Before I opened the blog, Kito Diaries, I had to convince myself that it was the right thing to do. And one of the avenues I used for that reassurance was by seeking the opinion of a small number of my friends. When I tabled the issue before them, separately, they were split into three camps: those who encouraged me exuberantly to do it, those who weren’t sure whether I should do it, and those who were absolutely against the idea. The last category was made up the fewest number, and their reasons for their disapproval ranged from a variety of reasons including the protection of identity, the absurdity of the idea given the gay clime of the country, and the fact that I could be breaking a law. When I pointed out that Nigerian gay men could use this avenue to express themselves, one sarcastically pointed out that if any guys wanted to express himself on a gay blog, he could go do so on Paris Hilton’s. (That friend is now expressing himself on Kito Diaries, lol. Sorry, buddy, I couldn’t resist)
Among the friends who were averse to the idea of KD is one who is particularly close to me. (Let’s call him Kelvin) After I went ahead and opened KD, everyone in that category eventually came around to loving it; everyone that is, except Kelvin. He stuck to his obstinacy that KD is a bad idea, and rebuffed my efforts to convince him otherwise. When I sent links of KD updates to him, he expressly told me to stop. When I brought it up in conversations, he shut the topic down. It bothered me because I was starting to wonder if his professed concern for me endangering myself because of KD was all there was to his obstinacy. I’d told him how much the blog had grown to be a part of my life, and I felt that the least he owed me as a friend was listen to me about it.
And then, the sad eventuality began to happen. We began to drift apart and began to have less and less to talk about, less and less reason to communicate with each other. I was resentful. He couldn’t care less. He was busy. I was busy. And the hustle and bustle of Lagos living drove the wrench deeper between us.
One day however, during the house party of a mutual friend, a get-together which we both attended, in a last ditch effort to make amends with Kelvin, I drew him aside and got real with him. I brought up the issue of KD again, and told him I wanted to know the real reason for his aversion to it. I wasn’t going to buy any banalities about me being at risk of fourteen years imprisonment.
And after a deep sigh, his first words to me were: ‘If I say yes to your blog’ – (he never says its name) – ‘it’d be like I have put the stamp of approval on who I am. Because, frankly, I’m not sure that I love the fact that I am gay.’
To say I was astounded by this frank admission would be an understatement. I had not seen that coming. I mean, Kelvin is self possessed, jovial, a happy soul, although sometimes tortured from his writings, and just generally the least person you’d expect to be conflicted over his sexuality. In all the years of our friendship, I’d never heard him utter any words to reveal a propensity for internalized homophobia or self disgust. He’s had active love lives that I know of, relationships he felt comfortable talking to me about, and had no problem with hitting on me the first time we met.
I had no idea that underneath all the keen exterior lurked someone who had not accepted himself, who worried about disappointing his family, who hadn’t reconciled the conflict between his Christian faith and his sexual orientation, who was tortured over the prospect of marriage, who flinched each time his father accused him of not living up to his full responsibility as the first son, who would most likely give anything to trade his sexuality for society’s idea of normalcy.
All the evils that I have put to death in my life a long time ago, that I’m actively vanquishing through my interactions on Kito Diaries. I have to admit that I have become so content with my life and sexuality, that I no longer quite understand these conflicts, these private demons, or why any young gay man or woman as grown as I am would let them wound him or her.
Kelvin can sometimes be invulnerable, but after he unburdened the much he could to me, I realized that I didn’t really know him. And I felt bad for it. And I wanted to help. But Kelvin didn’t want to hear any of it. He didn’t want to listen to anything I had to say. It seemed like he wanted to continue fighting his private demons alone and without any intrusion or assistance. And at first, I was understanding, then I quickly became impatient with him. And as I watched dismally as we grew even further apart because of the different places we are in our private lives, I wondered:
Why didn’t he want to be helped?
How do you help someone who doesn’t want your help?