Nele's Thoughts

Writing Heterosexual Love, While Queer

One of the most imperative perks of being a writer is that, ultimately- after existing and preexisting in our respectively curated worlds- one is still a human being.

And so, if not natural in this creative sphere, is prone to a subconsciously unending process of self – assessment, because one thing is certain; we are what we write.

In this, one is expectedly very receptive to internal uncertainties, social changes, and the possible invalidity of seemingly incontrovertible phenomenons; basically asking questions to whose answers we already have a sketch of, and probing edges we don’t necessarily always want a flattened resolution to.

Enough eulogies now.

In my early attempts at writing stories in the precinct of love and erotic emotions, I -on a certain default, all thanks to heteronomativity- always had my characters to be a man and a woman.

It never crossed my mind to attempt my narrative from the eyes of alternate genders, I never imagined two men might possibly love each other with the mutual adornment characteristic of heterosexual couples without tearing for their bodies in no time, I never imagined I might accurately define two men beyond their sexual organs, to me then, what was a gay story without the most graphic sex scenes and innuendoes?

While erotic writings appeared too embarrassing to craft from my assortment of darkest imaginations, the guilt of self-hate and a unidirectional religion wouldn’t have let me give them life beyond their curt parleys in my mind to start with.

It seemed acceptable, and proper, to move along the line of heterosexual coquetry at all times, there weren’t possibly any other kinds of characters able to elicit the purest kind of love I was hoping to give life to. A kind of love society wouldn’t frown at. But one, if I decide to stay true to myself, I can’t even share with the people around me who I keep my sexuality away from. And one that if mistakenly read, would have them making multiple deliverance appointments over my deviance.

*

Because some things just are, unproded, unquestioned, and some others are that give a messy splatter on the face when they blow up from the intensity of their ignored reality. Because I had spent a good time in the perception and occasional conditioning of a single sexual lifestyle, I was certain I would know what it personally feels like between a man and a woman.

These coupled with the romance novels I read which had almost the same kind of people doing the kinds of things I couldn’t readily agree with, but one I felt I understood enough to write about, things felt settled in that area.

Until, I remember this clearly, there’s me hunched over my broad writing note, pen poised, ready to strike out, and beat to shape, the most intregal scene in any love tinged story; the meet.

A time when the two fulcrum of the story are supposed to feel a fundamental magic, one that would guide the story through. But on that day, at that moment, I couldn’t write anything. No words would come. I knew what my romance stories say, I could easily copy that in a relatable context but it just wasn’t coming, in a way I didn’t believe it enough for it to come around, in other words I had little organic idea of what it felt like to feel attracted to the opposite sex I was crafting. Not just that, I didn’t know what my male character was to say, I might have seen and read it happen too many times to count, but in the words of Joe Okonkwo “You cannot write if you can’t feel” and that was what happened for me, I couldn’t feel it.

*

With time, I got better at shelving my feelings away, working my imagination taut and forcing the words out onto the lips of my characters. It got easier to copy the words from a book with an apparently honest understanding of heterosexual attraction, and paste them; altered, without much sensitivity. For me then, all that matterrd was writing a socially acceptable story. A story I could proudly share amongst my homophobic friends and receive pats on the back.

Once when I published a story of a first kiss, without distinctively naming the gender of the main characters, an older friend with an idea and a staunch rejection of my queerness, wanted me to put it down, and desist from writing such.

Over the years, after some time off the erotic scene, just writing stories that gloss over the emotions and go on to present events in archetypes, and the occurrence of heightened self-acceptance; this is my skin, I can’t run away from it, the pleasure and pain it might bring, but most importantly, the truth in and of self- I found myself subconsciously fashioning erotica around familiar feelings.

When a story roved around in my head, as they usually do with most of us, I realized I was making more spaces for the kind of love- if not seen generally as pure- I understood exceptionally well.

Although I believed dealing with same sex couples would mean going on a long ride of explanations, and careful avoidance of excessive innuendo in my bid to validate the plausibility of their attraction, but reading other stories where men weren’t always about their clothes, and in a context I can relate to at any time, my mind began to shrug off the blanket of the tight narrative in which I had my dynamic characters who are just like me.

Now this just doesn’t stop with fiction, I am compelled always to talk about myself, to explore the struggles and undisclosed joys of being part of a social flotsam. Not only do I want to run words along the shapeless lines of certain growth, miracles, and other intregal pains, I yearn to share it with other people, and set up the board for comparisons, commemoration and redefining understanding.

Writing my absolute truth helps me form something out of this amoeba, as I have come to know.

There however comes a problem with that, for all of my queer tinged writings done in my real name, I share almost nothing. Not to my immediate friends nor family who have a certain perception about the kind of writings I would most likely delve into if it were to be romantic, and in all honesty we all aren’t that bold to not give that much of a (necessary) care, to what perceptions people around us have got.

To the not so immediate friends, who know about my sexuality and are relatively fine with it, I can share it with them, without the expectation of a repost, not merely on the merit of the writing, but to avoid the mentally erroneous belief of the everyday homophobe that any veritable supporter of the LGBT is in a way or another sexually deviant, this notion that many blatantly plaster on simply open minded persons, probably just appreciating a good work of art.

One of my virtually immediate friends, who I share my works with, real name and otherwise, keeps asking me with each new queer related work in my real name, if I am trying to indirectly come out to the world.

While this might seem logical, and to a stretch a warning of concern, I know beneath all that is a form of pre-abstinence or if not that, a wariness to associate with this crude person, too loud about the otherness of their sexual organs.

*

I worry too. In writing about characters whose nature I don’t fully understand, in which I end up producing a clone from someone else’s work, something without inspiration or veritable truth, I feel each day like a fraud, because in the same way I don’t like a sissy-frail-horrible-opaque-confused personality washed representation of me and all things I can queerly relate to, it should not be okay to talk about a love or affection I haven’t strongly felt.

*

Over the years, I have come across a number of works in literature, music, and movies that don’t spell me out right.

From raunchily developed Nollywood characters, to the crudest lines and references in songs.

Remembering now an article on Electric Lit, about straight women mis-writing queer characters, how unfair it really is to the average LGBT person’s image, and how they do not hold the moral right to do that, reminds me of how I have been about this but in reverse, and how a neglect of that does a lot of disservice to the expansive stories to be told from and about me, as well as my related clusters.

*

Anonymity in all highly defined shades, buffered by technology- albeit with it’s problem of reception and some interpersonal engagements that at times turn malignant out of suspicion- can at once be a shield, a turn off, a jeer, even a self-deprecating joke, but for most of the time, it serves as a strong point of release.

Let it be known that intuition can be a deux machina of sorts, and the creative ambit isn’t fashioned with some of our solid beliefs and grudges in mind, and so one might be compelled to go out of the yard.

It is however most important to be able to say things true to one’s heart. To say those things and share away without caring where they land, because the crux of the matter, is writing out these cacophonous emotions inside of us, and doing so with probity.

 

Read more posts from Nele Anju on Not A Butterfly.

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