LIVING A LIE

LIVING A LIE

My sister found my queer twitter in 2014 (a story that I told HERE) and it’s been a really crazy-ass journey since then. I lost the opportunity to study in Ghana because she outed me to my parents, and so, I had to settle for a Nigerian school. I wasn’t very fortunate with getting into the university; I applied to get into Unilag twice and didn’t pass the Post-UME. So, I had to settle for Yabatech.

In the first semester, I was a day student, partly because my house wasn’t far from the school and majorly because my mother didn’t trust me to be away at school. According to her, she didn’t want “people to take advantage of” me, because not only had I been outed as a homosexual to them (even though I had to work really hard to convince them that I had repented), but I was also effeminate.

I had to settle for a lot of shit just because I didn’t want to disappoint my mother or make her cry or feed her suspicions that I might still be gay.

Let’s just say that this state of affairs made me develop internalized homophobia as I could no longer stand gay people. I’d proceeded to associate myself with everybody but my kind. There wasn’t that robust or apparent a community of gay people in campus, but the few I could tell was gay, I maintained a distance from. I didn’t want anyone, especially my coursemates, to talk on my sexuality because I’d gotten kind of famous in my department. Being femme made it an uphill battle, but I did everything I could to discourage any speculation that I could be homosexual as well.

By the second semester, I was able to convince my mother to let me stay in the hostel. Getting thrust into the world of testosterone tested my resolve to stay deeply closeted. The common room of my hostel was an especial breeding ground for boys and their different odours. I’d swallow saliva in a desperate attempt to hold on to my restraint every time I saw guys walk about with heavy dick-prints, some of them even un-self-conscious enough to move about with their naked dicks dangling up and down. Using the bathroom was such a Jesus-in-the-wilderness temptation, because all these naked guys were everywhere, no one bothering to cover up or be self conscious about their nudity.

Come on, Willy Wonka!

It was proving to be too much for me, that I questioned the wisdom of making my mother agree to let me stay in the hostel.

I held down my homosexuality and carried on, developing a popularity as I made friends and became a part of cliques. I would go on to contest for an election in school and soon became the first social director from OND. This history that I made earned me ten times the attention I used to get, which may have been good for my reputation in school, but even further threatened the fear I was living with as a closeted homosexual. If I was more masculine-presenting, I would not have felt so threatened, but I was femme, and I hated that I could not hide it as well as I hid my sexuality.

I began to get suffocated. I needed air. And I took a healthy dose of it when I eventually came out to my best friend in school, Idris. Idris didn’t act surprised; in fact, he said he’d suspected all along but that he doesn’t care. Idris may have been supportive, but his unsurprised reaction had me questioning and hating myself some more for being femme. He went on to caution me to be careful, and to “do my stuff” anywhere but in school to avoid “casting”.

Yes, despite my internalised homophobia and closeted nature, I was still getting laid. But everything I did stayed strictly out of the school environment, because I feared that any hookups in school would result in a blackmail situation. I absolutely do not even use Grindr.

In order to further impress in these people that I couldn’t be gay, I also talked trash about gay people. In fact, in my first week as a hostel boarder, I was in the common room where a group of guys were discussing Bobrisky and castigating her celebrity. When someone asked for my take on the subject, with a heart pounding ferociously behind my ribcage, I pretended to have the same disgust they felt and heaped venom on Bobrisky. This was the first time I was put in a situation to weigh in publicly on the LGBTQ community, and it made me sick that I was a coward about it.

Especially when it would go on to be apparent to me that there were those who were brave and courageous about who they were: everything I couldn’t be.

There was this very effeminate guy in my department, a level above me, named Emmanuel. Emmanuel was a mood: confident and a whole-ass diva. He was very fashionable, favouring typically feminine and genderqueer fashion choices over more masculine-presenting clothes. You could tell that he was gay as fuck, and very unapologetic about it. I was part of a meeting in the exco’s office, when Emmanuel sauntered past. Predictably, his presence, fleeting as it was, immediately had some people in the room talking about him. I was startled by how we went from talking about student issues to this proud homosexual named Emmanuel. I couldn’t say a thing, certainly not in defense of him. In my head, I was going like: this guy is happy and expresses himself the way he wants to, and he doesn’t care and boldly lives as though he is shaking off all the negativity besieging him in school. I envied him his freedom and felt arrested in my cowardice, as I couldn’t defend him. Instead, I sat there and kiki-ed with these homophobic people, all the while feeling sick inside me that I wasn’t sticking up for him.

