We do not exist until they are bored. You can sit in the shadows, maybe eat an apple, maybe read a book, maybe not – you are in the shadows, after all. But when they need entertainment, your throne is carved from the same wood as the cutting board. You bare your teeth and they teach you that there are hyena packs big enough to make a lion swallow its roar.
They say if you fuck a boy, you will die of AIDS, probably while serving prison time. They laugh and their unison sounds like fourteen fourteen fourteen years in prison. You can hear the blood rushing in their veins, feel their youth, feel their hate, and it is almost as thick as your silence.
Hate is not about logic. It has never been about logic, so you let them talk, and you say nothing, but you know what you know. You know that condoms exist, that medicine exists. That boys who fuck girls get AIDS too, in exactly the same way, and this is Africa anyway, we have so much AIDS it’s probably on the walls, so maybe we are all faggots. Just maybe. In this paradox where it is a strange madness for two boys to kiss, maybe we’re all a little bit gay. They can deny until the sun sighs and falls asleep, but they cannot say no homo to the gay porn statistics, because, if we’re being honest, it looks a lot like yes homo. But hate is not about honesty either.
Even though you do not speak, you cry out to them with your eyes. You tell the hyenas it is alright to wipe the bigotry off their fangs, it’s alright to put it all down, this deception of self, enough hiding to last them fourteen years, it is okay for a boy-hyena to want another boy-hyena. Love is not the problem in a world with wars and disappearance, a world with global warming, a world with AIDS.
AIDS is not about sexuality and hate is not about logic and I promise you: condoms will not stop existing.
Logan February is Nigerian and a teenager. He likes words and pizza.