NIGERIAN WHILE GAY

NIGERIAN WHILE GAY

Yesterday, I went out with a friend. We had hot dogs and soft drinks. Talked. All the while, this fine brother pranced about. He’d leave his post, checking people’s tickets, walk down the room. Every time I looked up, our eyes would meet.

This brother had the loveliest eyes, tender yet wicked – I-will-do-bad-things-to-you eyes. Pink lips wey go kiss you shege. And the baddest ass. Me, I am a sucker for ass. Not room-and-parlour ass, no. Just big enough, compact.

I said to my friend, “I think that guy is checking me out.” If he hadn’t said “I noticed”, if the brother hadn’t walked to his colleague behind the counter next to our table, looked in our direction, nodded, smiled, I wouldn’t have said, “I will talk to him.”

Last-last, with the encouragement of my friend, I stood up. Walked to the restroom. Had a piss. Washed my hands. Looked in the mirror. I sha fine today oh, I thought. I walked out to where the brother was standing, looking fine as fuck.

It was easy. Brother seemed unsurprised when, after all the hi-ing and hey-ing and washing of heads, I asked for his digits. He took my phone, punched the digits in. He seemed cool, even as I thought: What are the ladies, his colleagues, thinking? Would they ask him, “Wetin that guy dey tell you?” I wished he’d taken the hint when I went to the restroom, I said to my friend as we left the place. The entire exchange could have happened in the absence of their eyes, ever-present, capable of hurt.

But they were women sha. I shrugged. Not that women are nothing – God forbid! But you see, if they had been men, I might not have walked up to that guy because of the violence that bubbles in the bodies of those ones. I told my friend: There are two weapons in the homophobe’s arsenal. One is Shame. The second is Fear. Fear is logical, sometimes. You are looking out for your body because the dangers are out there. The forces, external. So, you devise ways to outsmart your adversary, ways to survive amid so much violence.

With shame, you are battling internal armies. You are vulnerable; everywhere you turn, there is a bomb waiting to destroy you. If I came here tomorrow and the ladies whispered, “See the homo guy from Sunday”, I’d strut on, unruffled, because I am not ashamed.

So fear: Later that evening, on WhatsApp, bursting with excitement, I sent a short message to the brother, saying “I’m the guy from before” and “this is my number” and “hey, let me know when you’re off work so I call you.”

“Tell me what you want exactly,” the brother said. The suddenness of it.

“Are you still at work?” I asked.

Yeah, he said.

And I saw them, clustered around his phone, waiting for the homo to slip up, to admit. “Tell him this, tell him that, lure him.” I heard them. I was paranoid.

I told him I’d call him after work. I did. He didn’t answer.

This morning, we talk briefly on my way to work. On WhatsApp. “About your question yesterday,” I say, “I will call you.”

“No, WhatsApp,” he says.

My head explodes with bells. I see SCREENSHOTS.

Suddenly, I am in the university again, standing outside a popular eatery, surrounded by guys who want my money, my phone. Because their nigga has a voice note where I said, yes, I like dudes, I like him. I am unrelenting. Fuck you, I tell them. Release the voice notes.

I am not ashamed. I am angry, enraged. Enraged and afraid. Because they say their soldier friends are coming and, even though I know soldiers harassing a student on campus is impossible, I cannot shake up the image of my body battered under huge boots.

I walk up to a jeep, to the lecturer behind the steering wheel. “These boys are harassing me,” I say, “and I want them to leave me alone.”

“Did he steal from you?” the lecturer asks them.

“No,” they say. “He’s a homo.”

“Are you?” he asks me.

WTF! “No. I am a pro-LGBT rights writer.”

How can you ask me that question right now? I wonder. I am in danger, man. Make them free me.

The boys are screaming and whispering how they should have lured me to the hostel instead and smashed me to smithereens – like I’d have allowed myself be lured. Like my body isn’t a well of caution. That is the reason I chose this location, fuckers! Here, you can bark but not bite. This space is sanitized. Except, not quite.

The lecturer says, “Gay rights is against our law. These boys could kill you and they’d be right.”

It ends with my rage ballooning and ballooning until I am full of murderous thoughts. These boys, inarticulate, tell me I am arrogant, foolish, see how you cast yourself, guy. They play good-cop, bad-cop. “Find us something.”

Exhausted, I part with my ATM card.

And so, staring at my phone, I think: SCREENSHOTS. Army. Blood. I also think: He might merely be unaware. This is a state, after all, where guys meet online at 9 am and fuck at 9.30 am, a state enmeshed in the serenest obliviousness. Where men hold hands.

But I will not risk it. In the apps, I have hundreds of messages, some spilling onto WhatsApp, but in two years, I have met only two guys. “Why are you posting me?” they ask, and I say, “No time, sorry.” When I decide to meet up, I see myself faced with a mob.

But this brother, I had seen certainty in his eyes, his body, the way it moved. How I would have kissed him, what I would have done to that gorgeous body, that beautiful man. The things we would have said in the aftermath. The days, maybe months, years after.

I want this to be easy. I want to punch someone for making it so damn hard: it would give me so much joy.

Written by Rapum Kambili

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8 Comments

  1. mikkiyfab
    April 24, 11:43 Reply

    I would love to say this it’s actually a beautiful write up with the right amount of articulation no doubt about that but I was kinda lost with the this part

    “But this brother, I had seen certainty in his eyes, his body, the way it moved. How I would have kissed him, what I would have done to that gorgeous body, that beautiful man. The things we would have said in the aftermath. The days, maybe months, years after.

    I want this to be easy. I want to punch someone for making it so damn hard: it would give me so much joy”

    Would really love it if I could be walked through this

  2. NaijaTgal
    April 24, 11:43 Reply

    Sigh… I read this with a very sad heart. It’s indeed very hard being a sexual minority. I have experienced an attack similar to what was described here and the people (the lecturer) you desperately reach out for help will most likely support the mob action.
    The aftermath of such evil is paranoia and depression, which I have managed over time. Just like you they took my phone, ATM card and proceeded to out me to people in my neighborhood…i developed a hatred for men for some time… But now I find it odd that I still find men attractive.

    I prefer to enjoy my own company and I mingle more with the lesbian community, since women provided me with a type of comfort I needed after the attack that the men in my life were incapable of.

    These are real issues you addressed here and I hope you find true happiness in the future.

    Peace and Love!

  3. frank
    April 24, 12:29 Reply

    Been there , still am . They make it so damn hard , even when its clear they’re into me n i them, am at point where i cant sacrifice my pride n area rep, incase things go south, so i stick with niggas in campus am sure of. Even when they get themselves to that point where they admit yhur hot as fuck, i still dnt pursue it, cos have got the rep of other niggas,my friends to worry.
    Respect is more than 15mins ,if da sex is good i guess.

  4. Ikedi Oghenetega
    April 24, 15:34 Reply

    I want it to be easy too😢. The fear of being kitoed /blackmailed is valid. But we cannot stop loving, trying, searching… It’s in our blood 😊.

  5. Pankar
    April 30, 10:10 Reply

    That lecturer though. Disgust

  6. Juliet
    December 04, 12:44 Reply

    I Love gays
    dnt knw y they are hated

  7. NUN CELDRIC
    June 24, 07:12 Reply

    I HATE PEOPLE KITOEING GAYS!IT GIVES ME A LUMP IN MY THROAT! IM A RELIGIOUS AGENT AND BELIEVE THAT ANY1 HAS D RIGHT TO BECOME ANYTHING DEY WANT!08115510343

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