My story does not start with a tale of how my childhood was littered with feelings for girls my age and the ‘what is wrong with me?’ thoughts. Granted, I started my sexual journey as a lesbian even though I didn’t know then what a ‘lesbian’ was, but I was not afraid to try again and again so the taboo part didn’t come immediately. And when it finally came, I simply moved on to boys.
Boys did not stop me from touching, kissing and ‘smooching’ girls when I had the chance to sha. That is all it was for me: being, doing. I really just flowed with what my body wanted and, sorry to say, what was available at the time.
Things got decidedly more complex when I started getting repulsed by men, the body dysmorphia began to set in, and the thought of children scared me to tears. Still, I did not have a name or tag for all of this; I was still very much the woman I grew knowing I was—daughter to my parents, sister to my siblings and that crazy female friend with a big sense of self and shaky morals.
For a good part of my adolescence I was not attuned to my Self, rather the expectations of the Self that had been thrust on me, and I was alright working with that. If anything, I was more comfortable in who my mental health had made me out to be: broken, wounded, and damaged…those colourful, yet not so colourful words sat well with me. I defined myself by those words, thinking they were all there was to me.
My early adulthood was a tale of dancing with capitalism, racing to make money and catch up with my peers. I still was not conscious of my Self. I had changed my circle of friends a few times until I landed with the ones who make up my support system now. They are queer people too and the glaring similarities we shared caused me to pause and ponder if I was being my truest self. Coincidentally, I found myself with a little free time and while looking for where to volunteer, was directed to a certain NGO and LOL; I have not been the same since.
From my story so far, you can see that I already knew I was bisexual; I was a very proud and verbal bisexual. I never hid my interest in the female human body; a part of it was performance for the male gaze (I forgive myself for that because I know better now) but the majority of it was simply because I did, genuinely, fancy the human female anatomy. This NGO shattered all I knew, all I thought I knew, and exposed me to the parts of my Self I was maybe denying and ignoring; till today, I cannot reconcile who I was before they happened to me—and this is NOT a complaint.
As if that was not enough life changing stuff, to make things…better? I heard the TED talk by Thandie Newton, ‘Embracing otherness, embracing myself’ and that was the final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. My entire existence crumbled and the Self that was carefully nestled in the room I had built over the years with bricks handed me was killed, never to rise again.
I was forced to address parts of myself I was told were not real or right. I had breasts, a vagina and womb therefore I was a woman, but what did that mean to me? Was that all I was? Did I feel complete and genuine? When I was not wearing makeup and stereotypically feminine attire to prove that I belonged to that group of people, was I still this woman? Without these things, I physically presented more masculine so really, what did this mean for me?
The more I asked these questions, the more the aversion to sexual activities with cis-het men and the body dysmorphia tapped me on the shoulder and said: LOOK AT US, WILL YOU? Still, I did not pay full attention. I took a picture one day at work in 2018 where I looked so much like my brother and all I had been running away from, all that my heart had been telling me recently, rang LOUD. There was more to me and I needed to face it, embrace it.
I am an androgynous, gender non-conforming queer person.
A mouthful, I know, but those are the tags that best explain where on the spectrum I finally sit and feel complete, safe, and true! This was just the beginning of the journey for me; I had a way to identify. But how could I live in this identity?
What do I wear? Am I still going to use the usual pronouns? Do I still like cis-het men or are they completely off the table? Do I need to come out? What IS coming out? What do I like sexually? Do I need to inform my friends about this new reality? Do I need to tell my family? Do I have to get rid of who I was and create who I am now? Where is the starting point, really?
I had, and still have, so many questions on how best to navigate my reality. It has not been easy, but it has been worthwhile. I breathe better, I smile and laugh from my heart now, I see the sun, and I feel the air on my skin. Getting to this point, I had to become deliberate in what I fed myself; the music I listen to, the books I read, the social media accounts I follow, the people I surround myself with, the information I let out and keep to myself—I had to actively and deliberately show up for myself daily which was not as easy as it may seem from reading it.
There were tears, I have lost friends, I keep secrets from my family and relatives, I lie to protect myself—and I still dress like a cis-het woman more times than not to quell the suspicions that could cost me the things I need to move up in life, to get where I would no longer need to be anything-passing. My struggle is not over; I am queer but I am still kinda quiet about it for my safety. Notwithstanding, nothing can dim the light that now shines in my heart.
And oh, I have the best girlfriend who loves me and reaffirms my reality by using my new pronoun. That is singularly the most affirming thing anyone can do for me: use, my, new, pronoun. Until I am able to use my full chest to declare who I am now, I remain in my open-door closet: quietly queer but here nonetheless.
— written by The Scribe
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2 thoughts on “I’m an androgynous, gender non-conforming queer person”
And someone will say that being queer is “unAfrican” but yet we read and hear the experience of people who live this life – day in and day out. I’m grateful to read stories of everyday LGBTQ people. It takes the loneliness away.
Can you please share the name of the NGO? It’ll be good to follow their work if they provide resources one can use to enlighten and educate oneself. Thank you
Unfortunately I can’t share any identifying information. Some of the NGOs that address LGBTQ+ issues in Nigeria are
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