Nele's Thoughts

Eighteen Things I Did Before I Turned Eighteen: An Alternative Spin To Growing Up Gay In Nigeria

*Found myself in the most organic way possible, like I playfully kissed a boy at a birthday party in his house, and everyone clapped, cheered, and basically found it adorably funny.

*Grew up with that memory, not as a chanced mystery never to be forgotten, but a medley of the unperturbed budding of my soul.

*Never got beaten for trying to kiss a boy again- not the birthday party boy- say we moved and then I met this other boy always by himself at the backyard willing to play sex with our clothes on, but then someone finds our mouths nakedly appraising the other, and yells that playtime is over, not because we were committing atrocities, what’s that? Boys kiss all the time, abegi! Leave them.

*Read books with two father bears, and two Mrs.Akins.

*Got complimented on my cosseted steps; grew up in clothes blurred and tarnished of the machinations of socially acceptable attitudes, Boys can where whatever they want. Who doesn’t/shouldn’t wear whatever makes them feel comfortable?

*Attended weddings on unperturbed Saturdays, with the pronouns viscerally altered for the two men or women standing before the Reverend, preaching love, preaching the elasticity of human affection.

*Saw two men kiss, hold hands, and look like what every other person Cupid has nibbed looks like; everyday, in soaps and series, short clips, and musicals. In the stead of baseless man-handling; of leaves, boots, planks, sabotage, hatred, and taboos losing their appropriations by illicit stakeholders, and an overall moral misconception.

*When I had my first boyfriend palavah, I had my brother; through his straight (but love involved) experiences put me through. He didn’t throw the cup he was drinking from at me, he didn’t (when I framed it indirectly) declare his potential enactment of violence, no he didn’t.

He did not say he hates me.

It did not get to my sister who said I disgusted her.

It didn’t get to mother who watched them as they made bumps, and a few crimson pathways on my body.


In the background of the good  memory played one of my favourite songs, of one part of two estranged women yearning for the scintillating eyes of the other.

*I watched girls fight over their girls.

*And boys trying to woo their interests.

*Never got plummeted by people in my claim of love, for learning about the diversity of emotions.

*Got late night advice from Mother on what would suit me best for a future husband.

*But before then, I had instructive colouring books, games with friends that involved the materialistic swapping of genders; fluid, unclogged, sweet days framed in soft fog.

*Grew older, and came to know that a man is not just the thing between his legs, that being with someone is a furnished extension of oneself.

*Attended the first Lagos Pride March kicking off at Ajegunle, driven by Father, and attended by so many familiar faces waving bright flags, being drag, painted funny, flying emblazoned shirts, along with reserved others, looking about for the one, and sharing happiness without borders.

*Never got depressed about never fitting into the generality of misinformed sexual narratives. And there was this cool queer hangout Café I and my friends literally spent everyday at, what with the nice instructors, the mad music, the games, the mock dancefloor with real spinning lights, the books filled in the exquisite bookcases with carvings of Greek gods, the huge paintings of Sappho, and other artistic footnotes of African homosexual history, on the burgundy walls. It was called The House before it was made bigger and renamed House Of Joy, a while after I circumstantially had to stop visiting.

*Never tried to kill myself, nor nurture the thoughts whatsoever. Literally grew up gay

*Looked in the mirror everyday and saw nothing wrong with me, society never tried to confuse me about my validity.

First as a human, one capable of the kind of love that shouldn’t warrant interrogation.

Love (in its most honest) doesn’t deserve interrogation.


Nele’s Thoughts is a column run by Nigerian Writer Nele Anju. Click here for more posts.

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