What is a man? What is he not? Is he less of a man if he likes another man? What does it feel like to not want the world to know who you truly are? How do you live as a different person while feeling you should live like another?
Obviously, it is a treacherous ordeal to feel different from what others consider to be normal. To battle with sexual identity is a war that lasts for a lifetime. To imagine of a war that you’ve to fight every second of your life while trying to balance your sanity and survive in this tumultuous world is exhausting.
In my quest to understand what makes people gay, or even how it feels to be gay, I came across very insightful realizations. I had purposed even to be part of a gay transaction in order to truly discern its roots and how it thrives. That did not happen. But I had a chance to meet a gay person who explained to me what his struggles with sexuality look like on a daily basis.
Of course, the issue of homosexuality is a contentious subject among Africans. Although it has silently existed for centuries, it has been demonized, making the ones who practice it feel lesser of human beings. To be termed as normal human beings, therefore, they’ve hidden behind cloaks of pretense, doing it discreetly so as not to attract attention and face public shaming, stigma and judgement.
To not understand a subject, yet make final conclusions about it is a common practice for many of us. In the best words, it can be termed not as ignorance but foolishness. It is only a foolish person who claims to have knowledge of which they don’t understand. In its entirety, therefore, the subject of homosexuality needs to be looked at with a more critical eye.
To say the least, I am no authority in this field. But as a man who has a responsibility to spread gospels through my word, I strive to seek understanding of that to which I have little or no understanding of. And this, for the purposes of my Christian brothers, where I am one, is not a battle of religion. While the views and perspectives of the church are admissible and highly regarded in this matter, at the moment of this writing, my bible was left out of the picture.
I write this with a heart of a man who is liberal and open minded, free of judgment and condemnation. I stand to hear the tales of men and women, to be that person they can talk to when they world has closed its ears, and to be a pillar where those who’ve been inflicted with pain and sorrow can find support and solace- a shoulder they can cry one. I uphold my principles, but I don’t want to impose them on anyone as we have the rights to assume the shapes of lives that we desire.
Last week on a Wednesday evening, if I am not wrong, I met a young man in his late 20s at Aquarium Lounge in Westlands. I kept him late for a while because, well, the devil had decided to throw me into a traffic snarl up that lasted more than two hours. I felt like killing myself. I hate wasting my little life stuck in traffic. This is the reason that I badly want to move back to Kisii. Once I have the money, that is.
Never have I ever been to Aquarium Lounge. It is hidden. The guy I contracted to take me there from town reaped a whooping 300 shillings from me. That was a stab on my pocket given that I only remained with 200 bob in my pocket. He delivered me right at the gate of the lounge. That was the only great part in the whole ordeal.
He asked me not to use his real name because he wants to lie low. So we shall assign him Toni. No, Tony because Toni is girlish. You must know Toni Braxton. Every man must know her because we all crushed for her, only heartbreaking us by getting married.
Tony works as an IT guy with an insurance company in Westie. As it happens, he grew up with a guardian. His mom passed years back. The man who was supposed to be his father never wanted anything to do with him so he fled long even before the mum died. Tony knows him. He has tried to man up and see if the man can have a cordial relationship with him but failed miserably. He doesn’t want anything to do with him.
Growing up, Tony missed that manly figure in his life. Like he was always craving for it. Whether this had effect on his current troubles or not I really don’t know. But it is a gap that has stayed with him for years. And now when he is in the presence of men, he feels warm and cozy. So you can imagine what that lack of a manly figure in his life does to him. It is like making him an alcoholic who is only sober when he is drunk. I am just trying to explain the scenario here.
He is the kind of men that wear glasses and shave bald. The shaving, as I think comes from the fact that there’s a Sahara of a desert eating his hair. He was seated. We knocked shoulders and got talking as if we knew each other from childhood. We’ve talked before, from 2016.
He was having a drink. Some beer I guess. I ordered a Novida. As you’re aware, booze and I are arch enemies. Nothing can reconcile us. Our banter continued. He was eager to tell me about his journey as a homosexual.
