What She Said: Coming Out To My Religious Parents As Bisexual

| Her
September 9, 2020


In anticipation of Bisexuality Awareness Week which takes place every September 16 – 23, I decided to speak to a bisexual woman about her experiences being out in Nigeria. The 29-year-old woman in this story talks about her decision to come out to her very religious parents while still living with them and the aftermath of coming out.

When did you first realise you were bisexual?

Unlike most people, I can’t pinpoint one moment and say this was the defining moment. I guess the same way straight people don’t wake up one day and realise, “oh hey, I’m heterosexual.” I do remember that when I was in secondary school, I had a crush on a girl, but that wasn’t my first crush. The girl had a boyfriend. When I realised she didn’t swing both ways, my crush died a harrowing death. Soon, I realised I had a crush on her boyfriend. Interesting how that worked out and we dated for years. I guess that’s my first memory of being attracted to a member of the opposite sex and same sex within the same time frame.

How did you deal with that, living a deeply religious society?

It was definitely not easy. Add to the fact that my parents are very religious. They go to one of the biggest Pentecostal churches and are pastors there, so they don’t tolerate nonsense. Just talking to boys was a problem, now imagine coming out as being attracted to women… that would have meant more trouble as a teen. I remember once my older brother read my messages where my then boyfriend wrote “goodnight dear” at the end of a text to me. He showed the text to my dad who was so aggravated by the use of the word “dear”, he started asking if I was still a virgin and what not. Right now, I cannot fathom why it was such a big deal. 

My mum was no different. As soon as I was old enough — 16 ish — I made up my mind to not tell my parents about major life decisions: who I was dating, my job, etc. My plan was to simply disappear once I had the money to. I knew it was the only way to go if I wanted to live my best life. 

I’m guessing that didn’t happen.

Nope.   

The older I grew, the better my relationship with my mum got. By the time I was done with university, she was no longer an unbearable, religious woman. We used to gist, hang out and shop together.

For context, where my dad was the loud, obnoxious one, my mum had always been more subtle. With a straight and calm face, she could tell you that there was something wrong with your entire life — something she’s said to me one too many times.

She changed in a very remarkable way and I couldn’t lock her out.

I can see how this relationship dynamic makes it hard to disappear on her.

Fam. At this point, I’d dated just one guy and three different women, none of whom she’d met. It felt like I was sinning or doing something bad. When I was dating a colleague from work, I brought her home and first introduced her as a friend. I was living under their roof. So calling her a friend was only wise — she could sleep over when she wanted, and they wouldn’t suspect a thing. 

My parents took an interest in her. They really liked her. My dad would ask her about her boyfriend, she would smile politely and we would smile at each other knowingly. Lmao. I did like that there was no pressure from her to come out to my parents because the thought of doing that gave me serious anxiety.

That my mum was cool with me didn’t mean she was no longer a pastor in church or that her definition of morality wasn’t still very high and different. We once started to watch a movie with queer characters together and she said “I feel like vomiting. What has this world become?”

When did you finally muster the courage to come out to her? 

Almost a year after my colleague and I broke up. In fact, I was dating a guy when I told my parents about it. I asked my siblings to come home, so they could help hold my parents just in case one of them decided to kill me.

How did it go?

Let’s just say, not very well. My father was raging and fuming and shouting “no child of mine”.  There was a table just by his side, and he flung it against the wall.

And my mum was just staring. I tried to touch her to explain, but she brushed me off. She said, “Are you doing this on purpose? Are you trying to hurt me? Where did I go wrong?” We had to rush her to the hospital later because her blood pressure skyrocketed. I doubt that the two event are unrelated.

Oh wow. 

A few weeks later when things had settled down, my mum and I talked about it. She said she wanted to understand what exactly being bisexual meant for me. I told her. She asked if I wanted to pray about it. I said no. After a while, she just said, I can’t live your life for you, I can’t choose for you and a long ass speech which wasn’t exactly an approval, but it was peace.

What made you decide you were ready to come out? 

I was tired of feeling as though I was living a double life. I really yearned for my parent’s approval —  especially my mum’s in everything I did. I felt like if I spoke to her, she’d understand. It wasn’t one thing that triggered it. I was just tired of sneaking around and lying and pretending. I really just wanted peace and I’ve gotten that to an extent.

That’s reasonable. How prepared were you for this coming out experience?

