My first pride, like for a lot of Nigerians, was not in Nigeria. I had just moved to college. I had never heard of it but my best friend asked me to come. It was the summer holidays, so I was back with my very conservative Nigerian family. I could not tell them. However, I knew I had to find a way to go to pride anyway. I ended up lying that I had to tutor my friends at school for the weekend, and they let me go.
I was so excited for my first ever pride! I designed a shirt, wore bum shorts that revealed my gorgeous black thighs, went lengths to shave my legs (you know. just in case I ran into a girl I liked at the parade, I wanted to look hot, freaking hot). I had never felt anything like it. I felt free, I felt alive, I marched, I screamed, I cried, I danced, I was safe. I went with my best friend, an eastern European teenage queer boy who just “got me” from my very first day. As an immigrant, you’re instantly drawn to people who just get you. His name is forever etched in my heart in the most beautiful way.
My first sexual experience with a woman taught me shame. It was very emotionally abusive and one day got physical, at which point, I left and never turned back. I also had a supportive friend circle, who was able to see how abusive the situation was and pull me out. Great friends that love and know you are important. It is also important to talk about your abuse with someone you trust or dedicated domestic violence numbers. TiersNigeria (for those in Nigeria), I hear does a great job.
Intimate partner abuse and violence in same sex relationships is real too. We have gotten older and have talked about this experience like adults in more recent years and she has apologised. Internalised homophobia, in retrospect, is what I blame for this. I could never be seen with her in the day time, but she would always come to me at night. She did this up until the day of the physical abuse, when I refused to let her in anymore.
We would be consumed by our own heavy attraction for each other, have sex and she would afterwards recite the rosary and ask God to forgive her of her sin of loving another woman. She would be cold to me afterwards and treat me like filth, some days asking me to leave her room in very sharp dismissive tones. I could not reconcile this then. This woman that had just made love to me, and I to her in the most beautiful and passionate of ways 30 minutes prior, why was she acting this way to me now?!
This woman was wildly attracted to me, yet viewed same sex attraction as being from the devil. That’s why she treated me that way. I, on the other hand, did not know who I was then. After the situationship ended, I took the time to fully heal from it. Today, I am a doctor that never forgets to screen for intimate partner violence and abuse.
But my story gets better. I moved to yet another country where the love that is so natural to me is criminalised. I however was lucky to find a group where we organised pride under the guise of “beach days”. Oh I loved it! I have memories of singing to the beautiful blue skies with other women that loved women to “marry that girl, marry her anyway”. The song was ‘Rude’ by Magic.
When I moved yet again, I got into my first ever relationship with a woman. She is a gorgeous artist, a black woman, one who carved entire worlds in my heart like she did on the canvas with her paint brush, one who carved desire with her finger tips on my body, sent me flowers just because, and her primary love language was physical touch.
It broke down my barriers of hating my attraction to women, my body, my own sexual desire, and also addressed my shame. She always introduced me as her partner; I met her family and her co-workers. She loved me. This also completed my healing. I remain friends with this woman till date. I should mention I met her in church too!
I should also mention that somewhere in this story, I did get married to a cis man. A gorgeous black man over 6ft, kind, respectful and amazing. I liked him, so I said “I do”. Oh, how badly I wanted things to work out. But my heart didn’t skip like it did when I looked at my female lover, I didn’t desire to write him poetry at 12am, I didn’t desire to feel his hands all over my body. With him, my body didn’t quiver, give out those deep breaths of desire. My body didn’t gasp when I saw him like it did when I let myself imagine a woman on top of me, holding me. Still, I remain friends with this man till this date.
Someday in the future, I hope to come home to a beautiful black woman I am so in love with, and who is heads over heels for me. Maybe my “God, when?” will be answered. I believe in love, I believe in story telling, I believe in freedom. I tell this story so other queers, especially other queer Nigerians reading this can see that they are not alone.
I think one of the most beautiful things in this life is love in all forms (romantic and non-romantic). It makes life worth living. I have held women’s hands across 4 continents now, looked into their eyes (in the casually playful flirtatious way) and I have loved them. And I will keep loving, till my last breath. Happy Pride 2020 lovelies!
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