Human sexuality is a complex rainbow. If, like me, you were raised in Nigeria as an excessively religious person, but unlike me, you remain a religious fundamentalist jerk and homophobe in your adulthood, you may never learn about or experience the full range of human sexual behaviour and human experience of sexuality.
Nigerians generally are raised to view sex as a taboo subject, evil even, and patently diabolical, if it veers off the track of missionary style between a “man” and a “woman”, both of these gender entities being mutually exclusive in biology and behaviour.
However, in both my professional and social experience and interactions, humans are neither rigid nor simple in their sexual preferences and expression, at least not as viewed in the Nigerian moral and social framework.
There are men who like women a lot and don’t like men at all. There are men who like women a lot and like men a little. There are men who like men a lot and don’t like women at all. And there are tens of shades in between: men who like men and women equally; women who like men and women equally; women who like women only, women who like men and do the occasional woman… In short, there are as many variations as one can possibly imagine, and I have come across many.
But what we all see and imagine, in it’s simplest form, are straight men and women, and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Queer) persons. Unfortunately, it is often not that straightforward at all. Fortuitous events have made people, who had never experienced a certain part of their sexuality, understand more about themselves, the same selves that they had lived with for decades.
And this is where learning and experience begin. We have all always thought that human emotion and love drama only occur between males and females. Wrong. In 2012, I learnt about a gay guy who beat up another gay man because the said guy disrespected his boyfriend. It was as intense as the fight involving a guy trying to “defend the honour of his lady”, whatever the hell that means. Also, you would think only immature young men kiss and tell. Wrong again. I have heard stories of women who brag to other women about the women they have “chopped”, and some would even bet with fellow women that they would “chop” a certain young woman in the neighborhood. I have heard about a lesbian who would call her friend at odd hours, crying of heartbreak from another lesbian, who recently discovered that she was actually bisexual and preferred the penis of a particular new guy to the vaginas of her numerous previous female lovers. There was also this lady who was complaining bitterly the other day that her female lover who was bisexual and married with a child was not paying her any attention and only wanted to fuck and move on to enjoy her own husband, leaving her, an obligate lesbian, crazily horny and lonely. And there was the woman who left her husband and three children to pursue her love of other women, when she no longer found joy or fulfillment in sex with her husband. Who knows, maybe she never really did find joy and fulfillment in heterosexual sex, and only had to get married to fulfill social obligations and family expectations.
In all of this, there are usually intense human emotion and suffering involved, and it would indeed be callous to dismiss them with a wave of the hand. Men cry over men because of love. Women experience heartbreak from men and from fellow women. Men have been known to lose it when they discover that their wives of many years find time to go down on the occasional woman. The drama in human love and sexual behaviour is definitely not restricted to heterosexual relationships alone. It exists on every point of the rainbow.
There was the fellow who had always known that he was gay through and through. When his friends fancied girls in primary school, he never did and he thought his relatively uncorrupted mind was due to his outstanding Christian upbringing. Puberty came, accompanied with a brigade of raging hormones, and sexual urges arrived strong and potent, but not in the expected direction. Girls did not interest him one bit. But he was a Christian and he believed there was nothing prayer could not do. He prayed and eventually got married to his Christian heartthrob. Six years after, he still hadn’t consummated the marriage. He just couldn’t get it up with his wife. The usual early morning tumescence would become flaccid instantly at the touch of his wife. Several trials with commercial sex workers did not help either. But he would go for hours nonstop with a gay partner. Interestingly, he liked the idea of being married and coming home to his wife. When the wife could no longer cope, she called a meeting of the man’s family, came clean, and packed her things and left in search of “a real man with a real penis”. Her husband became depressed and suicidal and was desperately in search of whoever was capable of exorcising him of the “spirit of gayness”.
There was also the guy who always knew he was gay and had gay lovers till he was 26. Then he responded to an altar call in church one day to dedicate his life to Christ. He “repented” and stopped seeing his gay partners. A few months after, he found that he could neither form a stable relationship with women nor even be turned on enough to have sex with them, no matter how extraordinary their anatomy were. So he returned to his gay partners, and was struck with guilt after a few months. He kept swinging from guilt to “re-dedication” and back, until his psyche could no longer cope and had a psychotic illness, necessitating a psychiatric consult.
And there was the case of two gay guys who married two bisexual women unbeknownst to any of the parties involved. One of them later began to suspect and piece the information together when the men would go on long trips and the women spent too much time behind closed doors, ostensibly comparing notes on current fashion trends.
It is not likely that we would learn to appreciate the sexual diversity in nature or appreciate the range of human sexual emotion on offer if we are unwilling to free ourselves of deeply rooted bias, malignant religious indoctrination and inability to learn to be empathic and less judgmental.
Humans are humans. Humans are sexual in a complex manner. And humans can and do misbehave socially irrespective of sexual orientation and sexual behaviour. Learning to understand these things is the first step in understanding human behaviours, preventing undue human suffering and learning to become better human beings ourselves.
Written by Olatunde Olayinka Ayinde