“Bienvenue monsieur Uche! Presentez-vous et saluez le professeur qui vient de Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.” The above words filled the room immediately I sat down to face this panel that included who is who in the department of French and Foreign Languages of my school, University of Jos; it was the day set aside for…
“Bienvenue monsieur Uche! Presentez-vous et saluez le professeur qui vient de Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.”
The above words filled the room immediately I sat down to face this panel that included who is who in the department of French and Foreign Languages of my school, University of Jos; it was the day set aside for defense of projects. When my HOD said it, I looked around to catch a glimpse of the people I would be confronting. I nodded my head in acceptance and took a deep breath. What he simply said in French was:
“Welcome Mr. Uche, introduce yourself and greet the professor from ABU, Zaria”
I did as instructed and to the business of the day, we headed. Just when I thought that I had done justice to the topic I chose to write by defending it very well, one of the senior lecturers asked me a question that took me off balance for a while. She asked:
“Are you a homosexual?”
I wondered why she asked me that question. I turned around and looked right in the faces of everybody seated in the room. What went through my mind in the space of 6 seconds was; “did I defend the homosexuals so well today or did I project myself as gay?”
I answered confidently after yet another deep breath with a smile that I wasn’t a homosexual but a heterosexual who had never conceived anything otherwise in his thoughts. The visiting professor from ABU looked at me with a smile and nodded, I think it was in acceptance of my response. I felt I touched every part that needed to be touched as I presented my case. Little wonder my level coordinator at that time followed me outside after the defense to congratulate me on how I enlightened them especially him on an issue he didn’t give so much attention to.
Normally, while defending your project in the department of French, students are asked to explain the reason why they chose their topics. I wasn’t exempted from this; L’HOMOSEXUALITE DANS L’ENFANT EBLOUI DE RACHID O (Homosexuality in ENFANT EBLOUI by Rachid O) was what I wrote on. My explanation went thus:
In the space of five years after leaving secondary school, I had been accosted by 3 homosexuals on different occasions. The first one met me in a party organized by a female friend of mine and decided to ask for my details. I couldn’t decipher his motives at that time not until when he invited me to his house and started telling me what I termed “nonsense”. He stopped bothering me when he realized I wasn’t responding to his vibes. He gave up on me and left. I never saw him again. I told my friends about his approach and we laughed it off and moved on.
We ran the streets where I come from. We were legit in all we did at least when it came to making ends meet. As a student who had his eyes and mind set on gaining admission into the famous University of Jos, I made sure I reduced the pressure on my parents at least financially. It was on one of these ‘hustling’ rounds that I met this man who started telling me about how he was going to transform my life if I made him my lover. I said to myself; “not again.” I didn’t know why I was calm with him. He invited me to a spot where we would “chill”. As a teenager, I was scared to my bone marrow. The slightest thought of being in a place with this man was nauseating to me. It made goose bumps take over my being. I resorted to telling a few of my friends about this man, and our plan was to confront and possibly beat him up. Yes, we wanted to beat him up for trying to initiate this move. We did meet; my friends were lurking around the corner waiting for me to give them the sign to do the needful. Our plans never came to pass because I told him to tend to his wife and kids and back off me or risked being mobbed. We never met again and my ‘homies’ never had the chance to rough handle him.
Before meeting the above mentioned gentlemen, I had already suspected a grown up man in my area that would always cry and beg for the attention of a particular boy who refused coming to see him again. I enquired because I was confused about the whole scenario. I later found out that these two were engaged in amorous acts. It didn’t go down well with me, but I felt it wasn’t my business and indeed, till this day, none of this is my business.
I couldn’t tell if the panel taking down my scores was satisfied with my explanation or not, I just knew that I had to tell them what prompted my choice of this topic.
As students of French from my university, students ripe for projects are mandated to get their topics from books written by French speaking authors. I came across a French novel written by Rachid O, a Moroccan who in an autobiography talked about his sexual orientation as a homosexual. This book made me think about the reasons why people are homosexuals; the hatred that exists between heterosexuals and homosexuals; the challenges they face considering the humiliation that welcomed him especially when he was being laughed at by his peers in school and when his brother beat the hell out of him. I went ahead to ask myself if there is any solution to this ‘problem’. In the little research I did, using the above named author as a case study, Rachid O was born in a family where the grandfather is a homosexual who almost slept with him in one of their encounters. Even though some people have argued that homosexuality is not hereditary, I know Rachid O was trying to relay to us that it is. In the cause of defending the project, I highlighted that being gay is largely dependent on environmental and social factors (my opinion, lest you forget that).
Even though the major character in Andre Gide’s L’immoraliste (the last book we read in school in pursuit of our degree) was accused of being gay despite the fact that he wasn’t seen performing the act, the author was the first gay man to receive the Nobel Prize for literature in 1947. Gide was one of the most revered French writers who had a penchant for stirring up controversies in three facets of human interests – religion, sexuality and politics. He faced a lot of condemnation at that time. In the above mentioned book, one of the reasons why the major character was accused of being gay was because he never felt a thing for his newly wedded wife. The argument has always been; why didn’t he have any feeling for his wife? Was the author reliving his life in the novel?
Gore Vidal died in 2012 at the age of 86 while I was putting finishing touches to my project. He was an American novelist who was accused of promoting homosexuality in his works. His popular works include; The City and the Pillar (1948) and Julian (1964). Tim Teeman in an online publication, Daily Beast, wrote that Vidal claimed he had had sex with about a thousand men before he turned 25. I did a little research on him and got his side of view on homosexuality; in one of his favorite quotes on the subject, he said:
“Actually, there is no such thing as a homosexual person, any more than there is such a thing as a heterosexual person. The words are adjectives describing sexual acts, not people. The sexual acts are entirely normal; if they were not, no one would perform them.”
Taking Vidal’s works, lifestyle and quote into consideration, the question I ask myself most of the time is; what triggers this feeling? If this feeling is considered bad as most of us heterosexuals claim, is there a remedy to this?
Africans and particularly Nigerians in their numbers on daily basis condemn homosexuality. They frown at it saying it’s against our culture, tradition and religion. Sometime last year, some suspected homosexuals were flogged publicly as punishment in Bauchi, Nigeria. For how long would this scourge be on and is there really a cure for this problem if really it’s a problem?
My stand on this is…
Most homosexuals have argued that they don’t see anything bad in what they do. Some have even declared that, if it was a bad thing, they wouldn’t have been born this way (for the ones who claim they were born this way). Rather than throw stones at them at the slightest opportunity we get, I advise we rather find a way of talking them out of this act (that’s if we think they are not acting right). Most of the religions found in Nigeria abhor homosexuality and as a Christian, I totally condemn it. Little wonder Paul while addressing the Corinthians said;
“Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:9-11).
I don’t think hate would solve any problem, let the Christians go down on their knees and commit the lost ones back to the Lord.