So it’s been awhile since I posted. I was just overwhelmed with life – I moved to London for a busy project and so far it has been quite the experience. While I have been in the city a few times in the past, it’s a completely different experience actually living in it and being a part of it. In my opinion, it succeeds in making everyone feel like they belong regardless of where they are from, even if it’s not exactly the friendliest city. There are some things I love about the city and things I don’t. I love walking around the city and taking in the sights. It has a booming night life but since the trains stop around midnight and buses run infrequently at this time, many people have a ‘Cinderella complex’ and run off to the stations once the clock strikes 11.55. One of the reasons is because cabs are quite expensive and finding affordable parking in central areas of the city isn’t always easy. While the food is good and the variety is out of this world, most dishes are usually lacking in spicy heat and I have to go a long way to find Scotch bonnets which make everything better.
It is also a very GAY city and a dating app typically shows more than 75 men in a 10 mile-radius. Compare with Accra where a 10 mile radius may show 4 guys and looking for 75 of the closest men will send you to Istanbul – no joke. However I’ve been to a few gay clubs and bars and it’s easier to chat up someone sitting next you via an app than just say hello. I miss the “eye contact” games of Accra. I’m not sure if people are that scared of rejection, like the idea of technology-boosted conversation or both. But men of all types abound and a friend from home commented that in a gay bar here you can see all types of men ranging from bears/daddies to skinny guys in heels unlike gay bars at home where such the former will never be seen in such a place. This is part of what it means to be free, to live as you wish without fear of danger of any kind. That is not to say people aren’t closeted here because they are. While I’ve never seen race/ethnicity as an issue when selecting someone to date, it seems to be one here with people often stating which ethnicities they are open to dating and sometimes rudely. I’m not sure what to make of it. Another thing I learned was that a relatively bigger number of people use recreational drugs especially in the club scene compared to home where people drink alcohol and smoke weed/cigarettes and call it a day. I’ve seen people lose it in clubs and someone being taken out on a stretcher by paramedics after a bad reaction.
Although being gay is legal in the UK and London is pro-gay, this doesn’t mean everyone in the city is okay with it. I have still heard many homophobic comments, even on the street – case in point I was taking a night-time stroll when a gay couple walked by hand-in-hand. They passed a bunch of guys sitting on a railing and when they were out of earshot, these guys made a bunch of homophobic comments. I have heard/read that homophobia is common in the smaller towns. There are no countries in which it’s perfectly okay to be gay but in this one, the law has your back.
Has it been all fun and games? No. For one I started seeing a therapist again. I’m not sure when I decided to do this but I remember feeling anxious and sad all the time. I remember going into the psychologist’s office and seeing a box of tissues which I found amusing. Ten minutes later the box was nearly empty – I didn’t realise how stressed I was, how hard it had been for me to be strong for other people (my family has been going through some challenges and I had to take charge over many things) while battling my own problems, to keep up the facade. The constant talk of marriage, well-meaning extended family trying to hook me up to “that nice, young woman who has a PhD” and so on was just too much. Sometimes I wish everyone could know the truth and let me just be and keep their expectations to realistic possibilities – such as meeting my boyfriend (that would be an epic family dinner). Clearly I still struggle with this thing called coming out and I wonder if there will ever be a day that I will know that I’m ready and I can tell my folks or if I just have to take the bull by the horns and do it. Thankfully work provides a temporary reprieve, calling to mind an interesting quote from Joseph Conrad (via Faunia Farley): Action is consolatory. It is the enemy of thought and the friend of flattering illusions.