The Misinformation of Denial

A fair portion of the talk with Jude Dibia this evening was spent discussing the concept that many Africans when encountered with homosexuality of some sort are incredibly afraid and act in a way of denial. We see this in Walking with Shadows, the way Ada and Adrian’s brothers act toward the news of him being gay. It takes a great deal of time for them to acknowledge the credibility of what Adrian just said and revealed to them. However, I kept returning to the scene that in Dibia’s novel that, from my perspective, seemed to defy that idea of denial, in fact possibly indicating over-acceptance, if that even makes sense. The scene I’m referring to is that of Rotimi, when he basically forces his way into Adrian’s car in order to take advantage of a free ride home.

Rotimi reveals during the ride that he had a sexually experimental experience with a gay man at the bank that he knows, all the while continuing to insist on his love for women. Rotimi is clearly very confused and frightened, not certain where to turn next for love, turning subsequently to the only person near by whom he feels he can embrace in the moment how he feels, Adrian:

“Slowly Rotimi began leaning toward Adrian. At the point when their lips almost touched, Adrian backed away, breaking the spell.

‘Rotimi stop!’ he sighed. ‘You don’t have to do this.’

‘I want to, Adrian.’

‘No, you don’t!’ Adrian pressed.” (163).

Ultimately what I feel, is that Rotimi is actually exhibiting a sort of denial. He’s denying, whether consciously or not, of the implications and meaning of homosexuality. This also displays one of the underlying issues at the center of this novel, the misinformation that circulates about homosexuality in Nigeria. There is so little accurate information regarding different forms of sexuality that Rotimi doesn’t know how properly analyze his feelings with any other lens other than the one the homophobic Nigerian culture and government have taught him. Additionally, this misinformation and denial fosters massive fear displayed greatly by the characters in this scene. Rotimi is scared shitless to the possibility of being gay and what being in the car with Adrian means for him. That same fear drives Adrian to basically kick out of the car the only person to show him some kind of kindness who didn’t previously know he was homosexual. Ultimately, they’ve created a cycle of fear, misinformation and denial, in which Adrian and Rotimi are the latest victims.

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Posted on November 14, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. kowlessarchristine

    I find it interesting that you consider Rotimi’s “over-acceptance” a form of denial. When reading this part of the novel at first I just thought that Rotimi was simply, as you stated, confused and frightened. And now I realize it is not so simple at all. From my understanding, you are claiming that the denial exhibited in this scene is to deny oneself an understanding of exactly what it means to be homosexual. And I would have to agree. I think Rotimi is walking on that line between identity and sexuality. He does not understand that being gay is not what makes a person and he does not understand how to address his experience with a man given the homophobia that surrounds him. And because people are not understanding of homosexuality, because people are not taking the time to recognize that we are all just human beings, there is a result of fear, a fear of the unknown. Honestly, it is quite sad. When one does not understand something, the usual response is to at least try to.

  2. I agree that the take on Rotimi’s “over-acceptance” as a form of denial is interesting. When I read the scene, I saw the scene as over-compensation to Adrian to tell him that he was okay with him being gay. Rotimi is a character that can be seen as questioning his sexuality and being free in trying new things. I think Rotimi is an example of the society in Nigeria that tries to silence homosexuality, but willing to explore various preferences when the topic is more specific. The lean in for the kiss also shows the lack of understanding homosexuality in Nigeria society because Rotimi instantly felt he had to compensate Adrian for telling him the news.

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