The Power of Storytelling

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do ” – Brené Brown

Early next month I take to stage with a fellow storyteller to share stories about my journey with my mother. My solo piece is called ‘Killing My Mother’!

When I think of the phrase ‘killing my mother’ there are three stories that come to mind. The first story features the statement – ‘I never killed my mother, so you cannot kill me’. This was something my mother often said, as she would beat me in my teens whenever I misbehaved. The second features – ‘You have killed me!’ This was the first thing that my mother screamed when in my late 20s I told her that I was gay. The third features – ‘You made your mother miserable and that misery killed her’. This was what my mother’s pastor told me when I returned to Nigeria in my 40s for my mother’s funeral.

Father and Mother

I recently sat down with my fellow storytelling collaborator (Paul Woodward) to discuss our upcoming performance, our inspiration and intentions….. here is our conversation…..

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Between Two Worlds

The Traveller

I have always journeyed between two worlds,
for that is all I know.
And even though I often long
to simply be in one place and call it home,
that experience feels so alien to me.
And so I continue to travel
– from here to there,
from now to then. More

My Mother & her Gay Son

Some days it feels just like yesterday when I boarded a late night Nigerian Airways flight from Lagos to London. It was January 1988. I was 19 and all I thought about, as I stared out of the airplane window, was: “At last, I can finally start being me. I can finally start living my own life”.

What I did not anticipate back then, was that I carried a huge amount of shame about being gay. Leaving home had not taken away my pain; it had simply travelled with me. It would take me another eight years, before I experienced my first sexual encounter with a man. Until then, I simply denied the ‘gay part’ of me by taking refuge in daydreams and in a church, where on most Sundays, the pastor condemned gay people. When I finally left the church, I embarked on searching for ‘the one’, which sadly only led to one-night stands and ‘short-term’ encounters. I excelled in my career, travelled continuously and found many other outlets to help numb my pain. More

Chasing Rainbows

Ade (@OutTales) tells the story of his longing to leave Nigeria and his dramatic attempt to make his dream come true.

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

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

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