I noticed him in church when we made eye contact. He was the saxophonist and before that Sunday, he’d always been just another church worker to me. But that morning, as I ushered worshippers to their seats, I glanced in the direction of the church band’s section, and our gazes connected. He was looking at me, and the intensity of it telegraphed something to me. I turned away to attend to yet another church member. When I looked back at him, he was still staring at me. This time, I made a small waving gesture, to which he responded by lighting up and waving excitedly back.

I had never paid much attention to him before, but on that day, as the service progressed, I observed him with sidelong glances. He was dark-skinned and slenderly-built, with a chiseled face that makes you think of a sculpture. He was fairly attractive, and in that way of a homosexual, I began to wonder if his stares meant anything noteworthy.

At the end of the service, as the protocol staff guided church members to the stairwells, I saw him walking purposefully toward me.

“Hello, JBoy,” he greeted when he got to me.

“Hi, Shola,” I responded.

We exchanged pleasantries and had a brief conversation that ended with the exchange of numbers.

My acquaintanceship with Shola developed quickly after that. We chatted non-stop on WhatsApp and talked on the phone often. He was warm and doting, often giving off the vibe that I was the only thing that mattered to him every time we chatted. Naturally, I started developing feelings for him, but I was careful to keep them in check; we hadn’t had any conversation that informed me of his sexual preferences.

Then one day, out of nowhere, in the middle of a chatversation, he said, with a casualness that was too deliberate to be genuine: “You know, I care about you, Jay.”

I paused, my mind turning into a pandemonium of thoughts. What does this mean? Is he trying to tell me he likes me, LIKES ME? Is he gay? What am I supposed to do with this? Is this the green light I’ve been waiting for all this time? What do I do? Should I even do anything at all? What do I do?

Tell him you like him too.

But he didn’t say he likes me.

No, he said he cares about you – which is even deeper. Seize this chance! Tell him you like him!

“I like you, Shola,” I found myself saying. “I really like you.” It was as though a tap had been turned on, releasing the restraint on the torrents of feelings I’d had stowed away in a dam. I told him how much I desired him, how I’d been holding my feelings back because I didn’t want to ruin our budding friendship.

There was a pause after my effusive response, and then he said, “It’s nice. But, well, shey you know we cannot date – I mean, considering the fact that we are both workers in the church and…well, other things.”

I was mildly started. That was quite a leap from the declaration of feelings to the subject of dating. I felt a slight spurt of irritation; I hadn’t asked him to be my boyfriend, and he was already saying no? And what were these “other things” that would hinder a relationship between us? I wondered if perhaps he was one of those deeply-closeted church types who are still on their journey to self-acceptance. Was it a good idea to get emotionally-entangled with someone like that? Was this a red flag? Was it too soon for me to be seeing red flags?

“You know what?” he said. “Let us see, and then we’ll talk. I feel like we should be face to face to talk about this.”

The red flag vanished.

That flicker of apprehension was snuffed out.

I was back to wanting him.

“Sure, of course, you’re right,” I replied.

In the following days, the new terrain of our relationship ratcheted up the intensity of our interactions. The chats became erotically charged and the language was flowery, loving almost. We basically worked ourselves into a sexual tension that desperately needed to be released.

So yeah, we no longer wanted to see so we could talk.

We needed to see so we could fuck!

We fixed an appointment.

He cancelled when the time came.

We fixed another date.

He cancelled again.

He disappointed me two more times, every time pulling out of our date on the day he was supposed to come over, always with no excuse to explain away his behavior.

After the fourth cancellation, my pride kicked in and I was done.

I have a history of emotionally-abusive relationships with men that began to make me wary of committing to whatever this situation was with Shola, so much so that I began to withdraw. I stopped chatting him up, and whenever he hit me up, I’d respond in monosyllables. Even at church, I suddenly became too busy to spare any attention to him. His behavior triggered my trauma, and I was running very hard in the other direction.

It didn’t take long for him to get the message, and he too began to keep his distance from me.

About a week after our disconnection passed, and then one Sunday, before service, my pastor approached me and told me he would like to see me. I figured he wanted to give me a protocol assignment, so I went to his office after service. He was preoccupied with church affairs, and told me he didn’t mean for us to talk in church, that I should come over to his house later in the evening. Pastor Seyi was a very personable man, the type of leader who has close relationships with those that work for and with him. Informal meetings at his house were routine, and so, I didn’t think much of the invitation.

It was a late lunch. His wife was present. I had a familiarity with the couple, and lunch was great and pleasant. Thereafter, Pastor Seyi, now dressed in casual clothes, told me to go out for a walk with him.

