I didn’t start dreaming till I was thirteen. I didn’t know I could or should dream. I didn’t know what people like me could do, I didn’t know people like me could be so much more, I didn’t know there was a world filled with endless possibilities in front of me. Till I was thirteen I wanted to be (actually my mum wanted me to be) a lawyer, go to the University of Ibadan, get done, marry, have children and die.
Tell me about it.
You know that phase where kids say they want to be astronauts, chefs, doctors *insert career option that in real life pays shit and involves way too many years to study for* because they saw someone on TV/church/school doing said job and they wanted to be like that person? Well I had that phase when I was thirteen/fourteen because that was when I realized that queer people could be so much more than abominations.
I figured out I wasn’t quite straight early in life. In the same time period, I also figured out what people thought about non-heterosexuals.
What I didn’t figure out early was that there were other queer people in this world, and that Queer people, are more than their sexualities.
Queer people are entrepreneurs, moguls, artists, designers etc.
I remember wanting to be a fashion designer, my interest in that career path wasn’t only because I was passionate about fashion, it was also because I came across a Nigerian gay man who was an amazing fashion designer. I looked at him and saw pieces of myself in him, and that made all the difference to me.
Queer media representation as described by homophobes, isn’t about “shoving the gay community down everyone’s throat’, it’s about queer people, especially queer children seeing themselves in relatable characters on television, identifying with the storylines, and connecting with those emotions.
It’s about having heroes to look up to.
Cis-het children (especially Caucasian children) are blessed to grow up seeing themselves in amazing heroes, and identifying with them. They have the privilege of relating to their struggles and stories, while queer children (especially children of colour), unfortunately are not awarded the same.
We grow up feeling our pain in a homophobic world, and not having any characters that give us something to look forward to. The great Whitney Houston said it best in her classic hit, “The Greatest Love Of All”,
“Everybody is searching for a hero, people need someone to look up to, i never had anyone fulfil my needs, a lonely place to be, so I learned to depend on me’.
Queer children for the most part grow up watching cartoons, TV shows and listening to music about romance and love but it is all about heterosexual love and romance and honestly, that sucks. Bad.
For longer than I care to admit, I didn’t know queer people could be in loving relationships, let alone get married.
It took me till watching Nasir & Agron on Spartacus the Starz original network hit series, to see an actual gay love story play out on TV.
It took me till Kurt & Blaine on Glee, the cable comedy-drama musical, to realize that as a gay man, you can have a happily ever after, you can meet your high school sweetheart, get into the school of your dreams, and win all round.
I was fourteen.
I was fourteen, when I knew a gay man could have a happily ever after.
Queer children need to grow up in a world where they can watch a TV show on Saturday and a trans kid can say 'I want to be pretty like Angel (Pose) when I grow up' or a gay kid can say 'I want to perform on Broadway like Kurt (Glee)'.
Queer kids need to grow up and look at the TV screen and see themselves, see their stories and see their reflections,
Queer kids need to know early on that they can be... and that they are so much more.
They can be stoic badass sassy villains, calm and collected detectives, flirty popular cheerleaders, awkward but cute nerds, Disney royalty, superheroes (No capes!).
They need to know they are more than their sexualities, their gender and their labels, they are people who can do so much more than they know.
I want them to have the opportunity to start need dreaming early, at least earlier than I did.
Words by Vincent Desmond.
Vincent Desmond is a Queer Pop Culture writer, follow his writing journey on his medium page, here