Originally published on nigeriangenius.com
The year is 1994. I am born. I exist.
The year is 1998. I’m a four year old girl. My family and I have just relocated to the US from Lagos. As we settle into the new country, we’re staying with one of my aunts and her kids. One day my cousin announces that she’s taking me to a sleepover at her friend’s house. My childish mind doesn’t know what to expect or what to do, but somehow knows one thing for sure – there will be girls at this sleepover and I want to impress them. I figure the best way to impress them is to rummage through my other cousin’s closet to find the best outfit for the event. My other cousin is a fourteen year old boy. Needless to say, his clothes don’t exactly fit me the way I imagined. However, in my mind, this is the only way to make the sleepover girls like me.
The year is 2002. I’m seven years old. My family is now a little more settled into the American life. My mom opens a daycare centre which introduces me to many new friends. This is around the time my favorite game is “mommy and daddy.” I’m always daddy and my new friends are always mommy. To me, the best part of being daddy is kissing mommy. I don’t exactly know what I’m doing but it feels right and I never really question it. One day, my mom catches me playing this game and I get the worst beating of my short life. This is the first time I realize that people might have a problem with two girls kissing.
The year is 2003. I’m nine years old. Something magical happens this year. I stumble upon my first porno. It is on the “spice channel,” as the kids from school call it. We don’t have cable, so I can’t exactly view the channel because it’s scrambled. However, if timed correctly, the connection evens out for short intervals of about 5 minutes at a time. That is a lifetime of excitement for my budding sexual awareness. Lo and behold, the first porno I ever see is a lesbian one.
The year is 2004. My family moves back to Nigeria. I’m now an “oyinbo ajebuta”. I get my period for the first time. All my friends now have boyfriends, pretend boyfriends or future boyfriends. I’m ten years old. My body is going crazy and all I think about is sex. My body knows what it wants but my mind is having the hardest time reconciling that with how I’ve been told to get what I want – by touching a boy. Nonetheless, I understand what is expected of me, so I begin to lie like a fool to my friends. Lie about having a crush on a boy called Sam. Sam doesn’t exist. Lie about kissing Daniel. Daniel is my best friend of all time but we never kissed. Lie about wanting to marry a big, strong, wealthy man. I never even think about marriage. It is a pathetic cycle. I never stop to think about why I’m lying but on some deeper level, I rationalize that it is necessary for survival.
From 2007 to 2009 I’m in high school. I bury my head in books, study and extra-curriculars, anything to distract myself. I’m generally antisocial but console myself with getting good grades. My attraction to women becomes obvious and clearly sexual. However, I keep telling myself it’s nothing and simply platonic. Best friends come and go as my feelings ultimately become more than platonic for them. One girl in particular just won’t stay away no matter how hard I try to end our friendship. The desire for her is killing me. Being around her makes me feel like I’m completely losing my mind but the fear of getting caught is too big to act on my feelings.
The year is 2010. High school is over. I move to Canada for university. During my first week at school, I meet a real life, out bisexual girl. I can’t believe it. She openly declares her sexuality in front of me and others like it’s nothing. I don’t say anything but the audacity of her words stick with me. Fast forward a few months, I meet J. J starts as a friend, then a best friend, then someone I’m around pretty much every waking hour. She’s built slender, with golden brown skin, dreadlocks and a smooth accent that’s the warmest blend between Bible Belt Southern and Bajan Caribbean. I’m in love. Literally. I’m hopelessly in love. Suddenly, all the love songs, movies and poems make sense. Marriage doesn’t seem so stupid. I ache more than ever. She is straight, has boyfriends coming and going. I never say anything about how I feel. Till this day, I wonder if she knew how I felt. She probably did. This goes on for a few months. I try to downplay it as much as possible. I tell myself over and over: “I’m straight.” One day something happens, I can’t remember exactly what but it is a pivotal moment in my life. I head back to my dorm room, admit to myself that I genuinely am in love with J. I burst out in tears and have a complete breakdown. It is the first time I allow myself to even think it possible that I could be gay.
So, when people ask me: “How do you know you’re gay?”or “When did you become gay?”, I really can’t say anything other than: “I was born this way.”