Ever since I was a young boy, I have been drawn to those of a similar gender to myself; even though I never knew the word that described my attraction, until I was old enough to watch the Jerry Springer show with my older brother. He had said “funny Homosexuals”; I was 13, maybe 12. That night, I checked the dictionary for a broader meaning of the word and picked up some synonyms – finally, I knew the word that described my feelings and desires.
As a young boy, I remember kissing the boy who sat next to me in class on the lips. My classmates had laughed, but no one told our teacher. I remember watching wrestling with the whole family and being fascinated by the half-naked men. I remember spying on my uncles’ get dressed and on the neighbour in the next house taking off his clothes, when he got back from work.
As I got older, my desires did not go away. I did not have many friends and was considered feminine. I was also overweight. I was called names by the local kids – ‘sister’, ‘football-head’, amongst many others. My eyebrows made my classmates tease me the most; they always made fun of the owlish shape it had. I soon started tweezing them, I have never stopped since, and no one remembers how they originally look.
In my 3rd year at secondary school, video players became popular in Nigeria. My uncle’s best friend had all the latest films and we would always loan some from him. He’d often come round to our house when my uncle was around, during which he’d always talk to me. Talk became money and money became visits to his place after school. He lived with his aunt and attended the Polytechnic in the neighborhood. I liked how he made me feel so special, so when he started to touch me inappropriately, I liked it. I never stopped him and I never told anyone. I wanted it.
We’d kiss and I’d go down on him, till my mouth hurt. After school, he’d tell me everything he wanted me to do to him. I always had an excuse for my parents, as I’d get back home late. My lies were believable, as I was a very good boy in the eyes of my parents. They simply had no idea what I was getting up to every afternoon after school.
One day, he wanted to try something new, he wanted to ‘take me’. I took off my pants and let him try. I couldn’t hold still long enough, the pain was too intense. I didn’t cry, but I felt like a looser and a failure. The next day, I was there to try again and was determined to make him happy. He didn’t ask me to come; I was there to please him, so that he’d still want me. I squirmed a lot, which got him angry. The pain was unbearable, it felt like an invasion. I cried this time; he didn’t try to comfort me. After a while he stopped and I begged him to try again. He told me to leave before his aunt returned from work. I was reluctant to do so and he punched me in the face, which led to a cut on my lower lip. He told me never to return, after which his visits to my house diminished.
I was a good liar. When I got home and was asked what happened to my face, I told them about the boy from church, who I had always made fun of, because he couldn’t read. He had always said he was going to beat me up. So I mentioned that he had attacked me, as I was returning from school. I said that people passing by had intervened before it got worse. My family was furious; they were ready to walk to his house to deal with him. I became so scared, but my mum prevented them from going. She said we were Christians and that I deserved it for teasing the boy in the first place. That night, she reported the issue to my father, who supported her. He was very angry with me for getting myself into trouble – if only he knew the truth!
My days worsened, as I carried on with my life. I felt powerless, with zero self-esteem and confidence. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about what I had done and what I was going through. I kept it all to myself.
I had no gay friends and there were no more sexual acts of any kind. At school, I was insecure about everything. I remember being asked to address the school assembly, as the new timekeeper. I could hardly speak, I sounded like I was crying as I held the microphone. I was sweating. The principal had to take the microphone from me; my schoolmates talked about this incident for a long time.
I was involved in a number of extra curricular activities, and yet I was so ashamed of myself.
In Senior Secondary 2 (SS2), the Internet became really popular in Nigeria. Cybercafés where everywhere. I got an email account for the first time. I joined penpal.com and made a few friends online. One day, whilst at the cybercafé I saw some guys open a site called ‘adultfriendfinder.com’. I was curious, so I opened an account. I was only 15+ and so I was constantly watching my back so no one caught me opening such a site, as it had sexually graphic content. The site had a whole lot of sister sites which catered to a variety of sexual preferences.
One of the sites was – outpersonals.com. It was the first gay site I had ever seen. I opened an account with a false age, as the site was for people who were 18 years and over. What I didn’t know was that it was a premium site. I therefore could not view other user profiles. I couldn’t contact members I liked, I could only look and wink (just like ‘poke’ on Facebook). Sadly, I never got any winks in return.
I discovered that lots of Nigerians who did not identify as gay looked for ways around the situation on the site. They would use their phone numbers as their user names, but with no pictures. In my case, I used my initials to come up with a name. On the site, I seemed to be the only ‘good boy’. All the other profile headings were very erotic. Mine only said, ‘I liked French men & I liked to cook’
One profile stood out to me – ‘Jason’s’ profile. He was Nigerian and had nude frontal pictures of himself on the site. I noted down his number, and a few others. I rang him. At the time, Jason was 28 and knew a lot of the guys in Lagos; even though he was not based there. All the other numbers I took down were for much older guys who didn’t have time for little boys like me. Few of them made time; we’d have sex, after which I’d never hear from them again. Some would warn me not to call them anymore. After sex, I was all of a sudden too young….too feminine….too fat, the rejection was hurtful. I stopped taking numbers from the site and came to rely on Jason to introduce me to his friends.
It wasn’t a better option with Jason. He would provide me with contact details, but the rejection from others still continued. And with every rejection after sex, I would go back to him. He would always ask me to top-up his phone for every contact number he gave me; regardless of whether the hook up was successful or not; I accepted. I was desperate for validation… and some man love.
Jason’s contacts were mostly married or older men, in their 30’s or 40’s. I tried to be better at sex, so one person, just one, would have a reason to make me his. I started watching gay porn and reading sex stories on outpersonals. Jason was taking advantage of me. He was able to do all of this from a distance. I never met him, but we spoke on the phone and he would give me instructions on how to hook up with his contact. Some of his contacts came from Europe. He’d ask me to go meet them and this became my new life – sneaking out of the house pretending to go to church or to visit my friends in the afternoon. I wasn’t getting paid, although he was, as I later found out.
At this stage of my life, I was not aware of the diseases I was exposing myself to. I simply wanted to be wanted.
Wazobia © (2012)