Navigating Sexuality and Race – A journey all Black Gay Men travel!

Ade FB This past Saturday, I was scrolling through my twitter feed when I noticed a reference to an interview with the BBC journalist Evan Davis, where he talked about his coming out as a gay man. There was one tweet that made reference to the story being in the Independent newspaper that grabbed my attention and so I decided to read the interview. I read the article, but found myself stop when I came across the statement:

Davis said: “My other brother, who I’m convinced had already been told, managed to lighten the mood with the wry quip ‘Thank God you’re not black!’”

As a black gay man, I was not sure how to take this comment. What did it mean? How did such a comment lighten the mood? Did the quip mean ‘Thank God you’re not black, because it could be much worse?” or did it mean “You have it easy as a white gay man?”. Was not sure what it meant, but certainly did not see the comment as funny. I decided to check out the original article on the R U Coming Out site to see if I was missing something, the full extract read:

My parents didn’t guess, but my brother who I had told the previous day in the car did. He pretended he didn’t already know and said, ‘You’re gay’ – the second time he’s guessed in as many days! It turned out to be a very helpful intervention because it meant that I didn’t actually have to say those words. It certainly made things a bit easier for me. My other brother, who I’m convinced had already been told, managed to lighten the mood with the wry quip ‘Thank God you’re not black!’ More

Advertisements

Going beneath our differences by sharing our stories

Ade FBA few weeks ago I was with a friend, when I got out my pen to write something. ‘Oh, you’re left-handed he said’, ‘Yes, I replied’; conscious of the fact that it’s something I hardly think about and to an extent assume everyone knows. Curious, I asked whether he was too and he replied ‘yes’. I mentioned that I had never noticed, we both laughed and the conversation moved on to something else.

In my early childhood, when we moved from London to Nigeria, members of my family tried many futile attempts to get me to use my right hand. It was deemed an abomination to be left-handed and many of them were not having it. When none of their efforts worked, they gave up. These day its a subject far from my thoughts, until I am reminded like I was in that conversation. And on those occasions, when asked I don’t go to that place of fear of rejection, being vulnerable, being uncertain, and no old wounds of friends or family members disowning me for being left-handed are triggered. More

The story of my Coming Out

From a young, tender, innocent age, I always knew that I was different in ways that I couldn’t explain to myself, let alone to anybody else – I know it is a cliché or whatever, but trust me when I say some of us, at least those that pay attention to their bodies, know what I am talking about.

We lived in Ondo State (Nigeria) and my father’s cousin, Matthew was staying with us.  He was in High School and hanging around him for comfort and security made things better for me (my oldest sister was always taking advantage and bullying me, till I was taller than her of course!). While I hung around him for those things, he also had this fondness for me and I am not talking about tickling me or taking interest in me learning ABC. His fondness was in terms of me touching his genitals and vice versa. During those times – which didn’t last, because we moved to Akure – I never once thought I was abused for the simple fact that I enjoyed him touching me and since my dad and mum weren’t around as much, this was my toy; sure I had Transformers and all those stuff, but this was human with tender feelings with little abrasive twist to it. More

Don’t ask, Don’t tell

I remember bumping into a cousin on my way home, one early evening about eight years ago. I remember it so well because the conversation we had, has always stayed with me.

The encounter had happened many years after my so-called ‘coming out to the world’ phase. That coming out journey had meant that I had come to be comfortable within the gay scene and all that it brought. I had experienced the ups and downs of a long-term relationship, as well as the casual flings that I had hoped would lead somewhere. My close friends and mother knew I was gay and whilst I did not experience the acceptance of everyone I had revealed myself to, I was at a place in my life where I felt really comfortable about how I was – well, that is what I thought, until that encounter one early evening. More

‘Oh pleaze, we always knew you were gay!’

Somewhere between Winter ’95 and Spring ’96, I decided that I had had enough of living in the closet and felt I needed to embark on the journey of coming out – a process which also led me to being a steward at the ‘96 London Pride.

Following the death of my father the year before, I was determined to show up more fully in my life and coming out felt like the most obvious way of embracing this longing. Prior to his death, coming out was not something that I had thought I’d ever do. I did not personally know anyone of Nigerian origin who was gay, let alone out and in my mind I felt that I’d probably get married to a woman and simply carry on with living what I had considered a ‘normal life’.

At that point in my life, living was more about compliance and fitting in. I did not consider myself someone who had the courage to honor being different.

More

The ongoing journey of my Coming Out and self-acceptance (Part 3)

I did a new search on Google, one Tuesday afternoon in June 2011 and got my answer. I found out about the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR). It was an HIV clinic in Lagos, sponsored by some international organizations, including the Havard Business School. I quickly got dressed and rushed down to the clinic.

I told the security guards at the gate why I was there, and was directed to the reception, from there I was directed to the lab. I found out that the NIMR carried out its own HIV confirmation test before admitting any new patients. The lab had closed for the day and I was asked to return very early the next day. I returned, but didn’t get the tests done. It had rained heavily overnight and the lab had flooded, the staff therefore did not have access to their offices. I was disappointed. I had to wait three more days to finally have the tests, as it had rained again the next day.

Friday came and I had my confirmation test, it was Positive. We had been counselled in small groups before taking the test. During the session, we were informed about how HIV spreads, safe sex practices and the options available to us if our results turned out be Positive. As my result was Positive, I signed a document that gave me patient status with the clinic, and a date for my first appointment was set. More

Previous Older Entries

Discover your authentic Self

Share your OutTale with us

Love Me As I Am – The Book