We stepped out into the evening atmosphere and started on a stroll down the relatively calm street of his stately neighbourhood.

He didn’t waste any time.

“Do you know Shola?” he asked.

I blinked, absolutely not expecting this query. Without knowing why, my heart began a loud tattoo in my chest.

“Who?” I asked, trying to buy some time to marshal my defenses, even though I didn’t know what I was defending myself against.

“Shola…he’s in the choir.”

“Oh, the saxophonist,” I said, as though comprehension had suddenly dawned on me.

“Yes, him. What are your dealings with him?” Pastor Seyi’s expression had become grim, his eyes searching as he turned his face to me.

My heartbeat had picked up such a rapid pace, I felt like anyone could hear the sound.

“I don’t understand,” I said. “Could you be more direct, sir?”

He paused, let out a sigh, and then took the plunge.

“JBoy, are you gay?”

Something curious happened to me within the microsecond that elapsed between him asking that question and the time I was expected to answer: my heartbeat began to dull, its franticness receding and leaving behind a resolve I didn’t know I would possess in a circumstance where the topic of my sexuality was in the open.

Even the chuckle I let out just then seemed alien, like, how can you possibly be expressing any form of levity when your pastor – YOUR PASTOR – has just asked you if you’re a homo?

“Oh, I get it now,” I found myself saying. “He told you about that, did he?”

“I asked you a question,” Pastor Seyi snapped. “Are you gay?”

“Yes, I am,” I said stonily.

He drew back, the expression on his face betraying how much he hadn’t expected to hear my affirmation.

“You’re gay?”

“Yes, I am, Pastor.”

He blinked a few times, as though he’d been knocked off course and was now trying to regain possession of the lead in this discussion.

“Why Shola?” he finally asked, his expression back to being stern. “Why the church? Is that how you go about propositioning men everywhere without any reservation?”

I bristled. What the fuck!

“What exactly did Shola tell you?” I asked, trying not to show my annoyance.

“He came to my office about a week ago and reported that you’d been disturbing him with unwelcome attention.”

“He what! That is such a lie!” The words couldn’t come out fast enough as I earnestly narrated everything that transpired between me and Shola. I held nothing back. I watched the incredulity mount on Pastor Seyi’s face as I went from chapter to chapter of my interaction with Shola.

“So you mean to tell me he encouraged and accommodated this thing between the two of you?”


“Why would he then come to report you to me?”

“Maybe he couldn’t deal with his internalized homophobia, so he decided to victimize me. Or maybe he resented how I pulled away from him. Or maybe this was his intention all along, to string me along just to expose me.” I began to feel a burning hate for Shola as I gave words to the thought that he might have been playing me all this time.

Pastor Seyi let out another sigh. Our footfalls thudded on the tarred road as we strolled on. A car drove past us, the driver tooting his horn in greeting to the pastor, who waved back in response.

“How did this happen to you?” he asked.

“How did what happen to me?”

“This.” He gestured at me. “You know…”

“How did I become gay?”


“I was born this way.”

He winced. “Are you sure? You weren’t abused when you were a child?”


“You told me you grew up catholic. So you weren’t molested by any priest?”

I wanted to laugh. Sex with priests… If only you know, pastor.

“No, I wasn’t,” I replied. “I wasn’t abused or molested. Although my first sexual encounter with a man was rape.”

“That’s terrible. These people are terrible.”

These people?” I chuckled. “Pastor, I am one of these people. I wasn’t raped by that man because he’s gay. I was raped by him because he’s a bad person.”

He was nodding, as though accepting the illumination I’d just given him. “I understand. And you’re right, because you’re such a good person…”

That seemed like an unfinished statement.

“Except that I am gay?” I supplied.

“No, no, not that,” he hastened to say. “It’s just… I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you to be this way and be living in our society and be part of Christendom. Do you pray about it?”



“Because there’s nothing to pray about.”

“Well, I’ll be praying for you.”

“No, please, don’t do that. Pray for my success. Pray for my upward mobility. Pray for anything that’ll favour me. But do not waste your time praying for me about this.”

There was more silence. He seemed deep in thought. In contrast, I felt relaxed, absolutely unburdened by the tension I felt when this discussion started.

“Is this the reason you’re not married?” he asked.

“You could say that. I want to have children of my own one day. But I do not want to wed an unsuspecting woman to make that happen.”

“Have you ever had romantic feelings for any woman?”

