I read about it on Linda Ikeji’s blog. I was at work that day and I spied something about it on my friend’s Blackberry pm, and I just knew the gossip queen, Linda would have the full gist. So I checked her blog and there it was: the signage into law of a new status quo. One that had instantly turned folks like me into potential criminals and jail prospects.
As the day drew to an end, as I monitored the blogosphere and observed the virtual war that raged between the self-righteous majority of heterosexuals and the indignant minority of gay activists, I fell to the clutches of depression. The opinions were flying with rapid-fire intensity across the internet.
The sick bastards, this is what they deserve!
Judge not that you may not be judged…
Go to hell, gays! But first of all, go to jail!
If it is your brother or sister who you discover is gay nko…
This is an abuse of a minority’s human rights!
Jonathan doesn’t realize what he has done!
God help us! God help Nigeria!
Melancholy, dark and heavy, descended on me as the sun set on that day. I started questioning my existence as a human being, as a Nigerian, and as part of God’s creation. My country thinks I’m a criminal. My Christian brethren think I’m a sin. My countrymen think I’m an abomination. What was the point of living, really? It was like my early University days all over again, that period when I struggled to make my peace with my sexuality.
And then I started to withdraw. With the news of rampant gay lynchings came trepidation; I started looking over my shoulder, and seeing accusations in every stranger’s eyes that looked at me a little longer than necessary before passing me by. With the news of impromptu police searches of the phones of young male pedestrians came the sense of self preservation; I deleted all the gay porn in my phone, right along with the gorgeous pictures of Tyson Beckford (#sigh I’d always prayed I would one day have sex with that guy) and the sleek, segzy photos of a well-built friend of mine (#grin Now him I have had sex with).
But then, the good thing about self preservation is that it pulled me out of my depression. Because the will to live is birthed only when one has developed the instinct to protect life, to keep life – yours – at all costs.
And then time passed.
And Boko Haram struck.
And public officials mismanaged funds.
And as the outrage of Nigerians was split, life went on.
I gradually regained the courage to get back on the dating sites. After all, I was still looking for love, wasn’t I? And somewhere beyond all the other gay men looking for a quick lay, beyond all the conniving straight men looking to entrap the gays, beyond all the good, the bad and the ugly, there had to be someone whose fuck…sorry, love would be my final bus stop.
So I reactivated my profile, and dived into the dating pool again.
It wasn’t long before he caught my eye. Well, actually, I caught his. He said hello first. And I clicked open his profile pictures and proceeded to check him out, to know if he was worth my time.
Quite good looking. High cheekbones. Full, pouty lips (Gawd! I have a weakness for kissable lips). Plus his sense of humour wasn’t so bad.
And he was married too. Yes, he dropped that nugget of information, and I had to pull the brakes on my designs of happily-ever-after with him. Oh well, if there was no love to be found with him, there was always sex. I took comfort in that, and promptly changed the tone of my responses during our chats. I went from mushy to flirty. From nice to naughty. From romantic to outrageous. My online Sasha Fierce was on full throttle.
He reacted to my new persona the way I knew he would. Oh baby, I’m so hot for you. Baby, I want you so bad. Baby, do you know what you’re doing to me, you’re making me hard. Baby, I want to fuck you till you say my name. Baby, when can we meet?
Ah yes, the ultimate hook-up question – When can we meet?
And if it were during my university days or when I wasn’t employed, I would have hastened to fix a date with him, so much was the free time I had on my hands. But you see, I have a demanding job. One that leaves me beat at the end of every week day. One that makes me crave the solitude and relaxation that the weekends have to offer. I’m very selfish with whatever free time I get during the weekends. Which is why I find it hard to acquiesce to any arrangement where I’m required to go and meet someone. Don’t get me wrong, I do go out for hook-ups. But often times, I quite simply cannot be bothered.
And so, when I asked him what sort of arrangement he had in mind, and he replied that I would have to come to his area, for us to have a sleepover at his cousin’s place, I had concerns.
Is your cousin gay?
Does he know you are?
So how will this work?
What do you mean?
Where will he be while we’re busy shagging in his house?
He’s my little cousin. I’ll send him off to spend the night elsewhere.
There was something wrong with that answer but I didn’t dwell on it. But the days that followed saw us repeatedly rescheduling our date, because of me. I had the excuses. I’d had a long day at work. I had a migraine. I had another engagement with family. NEPA blessed us with light all weekend. A cousin came around to spend the weekend. I had a huge laundry to do. Excuses, excuses. It wasn’t as though I had a bad feeling about him. There were no alarm bells ringing, no niggling sense of unease, no still small voice warning me to stay away from him.
I just simply couldn’t be bothered to make the effort to go see him.
And then, that afternoon, he called. I answered his call, already bursting with profuse apologies and promises that I’d surely make the next date. But he coolly brushed aside my words and said, I’m beginning to suspect that you already know.
Already know what?
That I’m not really gay. That I’m actually a policeman, and my mission on the dating site is to catch stupid gays like you and make sure you go to prison.
I froze where I was. My eyes widened with shock and my mind silently screamed, What?!
You’re very lucky, he continued. All this time you kept on posting me and posting me; I began to think that you already suspect who I am. At a point, I discussed the operation with my wife, and she told me to just let you be. She said it wasn’t worth it, and I finally agreed. So count yourself very lucky, young man. I would say god is truly watching over you, but I know God hates your kind. I’m telling you all this because I’m crossing you off my list. Goodbye, and stay away from trouble.
And he hung up, leaving me stupefied and angry and grateful to the Providence who made sure I had my excuses, that I had no reason to walk through this particular valley of shadow of death. The world is full of unknowns, most of them dangerous and potentially hurtful. But I’ll continue to live and love and pray to God – you know, He who watches over me and yet hates my kind – to deliver me from them all.