I narrated this personal experience around May last year to Charlie Boy when I was at his residence in Gwarimpa, Abuja. He is writing a book, and wants to adapt my story. So y’all will be the first to have an insight of what his book will read like.
About this story, when I considered writing it for Kito Diaries, I didn’t know where to start, why I wanted to write it, to relive the past. But I believe that the more I familiarize the past with my present, the less hold it has over me.
My name is not Law, and I am twenty-one years of age. I grew up, knowing full well that I have always had a thing for guys, but I didn’t understand the feeling. I grew up in a strict Catholic home, and after my primary education, I was sent to a Catholic missionary ‘boys only’ school, one with very stern, high standards. When I was in my JSS1, on a Monday morning, six SS2 students were expelled on the account that they were involved in homosexual acts. At this time, I was so righteous I even assisted the school chaplain, as a spy, to nab the defaulting students. I thought homosexual acts were immoral and abnormal. I was naïve. I didn’t know any better.
With the passage of time, when I hit puberty, I started becoming aware of the certain tenderness I had for my fellow boys. It scared me. I was horrified. I told myself I couldn’t be homosexual, I couldn’t be like them. But the yearnings persisted. I was confused and I was convinced I was doomed for hell.
When I confessed my turmoil to my close friend who was in a mixed school, he suggested that the reason for my feelings must be because I was in a single-sex school; he suggested that perhaps I needed to change my environment. So I managed to convince my parents, without divulging much, that I needed to change school and they agreed. I completed my secondary school education in a mixed school. There, I had my first girlfriend, and I was able to establish a good relationship with girls. With the blossoming of this ‘heterosexual’ side of me, I thought, ‘Maybe I’m not gay after all.’
However, no matter how much I tried, I still felt missing in me. Something that called for a fulfillment I wasn’t giving. I had this urge for something else. And finally, I gave in to the urge to explore. My curiosity fanned the flames of my explorations, and my first guy kiss, my first touch of another boy, I felt quite complete. In spite of this, I felt tortured, so sure that I was going to hell. I prayed to God to be cured on several occasions. I had a priest friend, consulted him severally because I thought I was morally sick. How could I want this? How could I desire the touch of my fellow boy? Something had to be wrong.
But however much I prayed, I remained the same. God, it seemed, just couldn’t be bothered with giving me the cure I so desperately wanted.
When I was sixteen, I got admission into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka on September 2009. Without being immodest, I admit I am good looking and vibrant. And so, I was part of the toast of the campus gaybourhood.
At this point, I would like to point out a failing of most African parents, and that is this reluctance to properly educate their children on the issues of sex in that crucial stage when they attain maturity or that stage of puberty when the average teenager’s curiosities are raised and there is this strong push to explore carnalities which could put them at the risk of endangering their lives permanently.
I never had that talk about the birds and the bees with my parents, even though, to be fair, they’d have talked to me about girls, when really, all I needed to know was about boys. And as a child, leaving the stern security of his home to another land, all I wanted was to explore my freedom thoroughly.
In my first and second years at school, I lived recklessly – parties and clubs, sex, drugs (SK freak). It was such an easy life to live, because every dude in town wanted me. I was just simply attractive.
And as well illustrated in KD’s Love And Sex In The City series, I had a clique. We were four very close friends, and we shared everything – sexcapades, love affairs, breakups; and we always had each other’s backs. One of us is named Buchi (real name), popularly known as Ozone. Buchi and I were really tight buddies. Some people often mistook us for brothers; we did everything together, except sex sha. He was the opposite of me, introverted, mostly reserved, said little outside, except when he was indoors with me; then he could really go haywire.
The first LGBT movie I ever saw was the TV series called Skins. It told the story of a group of friends in college. One of them named Maxi was gay. His friends accepted him for who he was, even though he was going through some persecution from the society around them. A particular scene from the series spoke to me, and quieted those persistent, albeit fading recriminations cast on me by that small part of me, the part that existed because of my religious upbringing, who felt betrayed by my lifestyle. The scene was one where a Muslim man tried to comfort Maxi concerning his sexuality. And the man said: “It’s a fucking, stupid, messed-up world. I have got my God; he speaks to me every day. Some things I just can’t work out, I let them be, even if I think they are wrong – because I know one day He will make me understand. I have got that trust, it’s called belief.”
‘Skins’ was the first of the LGBT movies that eventually led me to changing. Then I saw Noah’s Arc, and Philadelphia. After seeing Philadelphia, I had to re-define my life and discontinue my reckless lifestyle. YES! Fucking around is really messed up. Hopping from one bed to another, sampling a plethora of dicks – it may seem like fun, but at the end of the day, ruination is often the result.
And so, as I was still trying to find my footing in the new direction I’d chosen for my life, my friend Buchi was going through a lot of self-persecution. He had such a perfect life – course rep of his class, recipient of two scholarship programmes, very intelligent and God-fearing. It was because of his Christian beliefs that he felt so tortured. He fought his sexuality hard; he would always tell me that the day would come when he would change and God would love him back. I’d always laugh at what I perceived was his ridiculousness.
