The last time that I went to church, because I wanted to, and not because I was attending some friend’s Thanksgiving or going at the behest of a friend, was in 2014.
The Sunday after that Tuesday (January 14) that the Same-sex Marriage Prohibition bill was signed into law.
To understand why the events of that Sunday severed my ties with the church, you have to know that even before then, I’d been increasingly getting more and more dissatisfied with my faith. In addition to other personal conflicts, the more I grew into loving who I was, the more I felt accused by my religion, and the more I resented it for that. Back then, every time I went to church, I came out feeling dirty, like the person inside me wasn’t supposed to be. And since me and that person inside me were becoming best friends, I really, really, really didn’t like the place that made him feel like an abomination. I tried different mental gymnastics to make it okay for me to be gay and still go to church — but it just wasn’t working.
And so, it was with that kind of internal struggle that I stepped into that church on January 19, to meet a service that would soon start celebrating the “good thing” that President Goodluck Jonathan had done for Nigeria.
I could not believe it when the pastor broke out into a joyous sermon on the subject of the antigay law. I sat there, frozen with shock, as I watched the exuberant hallelujahs coming from the congregation. I could not believe this inhumanity that was thriving in a place it shouldn’t belong.
The wound of the passing of that law was still very fresh. I mean, it’d just happened 5 days ago. Memories of the trauma I’d been suffering the past 5 days washed over me. The fear I felt as I walked about on the streets and felt every eye on me like an accusation, as if these people knew and would soon pounce on me. The loss of friends and acquaintances as people unfriended people and burrowed deeper into their closets, cutting off any association that would draw attention to themselves. The homophobic thirst for blood was new and loud and angry and everywhere, and it was scaring all of us shitless. Life had gotten very lonely and very threatened very fast.
And here I was, in the House of God – and THIS was what these people were celebrating. The threat to my safety, security and peace of mind was giving them joy.
My shock turned to anger. The tears that stung my eyes were hot and bitter. I suddenly began feeling claustrophobic, my personal space and safety threatened by all these church people who were shouting hallelujah. I was trembling as I suddenly began to crave for somewhere that did not have these pack of wild animals who called themselves children of God in it.
I got up from my seat right in the middle of the sermon and fled for the exit like someone rushing toward a supply of oxygen. I will never forget the surge of pure rage I felt as I got to the door and an usher tried to stop me. Rage that must have been visible on my face because all I did was look at him, and he stepped aside.
That day, for the first time since I was a churchgoer, I stepped out of a church not feeling dirty because of who I am, but because of where I’d been. Because of the people I’d just been surrounded with. And of all the traumas I’ve suffered in my life, that Sunday is the one that has impacted me the most. The reason why I could never step foot inside a church because I, of my own decision, decided to go worship in the House of God.
Why would I do that when I’ve got Beyoncé? 😀
Happy Sunday, guys.
I am @walteruude on Twitter