Charles, Jos, North Central, Nigeria

The reality of being gay suggests that you live in the closet, in denial of who you truly are. Gay men are not attracted to women, and have no desire for them, and it’s not a choice we make. It is how we are wired. This is a fact that I hope our people can contemplate. So since you can’t make a pass at a man you admire, you learn to bottle it up, except you are certain the man is your type. I thought I had met my type this long afternoon in a bus from Owerri to Benin City. I admired him, but quickly took my mind and gaze away. But then to my surprise he kept nudging me for a chat.

I felt I saw the familiar signs that he was one of us. We were both at the back of the vehicle, so I caved in. Our discussion was around general knowledge issues. We exchanged numbers and went our different ways. The second day he called, and gradually, by that time I was back to my base in Jos, his call became more persistent. Eventually he wanted me to come spend time with him. I wasn’t going to believe my luck! But I have one challenge – transport money. So I told him. He sent money to me to come. Pronto, I packed my small back and with joy embarked on a dream trip, or so I thought.

On getting to his base, he met me at a predetermined junction, took me to a restaurant for snacks and flagged down a cab to take us to his house. I became suspicious at first because it seems the journey would never end. All of a sudden and as I was thinking in my mind what was going on, he barked to the driver to park. I was jolted back to reality.

That same moment I felt  a big slap land on my face, and the same time he ordered that I get down. All along the cab and the supposed passengers he picked on the road were all in the plan together. They stripped me to my pant and I got the beating of my life.

He ransacked my wallet, forced me to give them my ATM card and pin, took my jewelries, my watch and all I had on me. Someone stood by my naked body as I wriggled on the ground, while the rest made for the bank to withdraw my cash from an ATM. They got back, asked me to dress up, and flagged a motor bike. Before we got to a police check-point, they threatened to stab me if I gave them away. Already battered, I had to keep mum.

On getting to his house, I met about six guys waiting for him, and another round of beating started. They stripped me down again. I was crying out loud during the beating and luckily it attracted his neigbour who came banging on his door. As they opened the door and started arguing with this neighbor, I wriggled myself near the door and bolted with just my boxers on.  They did not bother to chase after me. I flagged the next motor-bike and he happened to be a vigilante who instantly suspected I had been the guy’s victim. It wasn’t his first time of pretending to be gay and luring love starved gay men over to be disposed and blackmailed.

The man gave me a T-shirt to wear. When we got to the main town I begged that he let me down at the park, because he was going to get his other mates to go confront the guys. I had to beg  the driver to take me with a promise to pay him when we get to our destination. I was nursed for over a week before I could come out to the open and carry on with life. And I see how lucky I was to remain alive because anything could have happened.