What Do You Do When You’re Tired Of Being A Secret?

What Do You Do When You’re Tired Of Being A Secret?

A question that frequently comes up during conversations in queer spaces is this: Would you tell your sister if you found out that she was dating or getting married to a gay man?

Answers to this question usually vary, with different conditions attached to how the responder will react to such a situation. There are those who, no matter what, would not think their sister’s relationships should be their business, while others would give the gay man an ultimatum: tell her or I will. There are yet those who would consider if their sister is homophobic and as such, deserves the karmic irony of being with a gay man, and some others who would have absolutely no qualms about going ahead to seduce the said sister’s lover.

In the movie, The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, this question takes on a whole new look: What if you’re out and the man you love is sleeping with your sister (or in this case, your best friend), and you’re feeling guilty about that and also no longer interested in keeping your relationship with him a secret – what would you do?

I’d just like to point out that if you’ve not seen this film, here is your spoiler alert.

The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, a movie written by Stanley Kalu, is a story that tackles two weighty subjects: police brutality and LGBTQ acceptance. The titular character (played by Steven Silver) is a gay, upper-middle-class Nigerian-American teenager trapped in a time loop of his own murder at the hands of the police. On May 28, 2020, Tunde keeps dying over and over through racially-motivated police brutality, and with each new awakening, he has to go through the day dealing with being in love with the school jock, Soren O’Connor (played by Spencer Neville), who he’s carrying on a secret relationship with, whereas to the public, Soren belongs to Tunde’s bestie, Marley Meyers (played by Nicola Peltz). It’s a love triangle that makes Marley the unsuspecting participant and has Tunde feeling resentful, especially when he has to watch Soren be publicly amorous with Marley, while reserving his same-sex affections for Tunde for places where no one can see them.

The switch between high school drama and systemic oppression is jolting and can be quite overwhelming for the viewer, especially given how violently Tunde’s life ends repeatedly. A film review published by The Hollywood Reporter goes: “It becomes increasingly jarring each time Tunde’s next death inevitably approaches. In the blink of an eye, he goes from being an everyday teenager who smokes joints, bumps hip-hop in the car and has dating troubles to somehow being an absolute threat in the eyes of the police officers that shoot him dead.”

Tunde finds himself living two realities that are somehow both demonized by the society he lives in. during a session with his therapist, he confesses: “I’m Black and gay. And even those two hate each other – which means, in the eyes of humanity, I’m like two degrees off human: something to be feared and laughed at like this curiosity in the corner.”

This is the consciousness that Tunde increasingly wakes up with after each death. Initially, he reawakens into a new same day with absolutely no recollections of what happened in the former life he’s lived, but that complacency begins to get fractured the more times he dies. He starts to carry over bits of memories from his previous lives, an awareness that not only distresses him but causes him to take drastic steps to reclaim his life and somehow alter the end he has come to know is coming.

One of those desperate moments is when he decides to stop waiting for Soren to do the right thing and chooses instead to tell Marley the truth: that Soren is gay and in love with him, not her.

It is often preached in the queer community that coming out is a person’s prerogative, that no one should – especially within the same community – should out another person if they’re not ready to be out. And for awhile, I struggled with empathizing with what Tunde over what he felt he had to do.

But there’s a caveat for this rule: some people believe that one can be outed if they are using their perceived heterosexuality to perpetuate harm on the gay community. If such a caveat exists, could it also apply here? Could Tunde be forgiven for telling Marley the truth because he found himself in a unique circumstance where only the truth could save both him and Soren?

What would you do if you’re out and the person you love is sleeping with someone you care about, and you’re feeling guilty about that and also are no longer interested in keeping your relationship with them a secret?

It is common knowledge within the Nigerian LGBTQ community that there are those, however out they may be, who are carrying on with relationships in secret with partners who are more closeted than them. Heck, some of these relationships even involve partners who are married to opposite sex spouses. It is especially our burden in this society to accommodate the partner who can only be with us in secret. We understand it. We make excuses for it. We bear the burden of it.

But do you imagine that a situation would ever come when you’d find yourself in a circumstance like this, and your intention would be to do something other than be silent and bear it?