I was prepared for the worst. I was prepared to be disowned and for like heaven to fall down. My mum’s reaction didn’t surprise me. I mean the high blood pressure bit was scary but every other thing was how I imagined it’d play out. I imagined my dad would be a lot worse though. It almost get there sha.

How?

He outed me to some ministers in his church, and they wanted to perform conversion therapy on me. Luckily, my mum gave me the heads-up and that didn’t happen.

Whenever I mention a friend, he sort of gets alert, perhaps trying to figure out if I’m talking about a woman or not. 

The plot twist is that I’m currently in a relationship that might end up in marriage. 

In a relationship with a man?

Yup. I’m not doing it out of pressure to conform or to please my parents. I’m actually in love. In fact, I’m doing it more for the safety net that marriage as an institution confers on women than to please anyone. He knows I’m queer, and we’re both polyamorous. So we’ll be extending this to our marriage if and when we do get married. 

Nice. What was the hardest part of coming out to your parents? 

Coming out itself. I can’t take for granted the fact that coming out wasn’t as drawn out as I expected it to be. I am lucky in some ways. I know some people who can’t dream of mentioning it to their relatives. But I can’t deny that coming out severed something in my relationship with my mum and dad. Especially with my mum. And I really want it to be back to normal. If ever. I pray it does come back. But importantly, I feel at peace in my heart. It doesn’t feel like I’m sinning. That’s important to me.


If you’d like to share your experience as a Nigerian or African woman across a range of different issues that affect women, send me an email.

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

November 3, 2020

We know you have been eyeing that bone straight wig on your timeline for about a month now. You have sent it to all your men and women and they are all airing you. In fact, even anon is suddenly quiet. All of this shame and disgrace for what? Ordinary bone straight? That is why […]

woman lying down on bed
September 15, 2021

“He said a lot of things. He cried too. This continued till 5 am. Eventually, I gave in because I wanted to sleep. He is currently a gospel musician in Kaduna.”

11 Nigerian Women Talk About Being Coerced

Read here:

black girl sitting crosslegged using a laptop and wearing headphones
July 1, 2021

With inflation on the rise, more people are looking for more ways to double their income. In this article, 5 Nigerian women talk about making money online. If you are looking for how to make money online in Nigeria, this article is for you.  Temmy, 20  I create content for websites, ghostwrite ebooks and manage […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

November 1, 2019

Twitter is buzzing right now, bringing a new conversation to the concept of cool vs not-so-cool, especially in relationships. If you’ve been thinking about how much of a red flag you are, why don’t you let this quiz help you decide once and for all?

November 20, 2019

Last month, we thoughtfully made a quiz telling you guys exactly when you’ll marry, but some of you claimed that your spouse was nowhere to be found. Well, now we’ve created one that’ll tell you exactly who you’ll be dragging down that aisle. Take and start planning that wedding: 11 Quizzes For Nigerians Who Are […]

February 26, 2020

Are you all set for marriage, or are you still figuring it out? Well, if you’re curious to know the answer, then this is the quiz for you. All you have to do is create your own ideal Nollywood wedding film, and we’ll tell you if you’re ready to say “I do”. Go ahead:

More from Her

September 25, 2022

Simi and Taofeeqat became best friends in SS2. Before adulthood came between them, they gave each other cheesy love letters and long hugs. In this #LettertoHER, Simi wants Taofeeqat to know she misses her.

September 20, 2022

If your partner spent so much time in your home that it felt like they lived there, moving on can be tougher. So what happens when you can’t afford to move out to move on from the memories of your partner? 7 Nigerians who’ve been heartbroken shared their experience.

What She Said: I’ll Run For Office in 2027
September 14, 2022

Nafisa Atiku-Adejuwon talks about experiencing politics in secondary school, choosing public service over a legal career and finding purpose in helping young women enter politics through “Girls Just Want to Run”.

September 11, 2022

“In everything I wanted to do, my grandma always told me to go for it, even if I wanted to fly to the moon. She never made any of my dreams seem unachievable.”

In this personal essay, Dammy talks about her grandmother, who was also her best friend. #GrandparentsDay

What She Said: Feminism Led Me to Atheism
August 31, 2022

This week’s #ZikokoWhatSheSaid subject is a 23-year-old Nigerian woman. She tells us about discovering her feminism, pansexuality and atheism through books while living with her close-knit conservative family.

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X