BY HELEN NIMBE Claustrophobia; is the fear of closed, tight spaces. I never thought I…
“It’s hard being African and gay, here’s my story” – Gift Nwosu
For about a decade now I have been lying to myself, to everyone, to the world, and I’ve come to a moment of realization that putting up a facade for everyone to somewhat show interest in me was not the best way to go about my life.
The big confession: Letting it all out
Most people reading this are probably confused and questioning what this may be about or what the hell I may be referring to but, the truth is, I Gift Nwosu, am gay. I know right. It’s taken me a very long time to come to terms with it, and pretty much everyone was right about me from the start.
I’ve realized that by being silent about who I am after all these years, has been the reason as to why I’m slowly crumbling down, well, not anymore and this is my chance to finally respond.
Now to everyone that I may have known, already know, knows me etc. I’m sorry for never being honest about who I really was/am, I was always meaning to seek help but it’s not as easy as it sounds, the right words to say could never be found but let’s be real, being gay and African / African American is so looked down upon and it’s been extremely toxic on my life especially always having to hear everyone’s views on how they view the gay community, and also having to force myself to agree with what their negative bigoted views might be, just so they won’t suspect anything about me. It’s hard enough already being African in America and now to be African and gay in America? Where will or where can I fit in? It sucks that I could have never been my authentic self around people I was calling “friends” or even “family“. It sucks that I was always feeling like I had to put up a front for people so that comments about me wouldn’t be thrown my way. It sucks that I wasn’t blessed with a family that could somewhat understand what I have been dealing with my entire life. It sucks that literally everyone has questioned me about my sexuality but I always felt the need to constantly disagree. Being surrounded by religious bigots took a toll on me, constantly hearing that gay ppl go straight to hell for being “different” from my family, friends etc, was always disappointing and honestly heart breaking. Others will still assume that one can’t be gay and believe in God but I’m here to tell you l sure as hell do.
Dealing with homophobia and, depression and suicide
Now, I rarely ever commented on the homophobic slurs I would hear from those around me because like I said… I did all of it to protect myself from getting hurt and I’ll elaborate, being an African gay man just sounds made up but it’s real alright. Being gay and African is such a rare thing that I have never even seen before, which is what scared me to hide my identity all these years. I mean come on, death penalties are placed upon people just for being gay back in Africa, which is extremely disheartening but I’m grateful for not being there and facing this because who knows where I would have ended up.
Moving on, during the second semester of my freshman year, I was going through probably the hardest time with life. I was at my lowest low. I felt like I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do/wasn’t being who I was destined to be. I had a lot on my mind and everything was taking a toll on me emotionally, mentally and even physically.
“I was questioning my self worth so much that I was always thinking of ways to hurt myself and just end it all because I was afraid of how the world, society and even my family would see or treat me”
It sounds ridiculous but it’s true.
There were times when my peers would question if I was okay but, I was just putting up a front like everything was fine, like I was happy but, deep down I was screaming for help with no one to hear my cry. During those months I was so depressed and I am still currently battling with depression but, I’m learning to cope and maintain happiness by surrounding myself with those I feel I can be myself around. There are lyrics to a song that recently stuck with me and it quotes “you’ve got the words to change a nation but you’re biting your tongue, you’ve spent a lifetime stuck in silence afraid you’ll say something wrong. If no one ever hears it, how are we gonna learn your song“ and ever since I heard those words, I decided it was time the world learned my song.
All summer long, I was dealing with how I was going to go about my life and I couldn’t think of anything because I felt restricted or have been feeling restricted to be exact. Watching other people come out always made me happy and gave me a sense of hope, yet at the same time, it hurt because I couldn’t seem to bring myself to do the same. I had a dream that I finally came out to the world and it opened up my eyes (literally). When I woke up, it left me thinking “hmm what if” and with that being said, here I am, typing this.
Loosing and finding my true self
This paragraph is me speaking from the heart, now I’m not usually one to say much because I’ve lost my voice after years of suppressing on many many words I’ve had to say I always ask myself “ Who is Gift?” and honestly, I truly don’t know. I’ve lost myself on this journey called life because I was forcing myself to live in fear. It’s been hard holding back on so many things I’ve wanted to say for years, even just the little things but, not anymore. Another set of lyrics that have recently stuck with me quotes “And when your story’s told, and the truth unfolds, they will sing your praises loud, cause you’re story’s gold, if the truth be told” and with that being said, I want to live a life where Gift can be Gift, a life where I get to be free and just be my authentic self, a life where my so called loved ones won’t judge me for being me. In other words, I just truthfully want to be happy and, HOPEFULLY now that I’ve said all I wanted to say, maybe I can start doing just that but the big question is where do I start?
Overall, it’s been an EXPERIENCE “acting” straight but, ones got to do what ones go to do to survive, literally. Most of my life I’ve always wanted to become an actor but, I feel as though the greatest role I’ve gotten to play was this entire “Gift” facade that everyone is fond of.
Now, this message is for everyone. There will be people that will still not completely agree with my “lifestyle” and that’s alright but let me leave you with one last message. “Don’t be like me, don’t be afraid to be who you are or who you want to be, don’t let the thought of the world not accepting you, affect how you go about YOUR life. Live life to the fullest while you possibly can because, it’s way too short. Be you”
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This is so inspiring. So proud of you for taking the first step to come out of your closet.
You are going to be just fine. I do wish I had same courage as you. Being Nigeria and queer is like the biggest misfortune ever. it’s tiring and exhausting! depression becomes a source of comfort. suicide becomes the next go to action. I wish I was as strong as you. I’m tired!