began talking about how she wouldn’t be doing me any good if she kept quiet about it. She reminded me it was the devil trying to prevent me from doing the great things I was supposed to do in life, that who knows, maybe it was the reason I wasn’t leading my class (never mind the fact that I have little to no interest in the course to spur me on to be disciplined). She told me how I was refusing help from them (her and spiritual people) and instead I’d chosen to live in deceit; that if I’d just let them, these spiritual people would be able to get to the root of the matter because they have the eye to see these things. She told me that I should stop befriending “those people” that I have refused to cut ties with, like my best friend Ash; that I used to be a good Christian boy and had a Christian best friend till I started to move with this other one who introduced me to it (she even went ahead to say maybe I introduced him to it). She said a lot of things, like how people would end up hating me and how only because they are my family, her and my dad and siblings are tolerating it. She made me question what kind of relationship I had with my father.

For me, one thing about being very happy is that in that state of happiness, it’s easy to become very sad. And all I heard from my mother saddened me to no end, because they were basically the same hateful comments you hear and read all around; this time however, they were coming from family. It’s easy for antigay sentiments like this to wash over me if they are coming from strangers, but not when they are aimed from family, especially not this time when it came out of the blue. I’d heard these remarks a million times before, and yet, they still cut through my psyche like hot knives and left me catatonic for a long while.

After the call, I thought about stuff. Some part of me feels like maybe my plan to just distance myself is not such a good one. Maybe I should just disappear, like not be heard from again. I’d go to some foreign land and try to live a nice comfortable life. It’s not purely selfish. I’m doing it for them too, you know, saving them the embarrassment of having a gay member of the family. And meanwhile, I’d get to live my life hopefully somewhere more tolerant.

I’m going to redouble my efforts to become independent. The gifts God gave me will be my way out. I just need to put my paintings out there more, I believe.

As for now, it’s time to protect my psyche. I’d hate to do it but maybe I should take the same stand I took with my uncle and vehemently claim to be hetero. Even if the evidence is glaring, I’ll stick to my story. Only the people that matter will find their way in.

Written by James

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44 Comments

  1. Mandy
    March 13, 07:10 Reply

    The second part of this entry killed me, the section where your mother attempted to slay your spirit with the things she said.
    “She said a lot of things, like how people would end up hating me and how only because they are my family, her and my dad and siblings are tolerating it.”
    My goodness! I’m struggling with my opinion of your mother, and it isn’t pretty. Does she even know how wounding those her words are? This is something that takes a thick skin for one to take from the general homophobic public. But family… they already have an in. And when they strike like this, it’s just brutal.

  2. Mandy
    March 13, 07:13 Reply

    This is a common flaw with ardent bible thumpers: the tendency to lose touch with the reality that truly matters. Telling you your family is tolerating your sexuality because they are your family is NOT LOVE! But the funny thing is, mired in her faith, she doesn’t seem the harm she has done. In her mind, what she’s doing is showing you love. Ptueh!

    • JustJames
      March 13, 08:49 Reply

      I will not stop believing the fact that she loves me but her love has been tainted by something drastic and that is fear.. Fear for my future both earthly and spiritually.. Fear of what this means with my relations to society. She wants me to be safe and well adjusted. but she doesn’t realise sometimes the /yiur family is all the safety and adjustment you will need. It doesn’t matter much now though if it’s love or something else. I’m getting tired of itm

  3. Jamie
    March 13, 07:30 Reply

    Huh??? Makes me feel like every coming out to ma dad was a HUGE mistake!! I know ma sis would be very tolerant, she’d understand; and that’s not ruling out that so far, my dad has been understanding…, but his could be the stance of the father who’s brewing up for exorcist excercises with son and traditional healers… I’d just smartly make him unconsciously let it out to the rest for me…, maybe except my step-mum. That one…?
    Also, I think emigration from here to an LGBT-friendly country could be the beginning of one’s downfall if they don’t have an creative ability…singing, songwriting, drawing and painting, modelling, etc.; or maybe one’s own money, or an already established bae…
    Anyway, nice read, James. As usual, an intelligent post. You see, you owe no extended family any explanation; if your immediate family wants, let them tell them. At all times, just keep on being strong…

  4. ambivalentone
    March 13, 08:27 Reply

    I dunno, I sorta found this macabrely funny. Why? I’m in the war zone now and I kinda thot ‘if James’ mom starts to go all nasty about the sexuality thingy, perhaps it is time to start sending links about queer people who suicided via whatsapp’. This is not to downplay the pains felt by all who have lost ppl to such situations, in fact, it is a self depreciating humor, but it is time she is threatened. She knows that u trusted dem with that info and if they will keep harping about ur ‘sinful’ life, she might as well live with the terror of knowing she can cause your death if she doesn’t stop. I wonder what shame will weigh more heavy on her. Suicide or a gay son

    • JustJames
      March 13, 08:42 Reply

      NO! I will not even entertain the thought of suicide talk less of threatening her with it. I think there’s an improvement in my psyche.. At least I just want to run away now unlike those times I was researching least painful ways to die *shudders*.
      I’m however hoping for an opportunity for her to watch prayers for bobby. I doubt it’d change her mind but it might make her question some of those things she dearly believes.

