#TheAlphabetMafia: Being Open But Living In Constant Fear Is This 20-year-old’s Struggle

The Alphabet Mafia is a series dedicated to the queers of Africa. The series intends to show that the lives of queer people are just as complex as everyone else’s. Or just as basic.

When did you get curious about your sexuality?

I started questioning my sexuality around April 2018. I recall one of my friends tried to set me up with one of his friends, who mentioned she was bisexual and wanted to explore. We started talking and she told me she was 16. I was 18 turning 19 at the time so I stopped talking to her. I knew I had always been somewhat fascinated by girls and their bodies but I didn’t think anything of it.

I just always said I was appreciating beauty. I feel like a part of me knew but I wasn’t willing to accept it. I didn’t start identifying as bisexual until the beginning of 2019.

What made you start identifying as bisexual?

In 2019, I was like wait o. This thing might be more than just appreciating beauty. Even when I kissed my family friend in primary school, I didn’t think it was a big deal. I knew I wanted to kiss her, but it didn’t even cross my mind that I liked girls. Anyways, I met this girl. She messaged me on Twitter and we started talking. During that time, I was seeing another guy. He knew I was questioning my sexuality and he knew about the girl. He knew when we started talking but I don’t think I told him when she came to see me. Nothing happened though because I was being a chicken. I used the fact that I was seeing someone else as an excuse, which was silly because I invited her over and I knew what she wanted. 

Do you remember how you felt that day? 

I was excited, but also anxious. I was thinking “oh god, don’t let anybody enter this room“.

We ended up just watching NatGeo Wild and talking throughout the day. There was a documentary on polar bears or something like that. As God will have it, the guy ended things with me during that same period. So I hit her up again like “yo, come through.” And she came over again. This time, we kissed. Nothing else. She is really pretty, very attractive. But the real awakening happened at an event in October.

Tell me about it. 

I was hanging out with a guy I met off twitter. We were having a normal conversation and then his wife came. And I was like oh my gosh, how is someone so perfect? Long story short, I had a crush on his wife. I was talking to him normally and everything was okay but when his wife came, I couldn’t stay there anymore. I had to excuse myself. I saw his wife at another event and I turned in the opposite direction. I was contemplating whether or not to talk to her. I was wondering if she would remember me or not. I would make a case for talking to her and then counter it. I don’t even want to say what I used to think when I saw his wife. 

Tell me. 

Ah, I can’t say it o.  

Okay. Tell me about your first kiss.

My first kiss was with a girl. She was my family friend. We used to play mummy and daddy. And now that I think about it, I think we were a bit too grown for that. She was younger than I was with a year in age and school.

How old and what class?

I feel like primary 4 is too old for that. I was 8 or so and she was in primary 3. I can’t really remember the exact time log. But I know we used to make out. Should I call it make out? We were children. We would kiss each other, touch each other, stuff like that. It did not feel like anything serious to me. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong maybe a bit weird, but not wrong.

This same girl, I remember I told someone to dare me to kiss her. I wanted to kiss her but I felt like it would be weird to just go and kiss someone. But when they dared me, I went to her and I said they dared me to kiss you and she said okay.

Have you ever dated a girl?

I have never been in a relationship with a girl. I almost dated one last year. It didn’t happen because I didn’t like her as much as I thought. I have been out with girls but not so much. I am still new in the game so I don’t have a lot of experience. I currently have feelings for one of my friends. I told her about it but we haven’t discussed it because I don’t want to bring it up and bother her. If she wants to discuss it, we will. If not, I will let it slide. 

How deep in the closet are you?

I’m out but also not out. Funny story, the day I came out, I called my sister crying on the phone and we were having a debate on twitter about LGBTQ pride. This was 2019. We were discussing whether or not people should celebrate pride in Nigeria and some people voiced their valid concerns. I did not say anything but I was concerned that the streets won’t be safe. Queers were accusing allies that rejected the idea of an open pride in Nigeria of being fake allies.

In my head, I was thinking it’s not fair to say stuff like that to allies because a lot of people that are out now, first hid under the cover of allyship. I felt attacked by it because I was an ally that was also bisexual. I had never said it to anybody. I hadn’t even said it to myself but I knew that I liked girls and boys. Eventually, I told myself, Auntie you like girls, just accept it. Obviously girls are attracted to me too because I’m a spice but that is beside the point.

When you called your sister, what did she say? 

I can’t remember what exactly happened. I told her that I’m bisexual and I was crying. She said, “ahan, is that why you’re crying?” She told me to calm down, that it’s not a big deal. Unrelated, but there was a time she sent me something for LGBTQ people. I think it was a scholarship thing and I was like, “but I’m not queer na” and she said okay.

She knew I was questioning my sexuality so it’s not like she just sent it out of the blue. On the day of the Pride conversation, I came out to myself. I’m not sure if I came out to my sister first or a random stranger online. I replied to the person’s tweet and then messaged them because I didn’t want to talk about it on the timeline. Next thing, I was telling them I’m bisexual. 

How did that feel for you?

Surprisingly freeing. Oh, before the whole calling my sister and crying day, I had started saying I was queer, but I mostly just said I was bi-curious. Now, I am out on the internet. My brother found out from twitter. Offline, I am out among my friends. One of my roommates knows I’m bisexual. We were having a conversation one day and it slipped. She went oh okay and moved on. There are days I wish I never came out, even though I like being out. The whole thing is conflicting sometimes. 

Why do you wish you never came out?

It is kind of scary. It is freeing, but also scary.

I get that. If you could change anything about your life, what would it be?

I would be straight. It’s not like I don’t like liking girls. It’s just constant fear. I live in fear. What if someone that isn’t meant to find out finds out? What if I’m attacked?

Okay, so yesterday, one of my friends came to see me. A girl I like. Anytime she touched me, I got super paranoid, even though she wasn’t being sexual. I don’t think she noticed it because I tried to mask it. In my head, I was thinking what if one of us mistakenly touches the other person in a way the people around us found inappropriate. We were alone but I felt like we were being watched. And when she left, I started overthinking and crying. I cried for a long time.

I’m so sorry. Do you know why you were so upset?

Everything was just a lot for me that day. Like this is someone I like. She is also queer. Sometimes, I get paranoid in situations like that and start thinking of things that will probably not happen. It sucks. I was just really upset that I can’t just live in peace. That wasn’t the first time it happened. Sometime last year, I had a dream that my mum found out about my sexuality and she disowned me. I spent most of that day crying. I don’t like things like that.

When I tell my friends, they say don’t care about what people say. It’s so easy to say don’t care about what people say. Do you think I want to care? I don’t but my fears are valid. My queer friends get it though. Also before I came out, I used to wonder why my queer friends were so paranoid but now I get it. The reality didn’t dawn on me until I accepted myself. It sucks how we can’t live in peace. When I’m with a girl I’m attracted to, I feel reluctant to hug her. When I do I would think what if someone thinks we are lesbians and attacks us. There’s a lot of what-ifs. If I could change one thing about my life, I wouldn’t be queer.

Have you ever experienced homophobia?

I have obviously had people say homophobic rubbish around me like in school but I’ve never had homophobia directed at me.

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