When we resumed for our third year in March 2012, Buchi told me his family had discovered his sexuality during the holiday; his parents had caught him with some dude naked. He wept on my bed while recounting the ordeal. I did my best to console him. But he remained inconsolable. I mean, he stopped crying eventually. But in the coming weeks, he changed. He became a completely different person, extremely depressed, and said very little during our get-togethers in our clique. I strived to cheer him up, looking for the best way or the most suitable words to bring some cheer out of him. But he remained stubbornly withdrawn. He also told me nothing more about the situation at home.
At some point, his melancholy began to irritate me. I began to hope he would get out of his sorry state already. But he got worse and the depression took another dimension. He took to being a loner, shunning my company and that of our mutual friends. He looked like one whom happiness had deserted. He found no joy in anything any longer.
One afternoon of May, while trekking to my room after classes, he told me he would just kill himself so that his parents could be put out of their misery. I laughed at the absurdity of his remarks. He bristled at my response, and in a show of temper that had being lacking from him in quite a while, he turned on me and lashed out, calling me an insensitive bitch, and saying how I had no idea what he was going through, that I should stop pretending like I cared. His upbraiding stung, and I got mad and walked away in anger, telling him to go and die.
May 31st will forever be one of the saddest days in my life. At about 8am, I got a message from Buchi which read: No one should know the reason for my demise. I’m sorry I couldn’t hold on for that long. Later, dear.”
I was puzzled at the message. I read and re-read the text. I guessed he’d sent it earlier than I received it, because my phone had been off since the previous evening. I tried calling him, but I couldn’t get through.
Several minutes later, news that had been circulating around school for some time finally got to me – news about a student who committed suicide. For a quick terrifying moment, I wondered if it was Buchi, but then I quickly erased the thought from my mind. That Buchi could take his life was incomprehensible to me. He could never, I thought.
Then the pictures then started circulating around the BBM network, and it eventually got to me. The limp body hanging from a noose… It looked an awful lot like Buchi. I could not believe it. I refused to believe it. I stared at the picture and rejected the thought that that dejected figure hanging lifelessly could be my friend. Then, I retrieved the text message he sent me, correlating his words and the picture, my mind coming gradually to a conclusion I just couldn’t accept. Shocked and panicked, and very close to tears, I raced to the spot where the body was hanging. He was still hanging, a shocking spectacle for passersby and students.
And there, I saw him, my friend, limp, lifeless, like a vegetable. I broke down then and cried. I wept like a child, inconsolable and benumbed by the mindless tragedy. The police had not yet come to take his body, and someone then beside me told me his body was found hanging at around 5 or 6 am, and that he had left a suicide note saying: THE CONTROVERSY IS OVER. No one understood the meaning of the note.
But I did. And with the knowledge of the reason for his suicide came crushing guilt. Amidst my tears, I felt burdened with guilt for not being there for him, for not being that friend to comfort him, for not trying hard enough, for not encouraging him well enough, for switching my phone off all through the night. I cursed at myself, and I cursed at the society who contributed to his death, and I cursed at his family for bringing about his depression.
By the time I got back to my room, mutual friends of ours were flocking about in my compound. Several students asking questions that I couldn’t and didn’t want to answer. I simply sat on the floor and stared blankly into space, crying some more until there were no more tears left to spill. When the crowd became unbearable, I excused myself, extricating myself from their midst. I simply wanted to be alone, to get away, to run; where to run to, I did not know. I simply found myself in a bus bound for Port Harcourt.
While in PH, I noticed the news of Buchi’s death had spread like wild fire, and was on almost every blog, including Linda Ikeji’s blog. And what irritated me the most was the fact that it was the picture of his lifeless body hanging from the noose that was circulating all over the cyberspace. I stayed in PH for two good months, holed up in my friend’s house, rarely going out to see anybody. I was also incommunicado with my friends because I was tired of all the questions everyone asked when they called.
In my second week in Port Harcourt, a strange number called me. I refused to pick the call, but after several persistent rings, I answered. The caller was Buchi’s mother. She told me that she knew Buchi and I were best friends, and that Buchi talked about me a lot to his siblings. They had slated his burial for the coming Friday and she wanted me to be present. Throughout her monologue, I remained mute.
And then, she said, “Do you know Buchi was gay?”
Something snapped inside me at that question, something that raved for the alleviation of the guilt I felt, something that sought to make someone else feel as bad as I did. And with a rage-filled voice, I snapped at her, “That is why you killed your own son.” And I cut the call.
She swiftly called back. Again, and again. But I simply stared at my phone until it stopped ringing. And that was the last I heard from her. Finally, I was left to dwell on my grief, on my dejection, on how much I missed my friend, on how angry I was at him for making me go through this, and on my journey to healing.
Written by Law