When I was younger, I misconstrued a lot of things, and I grew up with a lot of misinterpretations. This was partly because Nigerians, generally, are sarcastic people and partly because I was a little awkward as a child.
For instance, up until I was about 12 years old, I honestly thought the word ‘indeed’ meant ‘you’re lying’. Because, if I said ‘I’m serious, I didn’t do anything’ the reply was ‘Indeed’ or ‘I’m serious, I don’t like that boy’ ‘Yes… indeed’.
Thankfully, I began to understand sarcasm and I learnt to check my dictionary. Now I see lots of children growing up with misconceptions. But that’s not exactly what hurts me. What hurts me is that they grow, fully into adults, and never bother to rethink or reassess the verity of these misconceptions.
I realized this one day when I was in F block, Moremi, UNILAG. I overheard some cleaners’ children say ‘You know Bolu in my class? He ‘used to’ walk like a girl’. I laughed at first, but later, it dawned on me that this little comment would grow into ‘Bolu is gay’, once those girl grow a little older… and probably for the rest of their lives, they’ll equate Bolu’s walking steps with the notion that he’s gay.
I have decided to tell Bolu’s story. This is to every misconception… misinterpretation… misjudgment…
If you walked up to me and said ‘Your name is effeminate’, I would not mind. In fact, I would laugh with you and say ‘right?’ But that’s not what you did. That’s not what everyone does. They, instead, say ‘Even, your name is effeminate’. And to that, I take great offence. Some even say behind my back that I’m gay. The way some people look at me is simply disturbing. That’s why I’m grateful for some measure of law and order in this country, because I know that I would have been lynched a long time ago if not for the law.
First, let me clear this and put it out there; I AM NOT GAY. This, I very much know. I’m not saying that gay people are not humans, but the same way, most of them are beginning to publicize their homosexuality, I have decided to publicize my heterosexuality. I know some people that know me more than I know me would argue this but I am not. I would not over stress this issue.
Second, I am not effeminate.
You want to know who I am? I’ll tell you.
I like to walk carefully upright because, duh, I’m not really sure any of you would readily come to take care of me when I’m old and bedridden because of some spine condition – a resultant effect of my slouching days. I’m simply looking out for my old self.
I like to clean up after peeing because I, in fact, do not believe the saying that ‘the last drop is for the boxers’. Let me tell you, there are many boys that also don’t like that, but they have to conform. Why? I have no idea.
I clean every chair before I sit down. I don’t know why people snicker when I do that. It makes, entirely no sense because, they don’t troop to my room every Saturday to ask if they can wash my clothes. I wash them myself. It should be none of your business.
I read the latest fashion catalogues and magazines on men’s fashion. Why? Because I’m a man. That’s why. And all these boys want to do the same too o. But they’d rather ask me ‘Bolu, do you think this tie matches?’, than be caught reading a fashion magazine.
I read women’s fashion magazines because I know I’ll get married to a wonderful woman one day, and unlike many men, I want to give my wife fashionable stuff. I see lots of women that are made to carry hideous bags around and wear terrible cloths just because their husbands gave them and they could not have rejected it. Well, I don’t want my woman to go through that kind of horrific experience. And besides, who doesn’t like staring at beautiful women in wonderful cloths?
I gesticulate and wave my hand around when I talk. Because I’m passionate. That’s why.
But let me indulge you for a minute. We’ve agreed that I’m not gay. But let’s say, for a minute, that I’m effeminate. What exactly is wrong with behaving like a lady? I think that when people say ‘That boy behaves like a girl’, they actually mean ‘That boy has no shame. He behaves like a girl’. And I interpret that to mean they believe that being a girl is a lesser calling than being a boy. I totally disagree with that. If girls were in fact skunks or beetles, then I would take offence. But they are the best specie of human beings that exist.
This is open to argument and correction though. Someone can, maybe, show me why being a girl is shameful. But let me tell you something that isn’t open to argument; I am not gay. I am not ‘queer’. I am just Bolu.