[Guest Blog] Gay Yearning: A Transatlantic Journey by Anaene Achinu

Today’s incredible guest post is by Anaene (she/her), a new contributor to Coffee & Kink. I’m so honoured to be sharing her brilliant and important story with you all.

Amy x

Gay Yearning: A Transatlantic Journey by Anaene Achinu

Queerness is expensive in Nigeria. 

If you can afford it, you wear it quietly. Your sexuality winds up as gossip fodder, playful but on the verge of vicious. A rumor that floats around in the air. And it will remain so, as long as you are not too loud about it. The more money you have, the louder you can be. Simple economics. Unfortunately, most people cannot afford this luxury good of self expression. They have their own class of options, but here are the three main ones; repression, activism, or visa. Perform heterosexuality, fight for your basic human rights to the point of near death, or fly away, far away, far, far, away. 

Your choice. 

My coming out is a complex yet simple affair. Western media has not addressed my own process, except maybe Hulu Original’s Shrill, where Fran, a queer Nigerian American, is out to her parents, but not fully accepted. Although pleasing to the sight, it is not my or many others reality. This is not their responsibility, because this is a nice start, but what can we say? I have friends who are out on the Internet, out to their friends, but not to their nuclear family. We certainly are not there yet. Some of us are too busy trying to survive the many isms that plague us; sexism, racism, tribalism. Oh, don’t forget poverty [ism]. Haha. 

But enough of the “woe is me.” Let me tell you the story of a woman who discovered the softness of women in three different continents. 

Our journey starts in Nigeria, in the heat of repression. High school was a breeding ground for the exploration of raging hormones and budding sexual identities, but my nose was mostly too buried in the Word of God to notice that perhaps my affinity towards certain girls at school was more than fondness, but crushes. Infatuation. It was easy to not dig deep, because I am unfortunately also attracted to men; the ensuing heartbreak took up most of my time. I had a tendency to magnify any slight attraction someone of the opposite sex would feel towards me. It was a combination of the usual glorified validation a teenager lends to “Mars”, and “fitting in”; wishfully believing that you are more conventional than your unidentifiable but present yearnings for something more yet familiar. 

This pattern followed me to England, where I slowly allowed myself to dream outside of hetero conventions, thanks to my very straight best friend, who accepted me for who I was before I even had a clue. She was the one that made me realize that perhaps I was not interested in marriage or child-breeding, but I was interested in a companionship similar to ours; soft, simple and beautiful. It took some time for me to realize I could have this outside the walls of friendship; slowly, my world expanded, and the yearning became more defined. A poignant example of this happened during a house party, where, from afar, I fell in love with a masculine woman. I followed her with my eyes all night, weirdly excited, until I discovered with pure disappointment that this was a mere cis man. 

What a shame. What a shame.

(Un)fortunately, I was unable to physically explore this side of me, but I made up for it in Nigeria. Not in numbers, but in quality. Though I never fell in love with these women, I fell in love with femininity. I was finally becoming, whatever that means. The softness, the generosity, the similarities and differences. The security, even in the dizzying madness of discovery. 

I entered the Nigerian workforce with few to no illusions. My colleagues could “manage” my UK-contracted atheism, but not my sexuality. I was not ready for the possible fetishization, ostracism, or even the gradual reduction of financial opportunity. It was not worth it. I carefully picked those I could disclose myself to, because it is very hard to keep your truth to yourself, especially in the honeymoon stage of it, when you are post-Eureka but it is not well worn yet. 

Thankfully, I found solace in the nightlife scene, where body grinding was non-discriminate. However, I did not have what it took to fully step up to a woman, to ask her to dance, to initiate anything. I once fell in love with a girl with golden braids. I danced with men throughout the night, but I could not get her out of my mind. I told her she was beautiful. She thanked me, hugged me. We exchanged social media. Then, I found out she had a boyfriend. 

Shrugs. 

Now here I am, in America, still coming out. I come out on dating apps, where I meet interesting women. I am still wary of work colleagues knowing my sexuality, but those I tell do not bat an eyelid. I am not deceived by the illusion though; the homophobia is still palpable. I was once subjected to listening to a horrible homophobic conversation between two people who clearly had nothing better to say on a train. It was so triggering. No one was a direct target in that exchange, thank goodness, but it was a stark reminder that rainbow colors on advertisements, magazine spreads, etc. do not mean full acceptance; it is still paraphernalia. Maybe one can feel more comfortable when it is normal, not “celebrated”. I mean, it should be celebrated. But maybe in a “this is normal” way, not a “we are still fighting for the right to breathe in front of our parents” way. 

That’s a conversation for another time. 

I have had moments where I wanted to come out fully, like Lena Waithe did on Master of None. But my mother is not Angela Bassett. My grandmother’s hearing, unlike hers, is very sharp and Catholic. And although this partial freedom can be uncomfortable, although I yearn for more, I am content with what I have.

Anaene Achinu is a New York based writer.

Pride Month Guest Post: Wrapped in Rainbows by The Barefoot Sub

I’m delighted to be ending my Pride Month guest post series with this personal story from C&K newcomer, The Barefoot Sub. As a fellow queer woman who struggled to know how to define her sexuality, this one resonated with me deeply.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series, which also featured pieces from Violet Grey and Quenby, and that you’ve all had a safe and happy Pride Month.