“No. I am gay, sir, not bisexual.” I smiled to take the sting out of what might be misconstrued as a rebuke.

He caught the humour and laughed.

“Are you okay?” he asked, avuncular concern clouding his features.

“Yes,” I said. “For sure, it is hard being who I am. But I wake up every day determined to live for the present. And to live it to the fullest, as much as I can.”

He nodded and smiled. “You know I love you, right?”

My eyes became misty. I blinked rapidly. “Yes, I know. And I love you and your family, sir.”

He lifted a hand to pat me on my shoulder. “Try to avoid people like Shola. Stay safe. And I’ll be praying for you. I know, I know,” he interjected when I opened my mouth to object. “I won’t be praying about this. You said for me to pray for anything that will favour you, and that’s what I will pray for.”

I nodded, overwhelmed with emotion over my pastor’s kindness.

As twilight came upon us, we returned to his house. And after a brief stay, I took my leave.


Did someone ask, “What about Shola?”

Well, I never spoke to him. But he must have been paying attention to me – noticing how I was still a beloved member of the church; how I was still a protocol staff, going about my duties in church; how I still had a good rapport with Pastor Seyi; how I hadn’t been publicly reprimanded or scandalized by the judgment of the altar.

He must have noticed that his attempt to out me to the church’s highest authority had made no difference. Because, one day, a few weeks thereafter, he was gone. No longer a saxophonist in the choir. No longer a member of the church. Just gone from the church, never to be seen by me again.

Written by JBoy

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  1. Loki
    May 09, 08:51 Reply

    Wow, if only most Nigerian Pastors could be like your’s Jboy, if only… . And for Shola, well it’s a good thing this wasn’t me sha. First off I will find him and exact my pound of flesh. If he is still alive well, glory be to Jesus. The bastard!!! Letting him go puts another innocent gay man at risk in the new church. Whats to say it wouldn’t be the budding teenager who admires him so much and can’t control himself the way you could? What happens then when that pastor is not as understanding of humanity as yours? That guy needs to be taught a lesson. For real!

  2. Essence
    May 09, 09:51 Reply

    While reading the story, I laughed, my mouth was wide open at some instances and I nodded at the choice of words. But I was struck by these words: it is hard being who I am.

  3. green sceptre
    May 09, 10:21 Reply

    So refreshing. Reminds me of what happened while I was in Uni. Would share the story

  4. Alexander Dare
    May 09, 15:01 Reply

    What a perfect ending to a miserable beginning!
    I simply detest people who think making other people ‘look bad’ will ever elevate their status.

    Whatever his motives…I’m glad it ended for him in shame.

    I just wish people can be more accepting. Regardless it’s not a hetero-homo competition. And I love how you handled yourself with the pastor Jboy!

    I have nothing to prove or define to anyone. ❤️❤️

  5. Someone's Someone
    May 09, 21:37 Reply

    This had a pleasant ending, thank goodness!
    I was already petrified after reading where Pastor Seyi asked if you were gay. Shola will not see anything good come out of his life. Such a wicked cretin!

  6. Opaque
    May 09, 23:18 Reply

    Pray for my success… But don’t waste your time in praying about this, hits directly to the heart it just gives me the joy that the recent generation is seeing the truth about themselves and not relying on some fallacious stereotypes.

  7. Samadora
    May 09, 23:21 Reply

    Shall we raise 🍷 glasses to this beautiful ending please 🤭🤭🤭

      • Bigbujiee
        June 11, 22:51 Reply

        It’s my first time saying something here and I’m so glad I am. Pink panther thank you for this platform, you don’t know how much healing and peace I get here. I’m been recommending my teenager friends here too, there’s more to life than having sex with random people

  8. Mannie
    May 11, 09:36 Reply

    Phewwwwwww…..what’s the name of your church? I need to worship there on Sunday.

  9. Joani
    May 11, 14:02 Reply

    Thanks for the nice write up Jboy. I wish every church leader is like Pastor Sey, and as for Shola, der are many people like him in the church o.

  10. Mikey
    May 19, 08:49 Reply

    I guess this is what about Jboy, so daring, bold and straight forward

  11. Priest
    June 08, 21:55 Reply

    First of all, please did this REALLY happen? Because if it did, hmmmmmm!

    This church thing scares me abeg, it now seems having a thing with another brother in church is even more stressful than another guy from a different faith.

    Omo my church has been dragging and attacking the community lately. I’m even more sad that members of our community unwittingly arm them with the information.

    • Pink Panther
      June 11, 10:47 Reply

      What do you mean by “unwittingly arm them with the information”?

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