This happened in 2017 or so. Fast forward to 2019, and I was outed again by my best friend at home. (This was also narrated in the story, Out And Out Again.) At this time, I was working in fashion – ironic, I know; considering all the time I spent distancing myself from the gay community, I still found myself working in the one industry that breeds gay men. But upon graduation, I had started to gradually come into my own as a gay man. Separated from the toxicity of school and the constantly overhanging fear of being outed as a gay public figure, I could finally start breathing. I had even started making queer friends and things were getting better for me. I was learning to accept myself.

And then, the whole mess with my friend happened, and I was sent once again in a tail spin of fear and regrets. The situation broke my mother’s trust and the talk about my sexuality became a thing once again in my family. I was more grown now; they couldn’t ground me or any of that stuff. But the situation was still unbearable, in that my mother often questioned everything I did outside the house. I’d be about to head out to my business, and she’d make some snide comment about how I was probably being up to something gay or going out to get fucked by a guy. This always broke me.

My mother is very important to me. I get my joy from her happiness. She has this influence over me where whatever she wants, I endeavour to do just to please her. And the disappointment I knew she was feeling over me being gay was something I could not bear.

But the difference between my reaction to the situation in 2019 and in 2014 was that I was no longer willing to give up who I am for her. I could tone down my sexuality, swear up and down that I was no longer gay, but I found other ways to keep living instead of shunning my homosexuality.

Whenever I see queer people live their true selves, I get jealous and wish I was more like them. I’d wish I was as expressive as they are, that I could own my sexuality and just fuck what other people think. I feel like whenever I take four steps into being more of who I am, I’d just think about my mother and what she would say, and this would bother me so much, I’d take two steps back.

I sometimes think about how different things would be if I wasn’t in Nigeria or staying at home under the same roof as her. I think about how free I’d be if I’d, for instance, gotten that opportunity to study in Ghana. I think about moving out and staying on my own, but I haven’t gotten that financially independent yet. Some days, I feel very low because I am not living as I should. I have to shrink myself so much that on some days, I feel myself disappearing altogether.

I often do not know what to do or how to feel about my life.

Anxiety attacks me at every turn and I do not know what to do about it.

I am really rooting for myself to one day break free and be happy and confident in who I am.

I may not know how to deal with my life, but I reasoned that I could at least write about it for Kito Diaries, with the hope that it would make me feel better just to get it out. And I do. I do feel better. I feel better that even if I cannot help myself, there may be someone out there who’d read this and be encouraged to be to themself what I cannot be to myself.

To this person, I say: “Be You and love yourself.”

Written by Sammy

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  1. T-man
    July 19, 17:32 Reply

    This is so poignant, Sammy! If anything, you can be certain you’re not alone in this struggle; your experiences only make you more resolute.

    I’d keep rooting for you from here.

    Meanwhile, I stay close to Yabatech so if you feel like hanging anytime, I’m game. Just indicate and I’d drop my mail.

  2. Black Dynasty
    July 19, 19:23 Reply

    Growth, however seemingly slow is always a good thing; acknowledge how far you’ve come thus far.

    Rooting for you as well on your journey

  3. O.B
    July 20, 01:55 Reply

    Sometimes, you have to choose between your parents and yourself. Choose yourself, Sammy.

    If your mom truly loves you, she’ll have a rethink someday. Let her know that you love her, however you only have one life to live, and you choose not to be unhappy in that life.

    It’s 2021. Self expression is promoted everywhere, and it’s a privilege. Women, and the LGBTQIA community are in a progression of self expression that gets better and better every day.
    Take advantage of it. Liiiiive!!!!
    You’re surviving currently. Cut those bonds, and just live.
    Do it for yourself. You matter.

  4. Bliss
    July 20, 15:04 Reply

    You are not alone.. I feel same way, the anxiety, lying, depression, always suppressing my emotion or feelings.
    And the worst path is i just finished my final exam and all the would ask is you studied for 5years and we haven’t seen you girlfriend..
    And everytime all i could think of is how to shut tis feeling off, but we can’t.

    Reading your experience Sammy, i Know am not alone too

  5. Hezek
    July 21, 18:14 Reply

    So touching!
    You will be fine, just know u are never alone. I have same issues “anxiety” but I feel much better when I read this stories. Thanks Kdians

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