As I was saying… I really did not know much of homosexuals and homosexuality in Nigeria except those ........’it happens in the north ……….girls do it in the dormitories and call it SUPE or SHUPE…’ and other naive stuff like that .
In the early ‘80s as young African students in Rome we noticed that in the public urinary at the Stazione Termini some men used to ‘crane or giraffe ‘ their neck as to see your p.. while urinating. Oh Dio !! we did not understand anything; The first day we wondered all through the 30 minutes ride on metropolitan to Ostia Lido what and why a man should be interested in seeing the p….. of another male. The last day we used that urinary was the day one of us was touched on the buttocks by a vulgar homosexual fellow. This poor newly arrived African boy thought in his anger that the best revenge was to urinate on the man, but he was disappointed when the man instead enjoyed the mess…... ..We ran out in disgust and fear. That was the last such public urinary saw us for a very long time. In the second year we took some lessons in psychology and sociology where we had refs on homosexuality etc.
While doing my NYSC in the North and a period I worked as a guidance counsellor in girls schools in the south , I observed some ambiguous relationship between teenage girls very few cases were unequivocal though. I was particularly careful because I knew many parents would not understand if they learnt you handled a report of ‘SUPE’ relationship of their daughter. You might even be blamed for that even if they understood. It wasn’t easy for me as a young graduate and the first guidance councillor in that female school. However, we regarded such as ‘behaviour that will pass with the time’. We believed some did pass with time - did they?
Back in Europe at the beginning of the 90’s I lost my job and had to hang on a job with a Stylist and high fashion designer… (a world name). I was shuttling cities- Rome, Milan, Paris etc on fashion exhibitions with our models and other staff. I was at the back stage and kept records of the dresses and accessories so it was imperative I had to be in the dressing rooms always; a great embarrassment to me in the first days. Imagine a ‘poor Christ’ landing from Enugu directly into a hall full of nude, half nude and uninhibited girls I only see in magazines and televisions. It was a mental torture I must say, even physical also..… hahahahah. Wetin man pikin no go bear for money? I felt dehumanized or ‘demanized’, no matter most of them were like sticks and lacked most of the elements in my fantasies. About 80% of them were underfed, underweight, unmannered, uneducated ; The only thing most of them had more or over were doses of things that did not do them any good rather the cause of their depreciation. I am not a cannibal but do not like bones. I respect peoples tastes but still wonder what a man would do with a mass of bones?
However I was encouraged and brushed up to face the job and the girls by a nice designer from the Rome arts academy weighing more than two of our models put together and had size 4+ of the brassier: we became friends immediately because we were among the few that ate what human beings ate. We became a pair in everything ,yes everything. She saved me from confusion.
During the coffee break the first day , I went with two gentlemen in our team and they also booked seats for the lunch. They were in charge of the cosmetics, hair and general body beauty of these models . They were very easy, funny and well-mannered but were always critical of any girl I proposed I would check out after work that evening :Rome is nice in the evening. I initially thought they were as people already in the sector protecting me; then I later became suspicious of their changing topics whenever I went to conclude how to end my evening.
My real problem was not with the models and their behaviour but with the make up fellows. Almost all the high profile make-up specialists, hairdressers in the high fashion biz are males. Those in our team then were all rich professionals and the girls liked and wanted them, I was not rich but liked and wanted most of the girls that liked the make-up men ,my designer girl informed me that all the make-up men liked and may want me. (I hope one can still understand this mathematics of ‘liking and wanting’). Dio mio!! I rushed into the toilet to throw up but didn’t because I bumped on two models (females) in ‘funny behaviour’ there, I remembered the Holy bible-Sodom and Gomorrah.
After the rehearsals I made sure I passed the evening with the designer to make sure ‘everything still functioned ‘ correctly with me. She was happy I was afraid and inwardly wanted me to be frightened every evening for her to reassure me always……. Or reciprocal reassurance I would say.
I left the job later for another job after a lot of 'reassurances that things still functioned' the way I wanted them .
The next job was still more challenging.
Charles Okey C.