It all started on Grindr. I had just arrived in Lagos for the Christmas holidays, and I was itching for some loving if you get my drift. I was a visiting body, and there’s nothing more popular on local Grindr than a tourist. As soon as I logged in, I was immediately bombarded with “NSA” and “DTF” messages. Because let’s face it, how many gay African men have more to offer than immediate gratification.
So here I was, scrolling through the plethora of choices, and then I see him. Ola. Baby faced, 6’2, and built like a Yoruba Johnny Bravo. What immediately struck me was his cockiness. I sent him a “hi”, and he replied to me with, “When do you want to come over?” It was love at first ping.
This was before Grindr became a den for setups and fake profiles, so I was more than willing to pack an overnight bag and head over. I told my aunt I was going to a party, and I’d be back the next morning, then I went on my horny little way.
Traffic in Lagos is hell. I had about four hours to contemplate what I was in the middle of doing. And for those hours, all I could think about was the different positions I’d be put in that night.
I got to his place around 11pm. He met me at the bus stop, and God, he was everything I imagined. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment. At that point, it didn’t matter if I was a gay African in a country where gay men are burnt to death. At this point, it didn’t matter that we would never be more than another random hookup on some random night. It was more poetic than my haphazard rambling words can ever do justice to.
We entered the room, and to my surprise, there was someone else on the bed. But I wasn’t alarmed. I turned and asked Ola who it was, and he told me it was a friend who would be joining us. Another gay African. Goody, goody, a threesome, dears. He was cute, but he wasn’t Ola.
Nonetheless, it was a beautiful evening. This isn’t erotica, so I won’t dwell on how our bodies seemed to melt into one. But I will say it was my first threesome, and none has beat it since.
After the sex, Ola’s friend slept off while he and I just stayed up talking. The whole night he held me. I can’t recall the point when I actually took the photographs. Or why I even did. I guess I just wanted a reminder of that night. To reassure me, it wasn’t just a dream.
I didn’t sleep for the whole evening. I stayed up with Ola throughout, smoking weed and listening to afro-pop. When morning came, I got dressed and headed back home.
Ola and I continued talking. He asked me out on a proper date, to which, of course, I said yes. I was in complete admiration. We planned for next weekend.
In the meantime, life went back to normal. The aunt I was staying with was my mother’s cousin. She was visiting from Florida, where she lived with my mother and sisters. We had a weird relationship. I loved her, yes, but if you know African aunties, then you know the love was a mixture of frustration, exasperation and a bit of irritation.
She was always in my business. I was 20, in my second year of university, and still, they were trying to control my life. Looking back at it now, I understood where they were coming from. I mean, I was a very stubborn child. I grew up in New York, and I was the kid who always made trouble in class. I’ve never had respect for any sort of system that made me feel ordinary. So, I naturally rebelled. My mother didn’t understand. God bless her heart. She decided to ship me off to The Motherland when I was fourteen.
I started boarding school, and my sexuality blossomed. I mean, I’ve always known I was a gay African. My attraction to men began with me being way too interested in the abdomen of an uncle who always got dressed in my room. But before I left the states, I hadn’t yet begun to explore sex outside of porn and my jar of Vaseline.
Boarding school put me in an environment of boys, boys and more boys. It was an experience, to say the least. Plenty of gay Africans, but that’s a story for another day. Basically, my family had no clue as to what and who I was—a gay African. I never had any relationship with any family members, where I felt comfortable divulging my truth. I kept it to myself and to a couple of very close friends. I mean, I was a gay African Muslim boy living in Nigeria. There wasn’t much else I could do.
Sometimes, I wonder how different my life would be had I stated in the United States. Maybe I wouldn’t be HIV positive today. But that again is a story for another day.
Anyway, my aunt, nosy as she was, wanted to know how the “party” went. I gave her a few vague, half-hearted replies and felt that was the end of the whole Q&A.
I was using a Blackberry Bold 5 at the time. I had my password and felt comfortable keeping my phone anywhere I saw fit. I couldn’t have imagined that she had been spying on me whenever I typed it in.
Later that night, she and her husband called me into the living room. My aunt was sitting down, looking all guilty and shit, but never in a million years would I have guessed what her husband would ask me.
“Mustapha, are you a gay?”