By Omoleye Omoruyi
“Ade! What are you saying? Tell me, what are you saying?”
Ade’s mom shouted on top of her voice. She looked afraid and already had tears in her eyes. This was too much for Mama Ade, who is known to be conservative and religious. Two concepts that should not ordinarily be in the same sentence.
Ade had spent the last three years trying to make his mom open-minded. He told her why she should be open to listening to other sides of the story. Why she should respect people’s choices and try to understand situations before arriving at conclusions. He also spent some time trying to make her understand why misinterpreted religion cannot be the sole yardstick to determine how people should be tagged and regarded. He really did a lot. It was part of his five-year de-radicalisation mission.
He completely understood the necessity to make people more open-minded, and thought the world needed to stop celebrating coming out.
“It is flawed! Why do I as a young person have to sit my parents down and tearfully tell them I am gay or queer,” Ade told his partner Mike, who was already weary of Ade’s regular fights against the heterosexual apologist notion coming out.
“See Ade, calm down. You need to be careful how you go about these things. You are doing well with your mom, but the way you are going about it outside of your house seems extreme. Don’t be like those you are fighting against,” Mike said, holding Ade’s head on his lap.
“Whatever! The coming out narrative is a sob story. For centuries, people have been forced, by the law and societal norms, to hide who they are. How else to change that narrative than by being severely aggressive with it?”
“Many of these people you are fighting grew up with conservative spirits and hardly understand anything outside their purview. It is our job to make them open minded like you are doing with your mom, and we may not even need to come out. You know these people don’t make attempts to understand these things. Just like opposing religious sects hate on each other for absolutely no reason.” Mike continued.
Ade remembered this conversation when he was trying to tell his mom he is queer. His five-year goal of reorienting his mom had fallen in to the gutters when it came to that.
“Ade, talk to me. I need to know what you are saying,” his mom had frantically asked.
Ade was lost. Should he continue the conversation and tell her it is a prank? Mama Ade had known Mike for over two years and always told them that she was not keen on grandchildren but on having someone around to share problems with.
“I am not forcing you to have grandchildren. At least, you taught me that not all couples want children, but having a life partner is a necessity. How don’t you know this already?” Mama Ade told Mike when he once visited.
How was he to tell his mom that Mike is the partner he wanted to be with for the rest of his life. “Mike is my life partner,” Ade always whispered to himself anytime his mom started her life partner ‘mentorship talk.’
He could not tell Mama Ade. She was going to break down. He loved her too much and she was already crying profusely. He thought his lectures and reorientation moments will make this easier. So, he told her it was a joke. Sigh.
Ade was also reorienting his friends, like he had been doing with his mom. And, those ones not only emotionally blackmailed him and Mike, they cut ties with them.
“Are you joking? You are what again? So, all this time we were together you have been a fucking homo or you just thought to start fucking guys now?” One of his friends, Jubril, asked when he came out to him.
“Co-asking,” another friend, Aisha, said.
Mike and Ade looked at each other. This was harder than they expected. They had been having conversations about queer people and seemed to have stopped passing judgement.
“You must be joking. Just tell us it is a prank and let’s move on to other discussions,” Jubril added.
Mike gestured to Ade to leave the gathering to talk. Their friends looked at them in disgust.
“It is not true jare,” Ada cut in as Mike and Ade went to a corner in the restaurant. “Those two are silent womanisers. They probably want to divert our attention from that.” She had always wanted to be with Mike and this thing – his suddenly revealed queerness – is an obstacle.
“We have to tell them it was a joke Ade.” Mike said almost teary-eyed.
“How? Why is everyone like this? I thought we had achieved opening these people’s minds? Are we going to continue living in the dark?”
“These are too many questions Ade. We will go back and tell them it was an attempt to see if they had become open to new ideas and sexualities.”
“They are obviously not!” Ade almost screamed. His friends turned from their table.
“I know. I would have said we should lose all of them as friends, but our job is not done yet. Those people must know they are the ones in a dark.”
Their friends felt relieved when they went back to them and told them what Mike had suggested as a test that they are queer. Ada felt more relieved, knowing her chance is still very much open. Jubril had the intention of continuing the conversation at a later time.
The same thing happened with Ade’s uncle, Babalola, who was queer but married with three kids.
“Common Ade! You know better than to come out to anyone. I am sure your mom almost ate you up when you attempted to tell her. Just get married, have kids and the world will leave you alone. You can meet men secretly. I mean, see me, I still met one fine boy just yesterday night.” He said, laughing hysterically.
Ade wanted to lift his uncle and throw him out through the window.
“What kind of life is Uncle Babalola living?”
“You are asking me? Do you know how many married men are queer in this country? You think they don’t want to tell everyone they are queer too? Ade, I know you are smart. Act smartly and do what I have asked you to do. It is no use fighting society. Besides, I am sure you know many homophobic people are closeted queer guys.”
“I should not be a citizen of this country. I should not be a part of this life silent hypocrisy,” Ade thought to himself.
He did not respond to his smiling uncle before he left. Mike was in the car waiting for him.
“Mike, I am tired. What do we do now? No one is willing to accept our own type of love which is not different from love after all.”
“We keep trying to tell them that love is love.”
Days after the drama, Jubril called Ade and said he wanted to have a conversation alone with him and Mike. He wanted to come out to them.