The First Time I Was Called Homo

The First Time I Was Called Homo

As a child, I was very effeminate. I acted a lot like a girl. My behind swayed as I walked, and gesticulating with limp-wristed hands while talking was the most involuntary thing for me. People called me such names like “Omekanwanyi”, “boy-girl”, “Adanne”, and about every other female name a boy would not want to be called.

I also had a doll. It was a secret. No one saw the doll. I named her Diana, the name I would’ve loved to be called if I were a girl. I plaited her hair, made her up and gave her girl advice. She was my daughter and my girlfriend. I loved Diana, but I was ashamed of her. The embarrassment of anyone finding out I owned a doll frightened me. “Boys ride bicycles and play football. They don’t own dolls!” I would tell myself. And then, I would smack Diana on the floor and curse her, angry with her, angry with myself that I owned her.

I hated that I behaved like a girl. I would’ve done anything to stop. I did a lot actually. I prayed and fasted; I was a religious kid. And each time I read 1 Corinthians 6:9, I cried. There, the scripture clearly told me that I was hell-bound. It said no effeminate person would inherit the kingdom of God. I was a little boy, I hadn’t committed any crime, but somehow the devil already owned me. I believed it. I would imagine myself burning in this big lake of fire and Satan laughing as I burned and cried. Nothing was more frightful than this.

And as a Mormon boy, I had the duty of preparing myself to receive the priesthood at a certain age. How could I receive the priesthood when I was effeminate?

My first term as a high school boy was difficult. My father died that year; I was 13 years old. That first term was the first time I was called “Homo”, by a senior student. I cringed when the name hit me. I didn’t fully understand what it meant, but I instinctively knew it had something to do with me being girly. I was thoroughly bothered by it, and I wanted to ask somebody what “Homo” means.

I would have asked my father; he was a man of books. He knew the meaning of every English word. But he was dead. So I had to ask my mother. What did she even know though? She was just a groundnut seller, I thought.

Yet I asked her. She called the full name – “Homosexual”. “A man who is married to another man,” she said.

I was afraid she would ask me why I asked, because I was too embarrassed to tell her someone called me that at school. She didn’t ask.

And so “Omekanwanyi” and “boy-girl” and “Adanne” were past. I now had a new name, the most frightening of them all. I had to fight it. And the only way I thought I could fight it was with weed. I started smoking Marijuana with boys in the ghetto. It worked. I was shedding the girl in me, becoming more macho. I continued till the day I nearly ran mad. Actually, I did run mad that day.

So I had become “manly”, and the boys allowed me into their circle. It was a victory.

This is only one of the ways the many boy-girls in our society join the male circle. I have a friend who’s a weight lifter. He said he became a weight lifter because he was effeminate. A soldier friend told me the same. I want to write a book about us former boy-girls and call the book “Cooked Boys”. Cooked in harsh fires. Cooked into boy-boys.

As an adult – in as much as I am no longer effeminate, except when I purposely want to be dramatic – there are moments I act effeminate without knowing it. It’s funny that when this happens, it startles me, and in that moment, I become very self-conscious.

“Let the girl be. She follows you everywhere, silenced but still there.” Something encourages inside me. But no, that must be Satan’s voice.

In 2013, when I told my mother some important things about me, she said, “I know. I have always known. When you asked me the meaning of Homo all those years ago, I knew why you asked, but I didn’t know what to tell you.”

I can only tell this story, but I can’t make anyone feel the way I felt as a growing child. It was not a good feeling. I mutilated myself severally. Being a church boy made it worse.

For all the kids who have questions, and the parents that do not know the answers, may you find your way out of these questions. And may these questions not break you.

No innocent child should ever have to cry and feel guilty over who they are. Religious and secular institutions must rise to end this shame they instigate in children with their doctrines and cultures.

May our children be raised to enjoy the pride of their selfness. Their unique differences should strengthen them, not threaten them.