But his expeditions strongly started in high school. I remember this part because of the statement “walk of life.” A friend of his, who happened to have similar feelings, one day asked him out to the field after night preps. He was to show him what was to be the “walk of life.” That statement really intrigued me so I had to write it because I wasn’t recording the conversation. It was this night that he had his first ever kiss…one which I suppose was the start of the “walk of his life” because from then things escalated.
Since high school is mixed with adolescence and other things, he thought it was a stage that would later pass. He really believed it. It was just a state of confusion. As it happened, it was never to leave. There is much to tell, things that happened from the moment he first had a baby step into his “walk of life.” That is not my point today.
Nearby there is a pack of around four men. There is a beautiful bird. Just one. Commanding the attention of four men, each wanting to impress her. I assumed it belonged to one of the men because he seemed to own it by the proximity of his sitting and the long hugs they had exchanged. The other three men kept up with the pace, perhaps not wanting to be seen as cold, old men that didn’t know life. They drank something more expensive than us. Which was not a problem because we were playing by our lanes and there was no one to impress. That aside, Tony really gets uncomfortable in the presence of ladies.
He met me because he easily identified with me. I knew his baggage and I didn’t judge him. So our meeting is not necessarily where the story is, the story is in this thread. It is a conversation we’d had days before. Here we go.
Him: I wanted to share something about gay perception.
Me: I’m all ears.
Him: First how do you view sexuality?
Me: I really don’t know. I guess it’s something that should naturally manifest itself.
Him: I think sexuality is so diverse. Like there is no specific way to define it. Just like we all love differently whether gay or straight.coz our preferences are so diverse, right?
Me: If I’m liberal I’ll think in that line. Logically or rationally I don’t seem to agree. I’ve read that sexuality is influenced by various things but I think the research is sketchy.
Him: Secondly, you can’t try to be gay. I am. And I can’t explain how it all started. I don’t have any specific thing I did that made me this. And that’s why for this I wouldn’t think it’s anyone’s preference to be gay you know
Me: I’m getting your line.
How does it affect you? If I may ask.
Him: You always feel like a puzzle. A mystery that you can’t really figure out. Wondering why you love people the way you do. Trying out heterosexual relationships, faking it, living a lie among your peers and within your circle .I mean it’s so much for lack of a better word.
Me: That must be a tough struggle
Him: And I think it’s a journey walked by many but everyone handles it different. There are those who have accepted and don’t mind, and then there are those who know who they are but will never let the world know, and they are those who will never find courage to accept it.
Me: Haha. Which of those are you?
Him: Those who will never let the world know
Me: So do you date or something?
Him: I have a girlfriend.
Him: I find it hard to date a guy. I don’t know how to treat a man like a girl.
Him: And I don’t know how to handle a sissy dude. It’s a conflict
Me: That’s complicated. So you’ve never been with a guy?
Him: I have. When I was still searching who I was and trying to figure out what I was feeling about Men. We parted ways after being together for four years .He married and I had to respect it .I had matured within those years and it was something that I had to find ways of dealing with
Me: Wow. So do you feel comfortable being heterosexual as compared to being a homosexual?
Me: Pardon Me I just have a lot to understand.
Him: If I was to talk about the feeling, I would say for a man the feeling is more profound, a different kind of love that makes you feel safe. For a lady it’s something that you really have to work on with your entire mind and effort .it’s really work and you sacrifice so much. And I think for most Men married it’s a struggle of silent battle that only your soul knows but you never know when it will lose the battle.
Me: Quiet desperation indeed.
Me: So you’ll marry a girl and give away your sexuality? If I’m getting you correct.
Him: I will marry a girl to live up to the dream of having a family. That’s what defines you as a man I think according to me. It’s not to please anyone but part of me will be happy to see the manhood in me taking care of a wife and my kids.
Him: You can’t run away from your other side of life. It’s something you will walk with and always try to suppress .I think only one who has been through this conflict can handle this. It’s like you naturally acquire a kind of sense to deal with it .The world cannot understand and the only option is judge, criticize and condemn.