      • ambivalentone
        March 13, 08:57 Reply

        *shrugs* Its up to her what she thinks about the links you send her. I had only hoped she’d feel thteatened enough to stop…if you’d taken that up. You wanna run away (more or less) fine.
        As it is, I do not see the remote chance u will commit suicide. Your journal, paintings and covers are ur outlets.

        • Mandy
          March 13, 09:19 Reply

          There’s a certain macabre appropriateness to your suggestion, ambi. Tbh, if I got constantly guilted by family who I know love me but just won’t quit, I’ll get devious o. Something’s gotta give and it won’t be me.

  5. Mr. Fingers
    March 13, 08:38 Reply

    All these coming out to family thing is not for everyone. Its never easy but if u must come out to ur family at least wait until u are fully independent. We are still in africa and homophobia is still very much a part of our soceity.

    • Pink Panther
      March 13, 09:14 Reply

      Fingers, if you’d started from the beginning of James’ entries, you’d understand he didn’t just up one day and come out to his folks.

    • Kenny
      March 13, 09:20 Reply

      Sometimes we don’t come out to our parents out of our own volition, our closet doors were yanked open by circumstances beyond our control. What happens after we’re out depends largely on us then.

      PP can I have your email please?

  6. Kenny
    March 13, 09:06 Reply

    James…. This conversation you and your mum keep having is unhealthy. It has to stop. Tell her she’s making you unhappy if you don’t this cycle will keep repeating itself.

  7. Francis
    March 13, 09:35 Reply

    Yet another depressing story to start the week ??

  8. Absalom
    March 13, 09:43 Reply

    Wow. This was painful.

    What I know though: It can’t go on forever. Your mother is trying her last desperate attempts to “rescue” you before you are completely out of her hands and she can no longer have a say in your life.

    She is hurting you because she is hurting as well. Eventually, one person will have to win and I hope that person is YOU.

    For me, you have been courageous from the beginning. I wish I were in your shoes! ?

    Do you think you could get her to see “Prayers for Bobby”? Not that you’re threatening her with suicide or anything.

    • Delle
      March 13, 13:53 Reply

      You wish you were in his shoes?

  9. Chizzie
    March 13, 09:48 Reply

    Would your mother be happy if you eventually kill yourself? Can she please just chill? What’s the rationale behind African parents nagging thier children to change, all it succeeds in doing is isolating thier kids and making them more depressed. At this point I’m exasperated with this ordeal with your mother, and I have to commend you for not lashing out because to be honest, I probably would have at this point.

    I guess endure for a couple more years, till you are old and independent enough to not have to deal with her.

    • Kenny
      March 13, 10:02 Reply

      When he’s independent, it’ll get worse, parents have a way of getting to their children no matter how far away they are. At that point, he’ll be pressured to get married and not bring shame to the family name. He still won’t be happy at that point. He has to firmly tell his mum to stop and the earlier the better.

      • Delle
        March 13, 13:55 Reply

        Being independent would in NO way worsen the situation. At all.

        • Kenny
          March 13, 15:18 Reply

          You didn’t understand my comment.

  10. Kenny
    March 13, 10:24 Reply

    I’ve said it once here before and I’ll say it again. Many of us in this part of the world don’t tell our parents how we really feel because we don’t want to come off as disrespectful or hurt their feelings. It shouldn’t be so. My mum gave me an ultimatum to come home with a girlfriend (there was a time frame). I simply told her it wouldn’t be happening and if it would, it’ll be on my own terms and accord. Many months have passed now and after a big fight that had us not speaking to each other for almost a week, she has let me be and I prefer it that way. It’s better we don’t talk about it than she taking me on a guilt trip or making me do what I don’t want to. Yet I’m still largely dependent on them. So James doesn’t have to wait till he’s independent for his narrative to change.