Written by Felix Kalu

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  1. Dunamis c
    June 10, 06:53 Reply

    I remember back then in JS 1… I had this classmate who was very “girlie” n during a physical education class which was on the Badminton court boys were asked to gather one side n girls one side… Then he joined the girls on the underside… Our P.E teacher gave him the beatings of his life… She retorted “I don’t know if you want to be a homosexual” that was my first time of hearing the word… This left the boy withdrawn n a shadow of his always happy self.

  2. Black Dynasty
    June 10, 07:39 Reply

    *Cooked boys* I can definitely relate. I finished sec school in 2003 so quite a while ago.
    Homo wasn’t used heavily in naij at the time, but I remember the first time a similat word was used, it hurt and it stuck. Making me self conscious, definitely made me stop doing activities (drama club, french club, choir, home econs club etc) i used to enjoy for fear of being seen as less than the “man” I was supposed to be.
    I wish I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have given a damn and lived life to the best of my ability with no fear.

  3. T
    June 10, 08:40 Reply

    This piece is literally describing my entire life as a child
    No one should have to be scared of being who they are effeminate or not

  4. Delle
    June 10, 12:24 Reply

    You’ll need that book, Cooked Boys, signed by one who knew he was effeminate as a child and never felt any compulsion to change.

    You’ll need that book signed by me.?

    • Bee
      June 13, 17:10 Reply

      Muah. Their looks and [sometimes] words discomforted me, no doubt, but I never felt like changing.

  5. Omiete
    June 10, 12:25 Reply

    Amen!!! What a good read for a Sunday. I was called the same names growing up even till now. There were also times I tried to be manly but I couldn’t fake it for so long. How I survived childhood it’s just God. There is a small boy in my compound who is very I touch with his feminine side. He lives catwalking and loves been on heels and I am very scared for him and at the same time j am happy he is born at this time. Most of us had to deal with our feelings by ourselves, suffered at the hands of boys we taught cared for us. Now no one has to go through this alone that’s why I feel that we can never have too much lgbt representation on tv.

  6. Poiter
    June 10, 14:52 Reply

    Amen! Thanks dear, our day will surely come.

  7. Dunder
    June 10, 19:36 Reply

    I was that kid that felt betrayed every time I got a doll as a present- yes, I could manage a teddy but it was obvious I wanted the robots, guns, cars and baseball bats my brothers got. I couldn’t even deal with the sewing/knitting clique in the church’s talent training. I focused on my clay work and was celebrated and encouraged by the guy who tutored us and a teacher who was just like me but we all grow up…

    When those years came, I wanted to kiss my friends who wanted to kiss boys… I wanted to play with and fight with the boys who wanted to kiss me… I noticed the world looking and my holy lord was throwing a heavenly fit. It didn’t matter how much I studied my Bible, loved my neighbor or kept a clean conscience. It was my job to solve a problem he created and his job to take the glory in the end. I summoned courage and began seeking answers to questions and accepting the answers I already knew. Today, I don’t look unto the hills for my help- I realize I’ve always been fine.

    If you are in those formative years, realize that the truth always wins. The only way to win without the needless bruising and bleeding is not to fight it. Yes, spare your neck the madman’s noose but to yourself, don’t deny the truth. Different is not dangerous. Uncommon is not abnormal. If you are out of those years, stop wasting precious time getting tortured by truth in a fixed fight. You can’t run and you can’t hide you can only win with truth on your side. Give up the lie and accept what yiur truth that holds in it: your freedom and victory. This was serious Sunday stuff.

  8. Jerade
    June 11, 01:58 Reply

    This took me back to when I hated myself with very nerve in my body, I always wondered why I just couldn’t be masculine like my brother. It hurts though, I tired blending and becoming masculine but it never worked. But hell,I’m glad that I came this far.
    To think I almost committed suicide at some point.

  9. Peaches
    June 11, 12:01 Reply

    Could not be told any other way, Felix, bravo!. This is magnificent with glitters on top.

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