Being gay in Nigeria

Earlier this week, the Nigerian Same-Sex Marriage bill had its second reading in the House of Representatives. The bill, if passed, will prohibit marriage or civil union entered into between persons of same-sex.

The proposed legislation also imposes up to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine on anyone who “witnesses”, “aids” or “abets” same-sex relationships. The bill carries similar sentences for the establishment of gay clubs, and for any activity seen as supporting gay rights.  The legislation does feel very much a sham, because not only is it currently illegal to engage in ‘homosexual activity’ in Nigeria, it is also a huge cultural taboo. More

What happens when Religion and Culture collide with Sexuality

Earlier this year, I came across a story on a number of online gay sites, the piece was titled ‘Jesus was gay!’ I remember scanning it and not thinking too much about it. A few days later, I noticed a similar piece in ‘The Guardian‘.

I remember feeling that the piece was well written and thought-provoking. For me, it was not a case of ‘was it true or not’. Afterall, the beliefs I held about the ‘God of my childhood’ have long evolved into ‘All is God’ and ‘We are All One’…. and whilst I love a good story, I am more captivated by essence – i.e. what was the essence of the teachings of Jesus (and/or any other spiritual teacher). Curious to see what people thought of it, I decided to post the article on Facebook, with a status update of ‘Food for thought’. 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

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