Written by Pink Panther

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  1. Black Dynasty
    March 04, 10:51 Reply

    Sighs, this is complicated. However i try to simplify things for myself.

    If he and I are together and he goes ahead to start dating my sister or female best friend, first of all… we are breaking up. Secondly he would have an ultimatum to tell them or end the relationship with her.

    If he was dating my sister or female best friend and came on to me, i would turn him down and the same ultimatum for him to come clean would apply.

    As much as society pressures us, we always have a choice. A hard choice yes, but a choice nonetheless. Feelings come and go, not every feeling is to be acted on, that much i understand. Use your prefrontal cortex abeg and reason the consequences.

    I won’t allow someone i care about to be hurt and do nothing, it is a personal principle to treat people how I want to be treated.

  2. Dunder
    March 04, 12:25 Reply

    I wouldn’t be sleeping with someone who is cheating on me with my own kin. I would also not be bearing their secrets either, whether they are propositioning me for a relationship or trying that nonsense with my relative or friend. Life is not that hard if you have your own personal values and stick to them. I am still or the opinion that being attracted to people of your own gender is not enough of an excuse to be morally derelict. That something is possible does not mean it should be pursued.

    This does not mean being vindictive and going the “John Tucker must die” approach because if you fit a certain stereotype, it is your word against the school jock with an enviable body count. Without receipts, you’ll be an obsessed homo and with receipts you’ll be the degenerate that turned a bad boy bad and soured him for doe-eyed Sheilas. There’s no trophy here and where homophobia is rife, the ostracism would get worse.

    The calculated thing for a teenager to do would be to keep his head down, stay away from the best friend and her end-time boyfriend and just plot his way into university and away from that toxicity. If you are the vindictive type, by all means, save your receipts but just make your own success and the school jock wouldn’t be hot enough for you to rent when you are fishing in clearer waters. But teenagers are like “but I love him” 😆.

    I’ll look out for the movie though. It’s funny, the little things that seem so big in the eyes of a teenager. Poor Tunde probably never realised he was wasting his pretty on a fuck boy.

  3. Ken
    March 05, 04:59 Reply

    Many people speak with both sides of their mouth. It’s all nice and fun to be the one dishing out ultimatum when u are not yet on the space where u are either forced to get married to the opposite sex or constantly endure the humiliation of family and friends. When u get to that point your way of thinking will change.

    But apart from family pressure, there are people who genuinely love both sexes. Of which coming out to one is completely out of the question, for fear of the potential chain of backlash should the person u come out to choose to out u to the world. Not everybody is bound to have a happy ending like kenny brandmuse o!

    My take is that u do what u are comfortable with and nobody should be forced to come out under any circumstances. Moreso u have a choice to leave anybody u feel u aren’t comfortable being in the closet with. But to force someone to come out of the closet is one of the worst things u can do to an lgbt person. It might even have unintended consequences for u. Stay out of other people’s relationships and mind your business.

    • Black Dynasty
      March 05, 08:07 Reply

      “It’s all nice and fun to be the one dishing out ultimatum when u are not yet on the space where u are either forced to get married to the opposite sex or constantly endure the humiliation of family and friends.”

      Just about every Nigerian LGBTQ+ person goes through this and feels this pressure in varying degrees, it is not exclusive to some individuals.

      “But to force someone to come out of the closet is one of the worst things u can do to an lgbt person. It might even have unintended consequences for u. Stay out of other people’s relationships and mind your business.”

      Yes, outing someone shouldn’t be done… thus the ultimatum to leave peacefully. What we’re not going to do is pretend that misleading or lying to someone because of your sexuality is ok. Sex
      Yes, it is a survival strategy considering the country naija is, but it is still wrong to lie and deceive…heck, we feel this when lovers commit infidelity.
      Thus, why I will not sit and watch my sister or female best friend be lied to about being loved by someone who feels no attraction or genuine interest in her.
      I would do the same thing if a str8 man was trying to play her, i would open my mouth. What she decides to do after that, is her business. If i was being misled, i would want her to tell me too.
      Each to their own, my siblings are my closest and most trusted friends, i won’t see them about to be hurt and keep quiet; not an option for me.

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