As I stood in my kitchen glued to the words in the email, I remembered the last time I saw my grandmother. It was over 9 years ago, during a visit to Lagos, when I had travelled there to face the ghosts of my past. We had not seen each other in over 15 years, and when I entered the crowded room she was in, she immediately burst into song. Even though she was well into her 80s’, she was fully alive in every way. She was frail and could not walk unassisted, and yet she swayed as she serenaded me with her words; summoning the spirits of our ancestors and thanking them for guiding me back home.
Throughout the time we were together that afternoon, she continuously prayed for my wellbeing and wished me wealth and prosperity for the future. As I left, she jokingly asked that I take her overseas with me, the whole room burst out laughing, as they gently teased her.
As I remembered that day, this morning, what struck me was how my grandmother was someone whose ‘eyes always lit up’ whenever she saw me. Even though, we never really had a conversation in words, during the times I visited her in my adolescence, I always felt welcomed and unconditionally accepted and loved. That had not changed when I saw her that last time. I, on the other hand had changed. I had gone off to see the world, searching for myself and yearning for adventure and excitement. Yet, there she was on that faithful afternoon, like no time had passed, showing me the same love, she had shown all those many years ago.
As I remembered my grandmother this morning, and recollected that lovely day I spent with family in Lagos, I found myself remembering a post on Facebook that had been brought to my attention a couple of days ago. The post which originated in Nigeria had posed the statement –
A lot of talk has been developed over the last few weeks about the so called same sex marriage, tell us if you found out that your brother or son was gay, what will you do?
It has proved to be a popular post, with almost 400 comments when I last checked – comments included:
‘disown straight no time 4 nonsence’
‘i will kill him, i swear’
‘i wont relate wit him again’
‘beat d hell out of hi m’
‘I will dis own him’
‘i wud coøk his favourite foöd,with POISON in it so dat he wud fuckin die nd go to HELL QUICKLY’
‘I will poison his food and watch him die while sipping my juice and smiling’
And those are just the tame comments!
So, what has this got to do with my grandmother passing? Well, the hypothetical gay brother or son in the posed question is ultimately someone’s grandson (including someone’s son, someone’s brother and someone’s friend). I am that hypothetical gay brother and son being referred to, only difference is that I actually do exist. The comments following the piece give the impression that this ‘gay son or brother’ is someone who is a two-dimensional figure, devoid of emotion.
At a time when so many same gender loving people are ending up committing suicide, having nervous breakdowns and finding all sorts of ways to numb the constant emotional invalidation from others, it is shocking that people would even write about doing such awful things to a family member. In terms of my grandmother, what I got to learn from her and her life, is that I am okay, exactly as I am. That I am loved, accepted and welcomed at the family table.
The fact of the matter is that we will all ultimately let go of this life; whether we like it or not. And for me right now, it’s so amazing to know that I was loved, without conditions. Yes, there might be people out there who want to do a number of the things mentioned in the Facebook post to me, but right now I let go of the anger, sadness and frustration, I initially felt in relation to those comments and simply reflect on the fact that I was loved by my grandmother, without condition.
Copyright © 2011 OutTales.
PS- sadly don’t have any pictures of my awesome grandmother to hand, but the one above is with her daughter, my mum…. taken in Lagos and at a time when the world was very different.