A Journey of Self-Acceptance: Being gay and African
“Where you from”, he asked. “Baltimore”. I replied. He chuckled softly in disbelief and asked a second time. Unable to keep the charades going any longer, I decided to come clean and disclose the origin of my accent. As the conversation progressed, I slowly came to the realization that the “Operation Find a Boyfriend” was becoming a failed mission. The moment he asked how far away I lived was the sign and the constant rubbing of my back was the signal. The downward spiral of our conversation was all too familiar: boy meets boy, boy likes boy, boy hears more, boy flees scene. Unable to keep the conversation going any longer, I bade my farewell and exited the bar to my humble abode. Just a few years ago, the prospect of being in a gay establishment, especially a bar or club, was unfathomable.
The road to self-acceptance has not been an easy one. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, I grew up with very limited resources and opportunities. Growing up in a strict Christian household created quite a paradoxical situation because I was gay. Looking back on my childhood, I always knew I was different. Whether it was getting an erection from being around boys or prancing around in my mother’s high heels when she wasn’t home, I knew something was off. As puberty came along, things got a little bit more complicated. I fantasized about boys but was sure I would go to hell for harboring such thoughts. This culminated in a cycle of constant self-hatred and disgust. My reality at the time was that being gay and African were two things that simply couldn’t coexist. My saving grace came when my family made the big move to the United States of America.
The opportunity to live in the United States meant a lot of things. It meant getting the best education in the world, living a somewhat comfortable life and being a part of a society that was much less hostile to gay people. My parents made sure my main focus was solely on my academic pursuits and getting into college. From summer programs to after-school activities to extra tutoring, I lived and breathed school. Getting accepted to a prestigious university with a full-ride scholarship was the icing on the cake. It appeared that channeling my pent-up sexual frustration into schoolwork had finally paid off. However, it wouldn’t be long till my mind would tell me no but my body–my body was speaking an entirely different language.
Throughout college, I was very involved with numerous extracurricular activities and community service project. While I had urges to be sexual with guys, browsing through Xtube once in a while did the trick. It wasn’t until senior year that I yearned for something more physical. Discovering CL, A4A, BGC, and the other infamous hookup sites opened up Pandora’s box. My first CL hookup was a fellow student who I later found out was dating a close friend of mine *awkward silence*. While I never lost my virginity to anyone from these sites, it was quite a liberating time in my life. Upon graduating from college and moving on to graduate school, I decide to venture out into the gay bar and club scene, which bring us full circle to where the story began.
My first gay club experience must’ve been the most uncomfortable situation I’d ever put myself in. Why was I the only Black guy there? Who were those guys with t*ts, and wigs, and lipstick? Why were people exchanging glances and then following each other into the bathroom? All these questions ran through my head as I tried to keep calm. I was in a total state of dysphoria. After subsequent visits, I came to appreciate (more like tolerate) the gay club culture and what it had to offer. As I look back on my journey of self-acceptance and exploration, I know these experiences molded me into the person I am today. The days of being mindful about the swish in my walk or my fashion sense are long gone. I am an educated, funny, sexy, African gay male and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m unhappily single btw so feel free to hit me up!
Tags: African, Dating, Gay male , Self-acceptance, college, gay club, Baltimore.