ONE AFTER THE OTHER (A Coming Out Story)

ONE AFTER THE OTHER (A Coming Out Story)

“It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the person who is in the arena.”

This above is an excerpt from one of my favourite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt; I suppose this would be me entering the KD arena by telling a bit of my story.

2019 was certainly a year of firsts for me and a continuation of the growth and self-discovery that was 2018 – like discovering my demisexuality and inner peace, healing from past trauma and working to free myself psychologically. For instance, in 2019, I had penetrative sex for the first time in 11 years and 8 months – yes, I was counting. Yes, it was like the first time all over again. Yes, it was Cloud 9 intense. And no, it wasn’t planned; otherwise I would have seriously downgraded the size option. (But that’s a story for another day.)

However, if you’d told me that coming out to my parents would be one of those firsts, I’d have rolled my eyes and followed it with a “this one is talking nonsense again” look, before laughing at how ridiculous that statement was. I was always of the opinion that the bridge would be crossed when it came – that is, when I get to 40 and they realise I’m still not married. I certainly had no interest in speeding up its arrival.

I’ve always known I am gay; perhaps not a hundred percent, seeing as I flirted with being bisexual in my late teens. But today, I firmly identify as gay (5/6 on the Kinsey Scale); the male species is just too damn delicious any day. I grew up in the South-south of Nigeria, moved to the UK a year after secondary school and spent the next decade in a few cities within England. The first person I came out to was my sister via text in 2008. I sent it just as I was entering the Underground to catch a train home and was surprisingly not that nervous.

On getting to my stop, her reply came in. “OK? Lol, what do you want me to do about it? Am I supposed to overreact and be disappointed? Nothing has changed between us.”

I smiled at this. She called me when I got home, and we had a good long talk about it. And that was that.

This was followed by one of my female Nigerian friends a few weeks later. She exclaimed in pleased surprise: “Ah! No wonder! There’s always been this je ne sais quoi about you, and now it finally makes sense.”

She even began to stand in as my pretend girlfriend any time ladies were on my case and I didn’t know how to turn them down, especially the persistent ones who refused to take no for an answer. (We remain good friends till date. I was at her wedding in Spain earlier this year. Her husband’s best man is Nigerian and gay, and he was at the wedding with his Caucasian boyfriend. What surprised me was that the ceremony was full of Nigerians, and none of them acted weird toward the gay fellow Nigerian who was openly affectionate with another man. On the contrary, everyone was friendly and welcoming. This was surreal to me, but very positive, and I wondered if this would ever be the same for gay Nigerians living in Nigeria.)

Anyway, later in 2008, I wanted to come out to my folks, but my spirit kept on nagging at me to just shut up, pointing out that I’d been spending too much time in the London scene with Brits and forgotten where I come from. I listened to this self-instruction, as coming out at this time would have been for all the wrong reasons. Besides, I had just started a journey to finding myself, to my happiness. Plus I was nowhere near independent; the consequences could have been life altering.

Fast forward to late 2018, and I’d been settled in the Middle East for a few years. I had just finished listening to the audio books, The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. These books had far more impact on me than I’d anticipated; they resonated down to the very fiber of my being and forced me to look inward and re-evaluate. They helped me shed a lot of accumulated shame-based fear, taught me how to tear down the walls and shields I’d built over the years as coping mechanisms, reawakened the courage to be vulnerable and live unapologetically, and most of all, changed how I viewed life. This put me on a level of freedom I’d never experienced. I didn’t realise what these were preparing me for at the time, but it was a very difficult initial few weeks facing self-honesty. However it was worth the effort to free myself.

I flew home in December 2018 for the holidays and spent the entire two weeks in Lagos. Usually, I would go to the South to spend a day or two catching up with friends, but with elections around the corner, I figured I’d stay in Lagos with the siblings who’d all arrived a few days before me, as well as my parents. As the whole family was rarely ever together under the same roof, except during the Christmas and New Year periods, the mood was festive, and there were tons of banter and food, and we spent as much time with each other as we could. My parents were particularly happy as they are near-empty nesters and often look forward to everyone being around. I am my mother’s favourite, even though she never says it. But she could never hide it if she tried. Whilst this came with some perks, as the first child, I was the lab rat amongst my siblings, and because she and I are basically built the same way, we clashed a lot in my teenage years. (By “clashed”, I mean, I was often disciplined for speaking my mind, and in retaliation, I would not talk to her beyond the necessary greetings. Lol. I was that petty, and it often worked.) Eventually it was understood that we are just too similar, and we learnt to respect each other’s boundaries. Our last disagreement was over my choice of an MSc after I ditched the medical field she’d wanted for me, and I decided to take a risk on my dreams. She came around after a few weeks, much to the relief of my father, who was supportive from the onset. And thankfully, that risk has worked out well. This was perhaps nine years ago. Family means everything to me. In my family, we’ve all dodged death’s bullet at some point or the other, fallen flat on our face, messed up, whatever. But we’d always come together every time to pick the one in need up and get them back on their feet. We always stick together; my family members are my closest and most trusted friends and biggest supporters.

This was about to be tested.

January 2019 dawned, and it was time for me and my siblings to start dispersing. I was the first to leave on the second. As is customary in my family, the day before anyone is about to make a departure from home, my father would sit us all down in the living room and give us advice, and we would talk and pray. This time however, on the day before I was supposed to leave, I was called into my parents’ bedroom and told to grab a chair so we can “chat”.

Dad started by thanking me for the things I do for the family, with Mum echoing his sentiments. I said it was nothing, wanting them to get quickly to the point, because I knew what they wanted to talk to me about.

Then Dad said, “So, we were curious to know what your plans are for the next five years and where you see yourself.”