  11. posh6666
    March 13, 11:20 Reply

    African mothers can really nag sha! When a child now commits suicide they will now start shouting that their enemies have finally succeded.
    This reminds me of Jefrey in the haves and the have nots how his mother frustrated his life and actually sent a thug to whoop his ass and also blackmailed and threatened him with jail term if he didnt switch off his gay.

    Every scene with her and him talking was painful for me to watch,the way she wanted him to stop wearing brightly coloured suits,hand bracelets,staring and talking to Wyatt the white boy he had a crush on and how she actually made him sleep with a girl hoping she gets pregnant so she can force him into marrying her.

    This is in the U.S oh talk more of Nigeria and this things are actually still happening overseas too…Well sometimes I try to put myself in their shoes and imagine if I was on the other side of the fence would I be so understanding towards the gays? In the end I think all they just want is a normal child who would fit into the societal expectation but they really cant imagine the trauma they make the child go through.

  12. posh6666
    March 13, 11:28 Reply

    About the movie a prayer for bobby I actually cried at the end and had to delete it immediately.The mum was broken and she really wished she could turn back the hands of time but it was too late,too bad she now became a source of support to others but she never got to do that for her own son.

    The things religion and the holy book causes sha!

      • ambivalentone
        March 13, 16:17 Reply

        Azzin!!! I neva see film, I don melancholy finish. Good job, Posh. Good job

        • posh6666
          March 13, 16:55 Reply

          Lmao haba guys that film don tey oh I assumed most of us would have watched it since it deals with an issue we are all facing day to day.Oya sorry

  13. Khaleesi
    March 13, 14:56 Reply

    James, i cant get enough of how you write from deep within your soul, i love how you throw open your innermost self and usher the reader in. Its a difficult and bitter hand that we’ve been dealth – finding ourselves gay in this part of the world where a toxic mix of religion and homophobia hold sway, nevertheless, we must be strong and persevere! There’s no other alternative. Your family really loves you, if they didn’t, you’d have been disowned and cut off by now! That in itself is enough reason to continue to bend over backwards to tolerate/accommodate their homophobic ways. Its probably never going to be possible to convince them to rejoice and cheer the day you decide to walk down the aisle with a man, but you have to find some sort of middle ground that works for all of you, of course both sides will have to sacrifice a bit, but shebi they said that in the end ‘love conquers everything’ …***hugs dear****

  14. Mitch
    March 13, 15:09 Reply

    James, honestly I don’t know what to say to you because I’m going through the same thing right now. I just wish things could be easier for us, you know. Afterall, we didn’t choose to be who we are. My mum’s taken the entire thing to a whole new level. She outed me to my project supervisor and how she got his number is what I don’t know. What I do know is that this wouldn’t last forever. One way or another, we shall overcome. Stay strong J!

    • posh6666
      March 13, 15:24 Reply

      Outted you to ur supervisor for what and why exactly?what was she trying to acheive exactly? Nawao things are really happening.Like she didnt think of what such info could do to your academic grades you have been working hard for since level 100 and just ruin ur whole life basically

    • JustJames
      March 13, 18:50 Reply

      I’ve thought about it and even attempted it one time.. but my dad is someone who believes in dealing with your own shii.. It’d take something huge for him to speak up about it.

  15. Chandler B.
    March 13, 19:15 Reply

    Paraphrasing the Dowager Countess (Downtown Abbey), ‘Love is a stronger motive for people to do worse things…’ The excuse of love is what people think permits them to be able to hurt someone. The whole ‘I’m doing it ’cause I love you’ shii. If you love me I’d rather you UNDERSTAND me and then SUPPORT me. I agree with Kenny. You need to take a stand sometimes and go on the offensive because, given the way you relate with your mum, being independent won’t change a damn thing.

    • Francis
      March 13, 19:21 Reply

      Well, in my case, being independent and living far away from them is the best time to shut them up. Me I’m cashing in on the fear of dem not seeing me in years and it’s working. ??

  16. J0j0
    March 13, 21:24 Reply

    Just get yourself together… We y’all face shits like this one way or the other.. just stay put to yourself..

  17. Kester
    March 14, 06:45 Reply

    I think I want to marry James, he is so pure. Well… that was me straying a bit from the issue at hand.
    I think you have a lot of pluses in your life, an understanding phlegmatic dad, a supportive elder brother, a pseudo supportive younger one, it’s more than what many people have.
    I know you really love your mom to pieces but you need to talk to her and let her know how much she hurts you when she says what she says. In my own experience mothers never give up so don’t imagine she will change unless there is a major fall out. Even when you run to gaytopia on account of your independence because of your link with the others in your family she just won’t give up until you are firm.
    Borrow some balls from PP *running away *

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