What matter most to you, and why? by Yinka Ade( Not Real Name)

What matter most to you, and why? by Yinka Ade( Not Real Name)

Acceptance matters to me. I want acceptance from family, friends, colleagues and society. Somehow, seeking validation from people has driven me this far and is still driving me. I knew I was “unconventional” when, at 8 years of age, I saw a man and woman kiss on TV and felt tingles in my pants—and it wasn’t for the woman.

As a child, knowing and being sure of who I was, was very daunting, but it came with a determination to always stand out. I wanted to make my family and friends proud of me.

In grade 5 of junior school, murmurs and whispers often followed me: “See the way he’s walking?” “Why is he acting like a girl?” I became self-conscious, and tried hard to ‘fit-in’, to conform. So I constantly checked and scrutinized myself. But I couldn’t continue the physical conformity, instead, I diverted attention to my mental abilities—and so worked my way to become the best graduating student in Grade 5.

High school was quite challenging to me. At home, our family had become polygamous and I found myself battling for the love of my father through his constant blatant comparisons between my five siblings and me. At school, my new friends were brilliant, observant and generally “not-stupid”. They could see whatever I was trying to hide, so I decided to “lock it down” by convincing them—and myself—that I had a crush on a girl.

In university, I was sure of who I was and became more confident. But, I couldn’t fully be myself as engaging in “homosexual acts” was an expellable offence. Once again, I intentionally had to protect myself and, at least, finish the race that was school.

As the days went by, I found myself involved in lots activities inadvertently. I became the vice-president of my department in year 2. I was also an usher for chapel services and a member of Bible study groups. I don’t know why I did all those activities, considering that I didn’t need to call attention to myself, but I did anyway. I got more friends and more admirers. People liked me, my lecturers loved me, and I was generally happy!

In retrospect, my self-repression was because I never wanted people to stereotype me or castigate me. I wanted people’s validation, which isn’t necessarily a good thing or bad thing. This has been my sole motivation. Hopefully, when people find out that I am sexually “different”, they will realize it is just one more thing about me and not the sum total of my existence.

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