Being outed, openly, maliciously. Your details, your very secrets laid out for the whole of your world to know.
We grow up, taught early on that to be gay is to be evil. By the time we accept that we are, indeed, gay Africans, we have learnt to hide. Sometimes we hide so well, we hide it from ourselves.Earlier this week, an anonymous whistleblower shared the story of a secretly gay man in Lagos who is married.The story was shared after the disgruntled wife sent a message to online counselor, Joro asking for advice.
But, this is a part of us that will not just 'vaporate, however we deny it.
We get married, (poor spouses). Some may argue it is selfish of us. But, we kuchus know it is almost inevitable. We wonder whether we would actually become straight if we have a child or two? Or, failing that, and under pressure by family....., get married to unknowing spouses, hoping against hope that that which we are, after having prayed for, exorcised, fasted against, will vanish in the loving arms of delighted spouses....
And then find the need to live lives of necessary deceit to survive.
When the exposure occurs in the newspapers, every member of the kuchu community rushes to the papers with the most complete story. It has happened to one of us. We want to know what details got out. We know who they have been sleeping with, who they had sex with...., sometimes they have been so closeted that few in the kuchu communities know about them, and we wonder how they kept their secret for so long and so well....., and shudder inside, hoping against hope that it will never be us, that the inevitable lies will follow us to the grave and beyond.....
It is a climate of fear. Living in enemy territory every day of one's life. Exposure as a spy almost inevitable however well imbedded you are. So, you must fear, and hope. and pray.
And, it is that fear that makes us so vulnerable to blackmail and persecution.
I will borrow the pic from a recent Human Rights Watch report about the unlegislated effects of Nigeria's anti-gay marriage law. That pic by Glenna Gordon......, somehow grabs the ethos, the hidden, tough to understand reality of a queer African at home. Take the time to read the report if you can.
Sometimes, after years of passing for heteros, we actually believe the myths of our luck and invulnerability.....
Gosh, freedom is only precious when you actually know the chains of fear that can follow you every moment of your adult life. How does one reconcile with it?
I salute all queer Africans. You live lives of courage, however much you might not recognise and know it.