When you are seven-years-old you have no clue what sexual orientation is about. You grow up being called gay and you somewhat know it means you are not like other boys—at least the ones you met. You grow up knowing there is something different about you: you happen not to walk like other seven-year-old boys- your hips sway horizontally. Having a bouncy walk is your utmost desire. You’d trade the exclusion and mockery for the PERFECT walk.
In the first grade, your closest friends are girls. When you sit down during lunch, all your right legs cross the left ones and don’t touch the ground and your male classmate happens to seat with both their legs uncrossed. At that point, there’s something “wrong” with you and no one is even bothered to tell you about it. But you still don’t feel weird at all about crossing your legs. In your innocent seven-year-old self’s understanding, that’s how it should be. In your teens, you define that as metrosexuality and freedom of expression.
You are used to kids your age accompanying each other to the bathroom during the break at school—but you have never been that kid. Amidst all of that, you don’t feel lonely. When you are seven years old, you don’t know the word and you cannot pronounce the word stabane. You grow up thinking the world has something against you and you don’t know what it is.
On your way back home from school, the journey is quiet, lonely and daunting. Children around the neighbourhood call you names- gay, fag, sister X. You grow up being the sissy that everyone grows up hoping they will get invited to your Coming Out party. Nothing makes sense at that point.
Like an average boy your age, you foolishly and regrettably kiss the most beautiful girl by the time you are nine years old. At that age, you have made enough male friends to claim your masculinity and ”street cred.” By the time you are twelve, you walk around the township scouting for girls hoping to make the one who speaks to you first your girlfriend—it is only normal for a twelve-year-old boy. Despite the number of girls you end up talking to, your hips still sway. At times, they sway more viciously than those of some girls. You convince yourself that hip swaying is just a phase- it will pass, it still hits you in the formative years of your teenage-hood.
By the time you’re thirteen-years-old you hate the world for it is and what is has. One Sunday you walk up to the alter and accept Jesus as your personal Lord and savior. At that point, it helps you to put up a façade and it is the only thing that seems to be working in your life. Everyone begins to recognize you as a devoted Christian. Your family even goes to the extent of excusing you from chores so that you may attend church services. Your grades at school begin to reach the sky. The only coping mechanism with the chaos that is your life is by ensuring you’re always the top of your class. It helps you to escape. But still, you haven’t figured out what the hell is going on with you.
On your first day in high school, you begin to know something about yourself: you are a lover. In all honesty, that who you’ve been all your life. You have tried to twist your square self into a circle so that you don’t feel like a square cube in a round hole, just like you always have. You might fall in love—but what do you know about love when all you’ve known is hate towards the world and yourself? What do you honestly know about love when you are just fourteen-years-old?
Love does happen when you are fourteen. She sits next to you on your first day at school. You suddenly feel like the heavens have been kicked wide open and the cold air was released so that you might feel chills down your spine and shiver on a hot summer day. Her words are soft and coated with warm, her dark chocolate skin is smooth and pure as if she had been bathed in dark chocolate and honey at birth. Your awkward fourteen-year-old, introverted, people-hating-because-of-prior-exclusion cannot even make her aware you appreciate her presence. She asks you for a pen and you suddenly think she might like you but you quickly get your mind out of the gutter. The pen exchange turns into cell phone exchange and you begin to talk hours on end each day. You cannot imagine sleeping without receiving or sending an “I LOVE YOU” text. The texts meant life to you, probably more than oxygen. You valued her like she was the last molecule of oxygen. Without knowing, she becomes your girlfriend.
During chain prayers at church, you latch on each other’s hands as if you might lose each other once the pastor dismisses the service. She means the world to you and you earnestly pray she feels the same way about you. She alters your prayers: you longer pray the way you used to before. Your sister’s healing becomes secondary and her presence in your life becomes primary—that how your prayers translate. Maybe that’s what people mean when to say they are in love. She becomes your reason to believe that God does answer prayers of wanting to become one of the boys. A fourteen-year-old can do nothing but hope.