What happens when 2 gay and 3 straight men walk into a bar? » YNaija

If you are going by all the horrible stories of violence against queer bodies across the world – from the dark alleys of Tel Aviv in the apartheid state of Israel to Ho in Ghana – you will be within your right to believe that the world of cis-heterosexuals and that of queer people is like oil and water – unable to mix however much you wish to force them into one space. The truth, however, is that life is never black and white, it is a whole spectrum of experiences with an abundance of pockets of darkness, light, and everything in between.

A quick survey – if asking a handful of acquaintances counts as such – of Nigerians in about any region, but particularly from Southern Nigeria, asking the question, “Do you think queer people in Northern Nigeria can exist freely, mixing openly with their cis-heterosexual counterparts?” is apt to bring an all-round ‘No,’ answers. It did when I tried it.

Yet, that ‘No,’ response dissolves to nothing at the foot of a table of 3 in an open-air bar in Kano, where 3 queer friends meet to hang out, conscious of the curious stares of disapproving and admiring cis-heterosexual strangers in neighbouring tables – but unbothered because we exist to occupy space.

That ‘No,’ response falls apart in Abuja, this time at the foot of a table of five, in yet another open-air bar that is lush with greenery and brimming with the energy of Nigerian men. This time, 2 straight guys sit in the company of 3 gay guys, drinking beer and flirting graciously with one another. Admiring a thick arm here, a cute guy that just walked in, and a beautiful woman on the lap of a guy two tables away.

It falls father apart on the way back to the hotel of one of the gay men, who was being driven back – with the man he has decided to spend the night with – by one of the straight guys while the other sat in the front seat. French kissing his lover while the boys – aware and respectful – gist about their babes and the serenity of Abuja.

The human experience – removed from the needless bureaucracy of seeking to control human behavior with legislation that only has meaning because we allow it to – is woven by all of us, and we can choose to use the yarn of kindness or that of unkindness, but only one is durable – that of kindness.

As Ghana tows the path of regression to return back into the now-obsolete – even for the British – arms of Victorian moral values that dreaded the free expression of human sexuality with its new anti-gay bill, it is timely to remind ourselves that laws are only as useful as they are just. And because we give them meaning, and even when we forget ourselves our nature is innately one that seeks community – and to build community justice is a key ingredient one can’t do without – unjust laws will eventually die as unnatural a death as their existence in our human societies is unnatural, to begin with.

Love will always win.

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