Fear. The underlying theme of my coming out story is fear. Fear of being discovered. Fear of being rejected. Fear of being unloved. Fear of hurting the people I love. Fear of facing my fears head-on, and then as a result, the fear of what would happen if I did.
I have always known I was different – gay – as early I can remember. From childhood, I have always been reserved, always playing with my drawing book and crayons (thank God for drawing skills). I remember my folks always asking me to go out and play and I’d sneak to the backyard instead; I was afraid that if I went out, “they” will find out. Nasty things happened as a result of that. Terrible thoughts, insomnia, suicide attempts, a nasty attitude and worst of all, I was afraid of myself. I felt like a mistake. Prayers were not working; the only thing working for me throughout secondary school was depression.
I got diagnosed with bipolar depression, and started taking some anti depression pills. And most times, I’ll OD on them with the hope that it will end my suffering. But well, the universe doesn’t make such things easy. Some people are born gay and they embrace it. The jigsaw puzzle just fits perfectly. It’s a part of them and they are proud of that, no matter what the world or anyone else tells them. That’s the way it should be for everyone! Unfortunately for me, growing up gay meant feeling isolated and alone.
The feeling I remember vividly when growing up was that of fear. Fear of been discovered, which was in between trying on my sisters outfits and lusting after Ayo, my perfect neighbour. Fear of ending my father’s family name seeing as I’m the only son of my father, who himself is the only son of his father. Fear of rejection.
Fast forward six years from all that and there’s a different story to tell. December 2013, most of my family members were in the village for the holidays and that was when it happened. My social life changed drastically in college, loads of partying, ‘loving’ and the likes and I had picked up a few bad habits.
About four days to Christmas, we were all watching an episode of Merlin, and I said it (a few hours before, I’d been smoking clouds, feeling worthless and the thought of suicide was stronger than anything I’d ever felt).
And so, I said it casually, with a poker face: “I am gay.”
It was as if time froze, and it was raining ice cold silence. For the longest time, nobody said anything or moved or even blinked. I didn’t know what to say thereafter. And then, just when I was about to explode, my younger sister shouted, “I knew it!” Everybody turned to look at her, and my most elder sister quickly gave her the Shhh gesture.
The Fuck?! Knew what? Ground, please open up and swallow me now. I just ran outside to my smoking spot and clouded some more.
A couple of days passed, and no one said a word to me. It was like nothing happened. I knew my dad was just waiting for the right time to do what he had in mind to do. And that right time happened after the Christmas shenanigans were over. He gathered everybody and said the devil was at work in my life. After a rerun of the bylaws in the Holy books and African cultures, he proposed we conduct a fasting and prayer session every Friday until there was “a turnaround” and more shrink sessions. For three months, the prayer and fasting took place.
And then, they just stopped suddenly.
I haven’t seen my parents since then to see the look they’ll give me; they however sound cool over the phone though. My sisters are definitely not giving me the evil looks; if anything they are closer to me now than before, and way freer than they have ever been, and that includes allowing me test their outfits. I am happier today than I have ever been, and gradually I’m beginning to find love in arms that are more comfortable than a girl’s.
Writing this has made me think about the topic of coming out and how there isn’t a right or wrong formula. Everyone’s individual story is different. It’s up to the individual how and when they come out. It has to be their own decision, when and however that will be. All anyone can do is make the decision they believe is best for them. As gay men we tend to value our self-worth in how others see us, which is something that needs to change.
Perhaps the rainbow is proof that you can go through stormy weather and yet come out as something beautiful and colourful.
Written by ScarFace