When I was thirteen years old I came out to my mom. I guess I won’t be wrong to say that my coming was more of an accident than a choice.
You see, when I realized that I had sexual desires for boys rather than for girls, as is the general norm in my society, I became scared and even began to hate myself. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t be like most of my friends and family who had no problems getting girls. After a lot of silent tears and prayers to God to cure me of this sickness (that was how I viewed homosexuality back then) I eventually decided to take the easy way out — “suicide.”
I took an overdose of sleeping pills, but fortunately (or is it unfortunately), my suicide note which did not disclose any reason for my suicide attempt was discovered early and I was rushed to the hospital where I survived to tell this story.
After my suicide attempt my mom refused to relent on finding out the reason for my attempted suicide until with tears in my eyes I was forced to tell her the truth that I’m gay.
Growing up in Nigeria, specifically the northern part of the country which is Muslim-dominated, coming out is not an option for most LGBTI people. The stigma and discrimination is not something most people can endure, in addition to the stigma and discrimination under Islamic law. Being gay may lead to a death sentence while under Nigeria’s criminal law. It carries a sentence of fourteen years imprisonment.
It’s been almost twenty years now since I came out to my mom and throughout these years we have never really talked about my sexuality, but lately she has been on my neck to find a girl and marry. It’s not like she has forgotten that I once told her I’m gay, but like most African parents, she still thinks being gay is like a phase one goes through that will eventually come to pass, or a sickness that can be cured. I keep trying to explain to her that I would gladly marry a girl but that would mean me living a lie and I’d rather stay true to myself than be what others want me to be.
Right now I’m contemplating whether I have to come out to her again, to remind her of the fact that I once told her I’m gay so she would drop the issue of me getting married to a girl and be happy for me if I find true love with a man like me.