Amy x

TW: this piece contains discussion of coerced sex and homophobic emotional abuse. Look after yourselves, loves.

Wrapped in Rainbows

It is my understanding that many people know where they lie on the sexuality spectrum from a young age, even if they didn’t always understand exactly what it meant. For some of us, though, it isn’t such a simple path to follow, and I would like to share the journey of how I came to be 37 years old and celebrating my first Pride wrapped up in rainbows.

As a child I was always encouraged to be myself. 

Being a tomboy meant I had the freedom to follow my brother. I was never a “girly girl” and gender never seemed to have much to do with anything. As I grew-up, I didn’t experiment with sexuality ike my peers. Make up and push up bras, short skirts and heels – these were all things I didn’t really understand.

This was part nature, but also nurture, as my mum was far from sex-positive and actively chose to protect me from the grown up world of lust and deviance. To this day she holds very conservative views on sex and relationships. As an adult I am now able to have gentle discussions with her on relationship styles, but in those formative years you can imagine how little I was able to learn. 

I had been bullied by girls at primary school, for being different.

Though I made friends through secondary school, I walked a fine line within those groups because I still didn’t fit the mould. I was the short-haired, flat-chested rugby player who spent too much time hanging around in mud with her older brother and his friends and I… didn’t even shave my legs! Yes, I was the “butch” one in my year. I didn’t even join in games like “pass the ice pole” with my girlfriends for fear of being classified as the “dyke,” which I was fairly certain I wasn’t. 

But what if they were right?

When I first discovered sex, I was only interested in men. When I stumbled across my brother’s secret porn stash I turned a blind eye to the images of beautiful women, choosing instead to read the stories or fuck myself along with the couples. I denied any curiosity as dirty and wrong.

Though I spent a lot of nights out in the gay bars while at University, I only went for the haven they provided, brushing off any attention I received from women. Considering the plentiful experiences I had in my late teens, it is curious that same sex hookups were the one thing that I turned my nose up at. If someone saw me with a woman… what would they think? 

It was all too alarming!

The disgrace of my (mostly) liberated sexuality caught up with me after a number of years and I met a man who said he loved me. We married 8 months after meeting, but the insidious slut-shaming began within weeks of us getting together. A mixture of love-bombing and loathing created a dependency on him which I only began to understand two years after we separated. He had quite the knack for eating away at my self-worth, and as such my libido was almost entirely eroded. He was very good at nagging me until I gave in and let him have sex with me, but on the occasions that I refused and wouldn’t be made to feel guilty the name calling would start. It was always around my worst insecurity. “You don’t want to have sex with me because you’re a lesbian” he would say, without fail. And the comments would continue for days afterwards until I relented because, well, I thought I should probably just shut him up. It stopped the taunting. 

Until the next time he wanted sex, and then it would start all over again.

After eleven years I was at my wits end and, while I was searching online for a better life, I met someone who would enable me to become my best me. Not that I knew this at the time, of course. I was able to open up to him and, in amongst the fantasies and daydreams, I was able to find the words. I shared what had been in my mind since watching my school friends pass those ice poles: “I’m curious about whether I’m bi-curious.”

He knew how hard that was for me to tell him and the background to my fears. As is his way, he helped me to understand that there would be nothing wrong with me if I did discover I preferred women, and it did not matter what anyone else thought either. It was also ok if I experimented and didn’t enjoy myself. 

What was important was for me to be myself. 

After a while, he started to test my curiosity by setting me little tasks. They seem little now, but at the time they felt huge and they were a big stretch. Flirting, a kiss, a touch… I had his support in the background, but he gave me the space to learn if the path was right for me.

When work took him away I continued to delve deeper into this new side of me. No tasks this time, just finding my feet and following my heart. There were some less-than-wonderful trials and some incredible liaisons. For the first couple of years I didn’t have much confidence in meeting new people, regardless of their gender. I had no idea how to engage with women as I had shut myself off for so long, in fear of the name calling that would follow a developing friendship.

As I started to make friends through the local fetish and swinging scenes, I found a circle of people who liked me because of me. With my D/s relationship and the acceptance of these communities, my confidence grew and I was able to ask for what I wanted, share my stories, and upgrade my experiences with some truly amazing people from all over the gender spectrum.

Before I stopped being afraid of what my sexuality meant to other people, I had no idea that there could be so much pleasure, fun, and laughter outside of heterosexual relations. A person’s beauty and desirability isn’t necessarily linked to their gender identity or genitalia.

With the support and guidance of Sir, the generosity of spirit that my wonderful friends have showered me with, and a little bravery to conquer my fears, I have learnt that I was right all along. I am not lesbian. But I’m not straight either. 

This year marks the fifth pride month since my explorations began, and I am proud to say I am confidently queer and celebrating!

The Barefoot Sub can be found over at A Leap of Faith reminiscing about her self-discovery through kink while also sharing smut that is yet to happen. You can find her over at Twitter, usually getting distracted by the filthy GIFs, and occasionally on Instagram, where she is almost always covered in rope.