Nigeria: We’re Queer, We’re Here

The first time I felt compelled to document the queer body in my writing was during my second year at the university. I had this toe-curling experience in the hostel one certain night that left me tugging at my pen and bleeding profusely into the banality of an empty paper from the midnight when the fracas broke out till around five a.m. I wanted to register my protest, to enter, as a witness, what I saw that night. But, when the first light flashed through the window that morning, I discovered the sheet of paper had largely remained blank save for the weight of water which has seeped through and left smudges across its face. Unbeknownst to me, I had not been writing. What bled throughout that night was not ink, was not letters. It was tears—my body unhinged by the wounds inflicted on it, the narrative of silence foisted upon its porous terrain. It was tears. Every alphabet, every language resident in my consciousness, had taken flight and the rest melted into hot clammy tears.

This was what happened. The guy living across my room had been identified as gay and marked by this gang of boisterous boys. They had been searching for the best time to pick him without stirring so much dust. So that night—because it was the first week of a new semester and students were yet to resume fully—they came for him, kicked open the wooden door shielding him and dragged him into the open.  They hit him repeatedly with whatever objects they felt could unhinge his body and call forth confessions. Boots, balled fists, sticks, slaps. They asked him who and who were gay. They asked him to name names.  There was no way it could be only him. They wanted to purge the hostels of fucking faggots and liberate the entire school from the infestation of the horrible ass-swinging taboos.

But this guy was not cooperative. He didn’t budge. 

I’m sure he didn’t know why it had to be him. He had tried most of his days here, like other queer people, to remain silent and invisible. For the one year I had known him, his was a life wrapped carefully in layers of fear. Each step a study in apology, every gesture a prayer cautiously woven.

But that night, all those careful folds he had laboured to construct gave way as knife cuts slashed into his body.  Every cut was followed by an ear-piercing scream which in turn kept me clutching the pen with a certain urgency I had never know before. No one came to his rescue that night, or afterwards. Not the school security who hounded around, not the few students who poured out of their rooms, excitement kicking like wild horses in their stomachs, not me holed up in my room gripped with fear, unable to write and very, very uncertain of my own fate.

Now, I think of that incident and that night and I am confronted with the truth.  Read more via Brittle Paper