Me: I kind of like how you’ve structured this response. To which I can pose a query; do you think homosexuality is right or wrong? Or it’s not right only that it’s something you have no power over?
Me: The world is full of judgy people. And everyone reacts according to the amount of exposure they have. I guess we can all be excused until we learn how it feels being on the other side.
Him: If I was to define what is right or wrong, I may be inclined to say what suits me or what makes me feel better. Nevertheless, right or wrong is such a wide scope and each can be justified equally in light of the reference or context you borrow from, you know.
Him: And that’s why this will be such a deep secret. It makes you feel so vulnerable. It feels like you are holding a fragile glass in a shaking ground. Or standing at the pinnacle in the midst of windy storms. The moment the glass breaks the whole world will stop, turn and look at you with those human demeaning eyes.
Me: But then speculations stop when people know the truth. They’ll no longer have anything to talk about. They’ll learn to deal with the truth.
Me: Does your girlfriend know?
Him: If she knows she will of course walk away. It’s easy to tell a friend but your lover? No way. She will feel like your love is all a lie. Like it’s not real. And the damage is irreversible.
Me: What’s the worst that could happen if your parents knew it?
Him: I don’t have parents. But I have a guardian.
Me: Sorry for that. What happened to them?
Him: My mum passed on in 2012.I have never lived with my dad. There is no relationship and we never talk.
Me: But you know him?
Him: Yes I do.
Me: Is it him who doesn’t wanna know you or you’re the one who doesn’t?
Him: He has never showed interest even when I tried. I wanted to heal the wounds and form a bridge but he pushed harder coz he has another family
Me: You did your part.
Me: At least I’ve gained some insight on homosexuality.
Him: I have always been reading your work. It speaks so much about whom you are and the ideals you hold in life. Sometimes I feel like you are so real to the point that I feel like I already know you. And that’s why I also wanted you to hear my mind. Not for sympathy but just to see the world from a non judgmental point of view. To realize that sometimes we don’t chose the places we found ourselves. That life will always give you a reason to simplify all our ideologies to one core thing we all share, to be the truest of ourselves and be loved in a human way
Me: I’m an open book because it relieves me to not keep looking over the shoulder.
I’ve been in depressing situations before and learnt that if I was able to lead a life as I am perhaps my chances of leading a better life will increase. I cherish being raw and speaking my mind with boldness.
The world will always talk whether you’re on the wrong or the right. You simply choose the side that you got nothing to lose.
That’s deep. Speaks volume. I like this will keep reading again and again
Me: I quite understand the struggles you’re going through. Each of us is fighting something, only that we are accustomed to seeing others’ burdens and be quick to point them without a deeper understanding of the back story.
Him: Very true. You know why some gay Men will have the audacity to reach out to a fellow man? I will tell you.
Him: Living like this always pushes you to ends that will give you that eureka moment. To hope that you can accidentally bump into a same kind of struggle guy and feel safer or truer. It’s like it authenticates your identity. I would never try to reach out to a straight guy buy I of course can relate with the intentions.
Him: Let Me ask? Would you come out if you were gay?.
Me: Of course. At this point I’ve nothing to lose man.
My background has a lot of lethal and gory stories. I’ve almost Met death and run into realizations that there’s nothing worse to come than what I’ve already experienced.
The thing is, people will always love you the way you are. There is always someone who will.
I don’t fear rejection or loss, or things that put me down. I think if you truly understand yourself, there’s nothing you can’t beat.
Him: You are the boldest and most genuine I have had a chat with. You inject so much positivity that it amuses me. There is so much negativity around the world and when you come across someone who shares their mind like you, man you can’t help but appreciate.
Me: The world is in dire need of positivity.
It’s what makes a man sleep in anticipation of a better tomorrow.
We didn’t continue with the conversation because it had reached its crescendo. We had reached the climax of it. More of it would have diluted its perfection. It is here that we arranged to meet so that we can break that glass. How hard must it be for you to live a lie? To wake up every day and pretend to be who you think shouldn’t be yet find no confidence to be who you think you should be?
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(The supreme hunter in captivity)
Where shall we go, we who wander in this wasteland in search of better selves?