What is a label?
It seems simply to me, a construct in any form, out to classify, grade, and shelve fragmental phenomenons, into a coalesced material for easy appropriation.
On one hand, it might seem a well calculated agenda at personal restriction, in how comfortable our socially recognized identities makes us, in such that we don’t always have to grapple with words while explaining them, nor find reason to break some theoretical law by going against what we originally identify with.
Say, a Top who because he finds it comfortable to be the active partner finds no reason to steer away from the familiar walls of his recognized role, or a bottom too afraid to ask for the active role and relinquish his passive stance when he feels like it, perhaps because it would cause a confusion of sorts.
So yes, while labels makes things easy for us, and those trying to understand us, it doesn’t and shouldn’t dictate all that we do in our private areas.
It just cannot-
Which doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have a thing or two to say about it.
While the term MSM, created by Cleo Manago, an African American activist and socail architect- who also coined the term SGL (Same Gender Loving) as a resistance against white queer labellings- can be safely said to be an obsolete label no longer in mainstream use, as it a near alternative to the G in the LGBTQ umbrella, of course as people believe it is.
The truth is that, MSMs are just as it means males who have sex with males (and only that). This is distinctly opposed to being gay, which is a cultural identity that denotes self-acceptance and sometimes may not involve the shoehorned mentality that homosexuality starts and ends with sex.
So while the G denotes a broader, more defined personality, the MSM which is a subterm that has corrosively seeped into what we define as gay, exists in a small, unhealthy space of obscene dehumanization.
Discussing this with a few friends, some people are very unaware of this flaw(or self-cheating), while others see it as what it truly is; a misconception wrapped in good light, and spelled out in every facet of gay life, from YouTuber’s thumbnails who tease out their sex-crazed relationships in it’s sleaziest forms, to Instagram photos, and uncensored gay groups receptive to impressionable people with a yawning grasp of what it means to truly be a gay person.
Rarely do we see the blissful aspect of gay life that exists outside of sex. Most times during first meets, the first thing guys ask for are roles, nude pictures and a host of other vain fragments that say “hey let us get this thing over with, and move on to someone else.”
But the problem comes in when they decide to stay longer, only to realise how different they are, and sometimes normalising cheating with other men while in a relationship.
What the MSM feels like in a literal term is a hypocritically unfair coinage that isn’t doing the thrope of questioning boys and even older men without a broad and healthy grasp of gay life, any good by preaching a repeatedly banal message.
I remember publishing a gay story with no sex scene, involving the perils of self-acceptance, and the ills of a nonexistent community that helps to mould the gradual understanding of who we are in and outside of our sexuality (just added that bit), last two months, and a commentator said something about hating gay stories except for the sex scenes, which in other words means that we haven’t been spreading enough message of friendship, of true love, of mutual understanding and the soothing peace that comes with self- realisation and acceptance.
Be it known that MSMs aren’t bi-curious nor questioning, they in fact reject any label under the LGBT umbrella, but might not be straight even, and this can pass a lot of wrong messages if openly embraced, which might explain why some of us- can’t bring myself to say them- slip into the gay label just to keep up appearances.
Even without theories, the first deduction that comes to mind is a lack of self – acceptance, that word; a platitude at best, can never be understated in the good that it can do when keyed into realisation. Up next, is orientation; for some of us who grew up with a single story of gay people as men who have sex with men, and went on to meet MSMs who further drove home this misinformation.
Ignorance is also a huge factor, from experience, I have got to know that most men who (just want to) have sex with men, do so without question, without much probing nor consideration for the passive partner ( they are almost always on the active rung, no offence tops).
Overall, this is a selfish lifestyle, one absorbed with only oneself, permeating a wrong narrative to skeptics, and the budding generation
Bringing this to the Nigeian atmosphere (where this seems prevalent, for sometimes understandable reasons like homophobia, a reason not a prerogative), the term or the enactment as is the fulcrum of the matter, does a lot in drawing back the fight for a sustainable LGBT community, in the way that it makes people tentative to come out and take a staunch stand, through series of internally wrong dating systems that fetters out faith of a strong relationship.
So we must urge people to accept who we are, and not in their perception of ‘what’ they are.
We must urge ourselves to come into a broader, healthier understanding of our identity, to safeguard an atmosphere of love, and not exclusive, dehumanizing lust.
Going by recent unpleasant events of blackmail and assault, this stance is a very inconspicuous weapon for predators, people stuffed with internalized hate and unhesitatingly using it as a tool for shaming their (usually) sexual partners, yet to fiercely discern between personalities and be ready to stand by abstinence. Simply because men who have spent so much time, and pain, and ordeals learning the hieroglyphs of self-worth, do not deserve to be treated as sexual objects, things to fill an abnormal yearning.
One’s meat cannot squirt juice without munching on it at least, nobody deserves to be treated as a necessary devil.
So to self-loving men and boys out there -even for hookups- learn to be around men who know, and accept who they are, because a lot of things can go wrong otherwise.
Nele Anju (a pseudonym) is a proud Nigerian gay man. He describes himself as a Memoirist and currently blogs at Not a Butterfly.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in this Op-Ed by the Writer are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Rustin Times.