Hail Africa. Hail our great country Nigeria, where culture, religion, and traditions have taken the space of authenticity in an individual lives, where the society has managed to label everyone as heterosexual and to be different (Gay, Lesbian, bisexual, etc.) is perceived as abnormal and wrong.
Ideally, everyone should have the right to be their authentic selves, and express their sexuality in a way that is congruent with their being, to achieve such, talking about your sexual identity and preference should be welcomed and encouraged.
How to proceed and what to expect
Well, in a situation where such conversations poses a lot of threat to you, it is important to ensure and strongly consider your safety, and mental health before opening up to anyone as it could be a tough pill to swallow when your family and loved ones do not approve, or are not ready for such information to be dropped on them. It is advisable to hold off talking about it until you are convinced that they can stomach the news, though even still, you can never predict their reactions.
What you can do?
Holding off the talk of your sexuality is an easy, yet difficult way to address the matter, as you might have to consistently put on a show to cover up and match societal expectations which in the long run could lead to a lot of internal discomfort and pain, battling about who to discuss your sexuality with may affect your health mentally. Therefore, it is good to seek out your own family, which in this case would mean a group of people with whom you share the same struggles with, and who are supportive of you. These are people who help you feel more in touch with yourself and resounding to you that you are not alone, by lending you their ears, giving a few advises, sharing stories of their journey to self-acceptance and self-love with you, and also giving you the love you need to stay on track.
Take the case of *David, a 33 year-old cisgender Asexual Nigerian Male for example.
David said he felt miserable as a teenager and hated himself so much after a family member he had confided in about his sexuality, told him he was damaged, and he believed it. But later on, David said he stumbled upon a Ted talk, which brought him hope and made him realize that he wasn’t alone.
“Watching the TED Talk gave me hope, and put me on a new path of self-love and acceptance. I now have a new family online, that constantly echo to me that I am not damaged and I couldn’t be happier.” He said.
The LGBTQ+ community which stands for ‘’lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and more,” also known as the rainbow circle is a large umbrella that offers this kind of support, and you may want to seek one out, although it could be a lot of work finding one in Nigeria, Africa or places where LGBTQ+ activities are considered a criminal act. They do exist, maybe in secrecy, but yes, they exist.
Finding your tribe in the rainbow circle introduces you to others with diverse experiences, and talking to people who understand enables you to feel supported and help remind you that your feelings are valid, that you are normal, and you deserve to be loved regardless. That alone relieves mental stress and positively impacts your mental health.
*Names in this piece have been changed to protect privacy, and all images used are stock photos meant for illustrative purposes only.