Smiling inwardly, I proceeded to start talking about my career plans, investment plans and what I hoped to achieve in that time frame, including lending more support and taking on more work for those less able in society, and being part of scholarship programs.

Mum was now nodding as she said, “These are very good goals…”

As she said this, she looked at Dad, prompting him to say, “Yes, they are good goals – and admirable too. But, is there nothing else you have in mind?”

“I imagine you’re referring to marriage, yes?” I said.

“No, no,” Dad said. “I wasn’t referring to marriage. But since you’ve brought it up, let’s talk about it.”

So I started on how marriage was not a priority for me and how it was not really something that interested me. At this point, I could see Mum getting perplexed, but she didn’t try to interrupt.

“Marriage is not something that has an expiry date,” I said. “You simply have to look at the divorce rates for my generation versus yours, and you will realize that too many people get married for the wrong reasons, particularly due to unnecessary pressure from your generation. I’m not even sure I want to get married because I don’t believe it is everyone’s destiny to come in to the world, grow up, get a job and then have the marriage package with kids. Some people want more than that and I would like to adopt kids but have little interest in marriage.”

Mum couldn’t hold it anymore and cut in, saying the things she had to say to try to convince me to reconsider my stance. At this, I smiled and nodded, but said that I know what I want. When I said this, Dad agreed, saying that there is not a lot worse for one’s mental health than marrying the wrong person.

“Sure, marriage isn’t for everyone, but try to keep an open mind about it, son,” he finished.

We conversed about a few more things for about an hour, and a lot more advice was given as we drew close to the end of our talk.

Then as I said “Thank you” to them for their time, I said something else. (I’m still not sure why I did.)

“There’s also something important that I would like to talk to you about later in the year when I’m back home and in the emotional state of mind to do so,” I said.

They both looked at me, unsure how to react to this introduction of suspense.

It was Dad to spoke. “Hmm ok, no problem,” he said. “The door is always open to all of you and we’ll listen first, then offer advice based on our experience and knowledge. I definitely don’t know everything and it will be up to you guys as adults to heed the advice or not.”

After that, we prayed and then I left the room, deep in thought, wondering if I would be brave enough to talk to them about what I had in mind to say. Eventually, I shrugged off my apprehension and went back to sleep. I was feeling unusually optimistic about 2019 and set off early the next morning to the airport for the 8-hour flight back home.

It was the last week of January, and I was on the phone with Mum (as we usually were almost every weekend), gisting, with her giving me updates on extended family gossip. As the conversation drew to a close and I bid her farewell, I noticed she was hesitant about ending the call, so I asked her what was on her mind.

“Nothing o,” she said, “nothing serious at least.”

“Mummy, could you please talk?” I said with some exasperation. “It’s getting late here and I need to get ready for bed.”

“Okay, okay,” she said. “Well it’s about what you said you’d talk to me and your father about when you are ready.”

“What about it?” I asked. “That was like three weeks ago, and I won’t be back till June.”

“Nothing o, just checking that you’re okay and everything is well.”

“Yes, mummy, everything is well.”

“Hmmm, okay o, if you say so. Because you said it was important.”

I was slightly irritated now. “Mummy, please get to the point.”

“Okay. It’s just… I wanted to know what it is you want to talk to us about. What is wrong? Are you depressed?”

“What? No!” I was startled. “No, I’m not. Why do you think that?”

“Then what is it?”

At this, my heart started racing and I had to take a deep steadying breath. This was it. I wasn’t ready and here it was.

“Yes, I was once depressed,” I said, “and it was a long time ago. But it’s linked to what I want to talk to you about later on. But since you want to hear this, I would suggest you take a seat, as it will be a while.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Written by Black Dynasty

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18 Comments

  1. Astar
    March 15, 07:37 Reply

    No patience brother, come back and finish this story. 😀

    Your father is very open minded. I don’t expect anything to change between you two. As for your Mom, she might insist on holding your child. You might hear something like, “just get a girl pregnant, I’m here, I will raise the baby.” 😄

  2. slender
    March 15, 08:49 Reply

    make sure to hasten the concluding part(s), we all cant wait.

  3. Mandy
    March 15, 09:18 Reply

    This unplanned coming out to your mother be looking like it won’t go down well. Lol.
    I hope this story has a happy ending o. I mean, of course it will. You live sufficiently far away from your family. And that, I think, is the advantage us gay people should have when thinking of coming out. Be at a place of such distance and independence, a place where your family have the most minimal of control over you that they will see that they have no choice but to at least tolerate who you are.

    • Black Dynasty
      March 15, 09:28 Reply

      Agreed.

      It should be a prerequisite if possible to be fully independent financially and living situation wise before coming out….so even if the response is negative, the consequences will be minimal and limited to primarily the emotional aspect.

  4. Delle
    March 15, 09:23 Reply

    *grabs a bowl of popcorn, pulls a chair close and plops down*

  5. Rudy
    March 15, 13:22 Reply

    I admire your courage and I like where this is going.
    Will definitely check up on the audio books you mentioned.
    My fingers are crossed waiting for the next chapter 😃

    • Black Dynasty
      March 16, 09:03 Reply

      Thanks Rudy, those books were awesome and i can definitely recommend a few more

      • Rudy
        March 16, 12:33 Reply

        Please do, it will go a long way for a lot of people struggling to heal from internalised shame and homophobia. Thank you Black Dynasty.
        Waiting for the list👌🏾

  6. Petey
    March 15, 15:38 Reply

    This was fun to read; waiting on the concluding part.

  7. Mr Success
    March 16, 12:40 Reply

    My own personal person, you finally took the bold steps…… Awwwwwww I’m coming to your WhatsApp. Daddy has always been a Pilar of support anytime any day, mom too. Again I first and second motion the view for one to be independent and away from folks before coming out. I will explain more when I tell my own story.

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