Saturday 28 December 2019

I am who I am and happily so

Untold Facts S4 E5 - Hate Crimes, Impunity and Humanizing Queer Nigerians
I have written this blog in the context of the plight of LGBTQ+ persons of Nigeria as depicted in the YouTube video above.

Not ashamed of me
On the matter of my sexuality, it has not been one I have worn as the representation of who I am, it is a part of my personality and humanity that I have come to understand I do not have to be ashamed of.
Indeed, when viewed in context of some cultural and social influences in my life, it is different and can be termed alternative, but that is for others to presume. My realisation of this state of being goes back to just around the age of 7, I did not understand it, it was just there.
Into my teens, I began to realise there were others that appeared to exhibit the same feelings, though for many for which it was a phase that they appeared to grow out of once they gained the courage to approach the opposite sex. I never had that attraction.
The process to acceptance
Over years, through guilt, self-loathing, and revulsion, I wondered about the way I was, yet, I could not in the search for some solution pretend to heterosexuality by involving someone innocent in my somewhat complicated situation. I had decided, I would rather be single without issue as that was a better recourse than any other.
By my mid-twenties, I had come to accept who I was because there was an environment in which I felt comfortable. Though, when I was about to leave Nigeria, I was being blackmailed, however, I dared the blackmailer to go ahead and expose us with the explanation of how he and I got into the realisation that our desires might be aligned.
In any case, once I had accepted who I was, questions posed to me either had a direct answer or something along the lines of warning the enquirer that they should be ready for the answers to the questions they were asking.
My burden, my expression
Meanwhile, pressure was mounting from other parties to conform, to settle down as they know and become responsible. I was settled in acknowledging who I was and responsible for the choices I made. The point at which my desire was to fulfil a path I chose rather than the requirements of others, I began to find my own happiness whether or not others were happy with me.
From that point, I found fulfilment in same-sex relationships, one that lasted almost 7 years. At work, I was not in the closet as much as I did not set out to make my sexuality a prominent part of my identity, it is the same resolution I took regarding my race, to not be offended by abuse but see it as an opportunity to educate.
I guess there are other aspects of my personality and humanity that endeared me to people and managers who became my allies. My sexuality was never a negative issue, but one to which there was interest and engagement to understand this person. I was probably the first homosexual some got to know beyond the stereotypes.
Closets are claustrophobic
In deciding not to live in the closet, I had ample opportunity to thrive at work and at play, some relationships endured, some transformed into friendships, there were many bereavements, all became my own story of life with its blessings and experiences.
I realise and recognise that back in Nigeria, many suffer for their sexuality, I am no activist, nor do I intend to proselytise, but for a man in his 50s, I want people who have a life like mine that it could get better, there is scope for fulfilment and expression of sexuality in the fulness that allows a person be the best they can be.
I found love again, a year ago, it has brought me amazing happiness, we cherish each moment we have together in this long-distance relationship. We look to eventually ask one to another their hand in marriage and live our lives together somewhere where we can happily exist.
For societies to flourish
Like for instance, we meet in South Africa where the laws protect LGBTQ+ people at work and at play. We can even hold hands or kiss on the streets without the threat of violence. It is not what we want to impose on anyone, it is just a case of living and letting live.
Broadly, in Western Europe, our rights are well protected, few are fearful of being outed as the potency of blackmail has diminished over the last few decades. By that alone, we begin to flourish.
I have watched gay rights activism change laws and bring same-sex marriage to societies that would not have countenanced it only a decade ago. AIDS activism not only helped gay men who were strafed by the epidemic in the late 1980s into the 1990s, it has brought benefits to heterosexual cohorts that were more affected in the global South.
No apology in the quest for justice
Rights denied one section of society eventually creeps to deny the rights of the next vulnerable group, the march of rights must proceed progressively to embrace our diverse humanity. Sententiousness would never help a society heal itself, nor will moralisation to the exclusion of minorities.
Yet, whether societies rise to the acceptance of the other and different or not, diversity would always exist and the persecuted will find their corners to thrive until the right course of justice and history gives them the freedom to be who they are without fear of reprisal or discrimination.
I am who I am, the labels matter not much for the better human I seek to be. I make no apology for finding my own happiness and living the good conscience of the choices that give me satisfaction and confidence in my beliefs. I appreciate might be of different persuasions, that is what human diversity is all about, difference, uniqueness and originality creating people who make the world a better place.

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