Haunted by the law, abandoned by families: Underground lives of Nigerian homosexual men, lesbians, others - Punch Newspapers
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Alade, however, added that no single gene had a large effect on sexuality as it was usually a communication of genes and/or hormones.“This is a big research gap to be explored, because there’s insufficient data to establish one or more culprit genes affecting sexuality,” he stated.
Lesbian but married to a manFor a married woman, Boma who has two boys, her sexuality is something she has embraced notwithstanding her marriage bond and ties with her children.“I love my husband so much. That was why I agreed to marry him. In fact, I felt I was going to change when I got into the marriage, but here I am; I am still the same – I love women.
“I love women in a way that I can never love a man and that is the truth I am not sure my husband and children are ready to face,” she said choking on her words.She said, “My mother found out because she saw me and my lover then on my phone. She threatened fire and brimstone and took me for deliverance and all that. I left the house for her. This marriage I am in, I am in it so she would accept that I have changed, but I know I haven’t. I pray my husband finds out who I really am. I am not scared. I think he even knows. The only people I am afraid of are my lovely boys. I don’t know if they would forgive me. But I have to live and not just exist.” headtopics.com
A transgender, Uche, has gone into depression for some years after he told his mother, Mrs Chinwe, about his sexuality who dragged him to a spiritual home for deliverance. Uche stated that the man constantly physically and sexually abused him on the premises of his prayer house.
“The pastor would cane me with a broom after tying my hands tied to the back and my eyes blindfolded and he would ask me to confess. Confess what? I told him that I felt there was a woman trapped inside my body and he wanted me to confess? They starved me for days and said I was fasting so God and his angels would come down and deliver me from every ‘transgender spirit’.”
“On one occasion, my mum was in the pastor’s living room and the spiritualist took me to the deliverance room, ordered his boys to tie me up, blindfold me as usual and he told me to lick whatever he put in my mouth. I knew what he put in my mouth was not food or anointing oil; it was his manhood. I tasted it and spat out and screamed for my mum to rescue me. What broke me was when I came out to the sitting room after he had sodomised me was that my mum was praying for my deliverance. She had no idea what the man who conducted the deliverance did to me.
“I absconded from the house and have been living as a woman ever since. I have been on dates with men who don’t even know I was a man. I haven’t completed my gender reassignment surgery. When I do, I will be happy.”Paying the priceA gay man identified only as Bide would have been a medical student at a federal university in the South-South if his mother had not found out that he preferred men to women. headtopics.com
He had always been a pious child, having grown up in the Catholic Church. His uncle, Father Erasmus, was a respected parish priest but it was under his roof that Bide and a manservant, Ndubuisi, began to fondly touch their vital parts as they slept together.
Bide said the act went on for some time before Father Erasmus noticed the undue closeness and cautioned them against the ‘spirit of ungodliness.’“I don’t know if he saw us, but one night, he sat us down and warned us to be wary of ungodliness and the tactics of the devil,” Bide said, reeling out a booming laughter.
“He eventually saw us one night as we kissed ourselves in the corridor. He didn’t shout. He quietly called our parents and had a private meeting with them as we packed our belongings and left, It happened 10 years ago,” he added.Bide further stated that his mother changed from what he used to know as she stopped him from attending mass and joining other boys to go out.
“One day, she told me he would stop me from going to school if I didn’t stop what I was doing. Confused, I asked, “What, mummy? What are you talking about?” She responded, “Father Erasmus told me everything.”Though he passed UTME and is awaiting university admission, Bide told our correspondent that his mum vowed to see positive changes in his behaviour before she could allow him seek university admission. headtopics.com
Bide said, “I am a gay. I see my mates doing a lot of things, but here I am in my mother’s house, eating her food and wasting away.”If life had permitted, Esther, who revealed she’s a lesbian, would have taken her life after three attempts.She told Saturday PUNCH that she was filmed making out with a lover and was blackmailed into paying lots of money which she didn’t disclose the amount.
Esther said, “Despite paying the money, they sent the videos to my contacts and my father saw it. Calls came in from everywhere that morning asking me how I got myself involved in a mess. I couldn’t take it. I mixed a few pills with kerosene and drank it but I didn’t die.”
She added that she hadn’t returned home since then as her mother told her not to step foot in her house after the scandal resulted in her father’s death.Pro-LGBTQ activistsSome pro-LGBTQ activists expressed displeasure regarding abandonment and disownment of some of their members by family, friends and loved ones based on their sexual orientation.
A programme officer at the Mobile Foundation for Health Security and Rehabilitation, Nigeria, Gilbert Victor, linked the reason to religion and tradition.Victor said, “The rate at which Nigerian families disown their loved ones is alarming. This is because everything in this country, including sexuality, is linked to religion and tradition. It is obvious that Nigerian families are more religious than actual people who brought the religion to them.’’
He also noted that the law against same-sex message was the ‘backbone’ on which law enforcement agent leveraged to abuse members of the community.“It was almost as if they were waiting for the act to be signed so they’d use that as ground to perform all manner of atrocities and abuse. The rate of abuse and violence towards community members has increased since the law took off in 2014,” he added.
For a Nigerian novelist, Kingsley Adrian, being gay in Nigeria is tied to morality, adding that with the signing of the law against same-sex marriage, it became tougher for LGBTQ people to survive in the country.The author of ‘Behind Closed Doors’, a novel on homosexuality and gender non-conformity in Nigeria, said, “Being gay was a morality issue in Nigeria, one that had people pulling the morality card—that’s, in the past. However, from the moment the law came, the tide changed. Gay people who lived in the “open” fled underground; suspected gay people were often set-up, beaten, arrested, harassed and extorted by members of police who understood the kind of power they wielded over queer people in Nigeria and were overly willing to exercise that power.’’
Also, the Founder, Queercitypodcast.com, an online queer podcast, Olaide Timileyin, said being queer in Nigeria was not the best for anyone especially when it had to do with human rights protection and fighting injustice.“Anybody in Nigeria is empowered by the system to kill you, literally take your life and you won’t get justice,” he said.
Timileyin added that some LGBTQ in Nigeria were denied jobs based on their perceived sexual orientation as they were seen as ‘threats’ to the company’s economic growth.Same-sex relationships from diverse lensesThe issue of historical link between homosexuality and Africa has been topical. Some writers have argued its un-Africanness, while other scholars’ studies indicated that homosexuality had been in Africa from inception and not imported into the country.
Dwelling on the issue, a Professor of History, at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Akin Alao, said, “The concept of homosexuality has not been historicised adequately in Nigeria. What is available is limited to stories and hearsay accounts, especially in Northern Nigeria. Kunle Afolayan’s movie ‘October 1’ should have provided more insight into homosexuality in colonial Nigeria and among the elite. It did not, however, go deep enough.
For Asiogu Ugochukwu, an independent researcher and historian, homosexuality both as behaviour and an act is in no way un-Africa and it had existed among Africans in the past.“As a practice and behaviour, it had existed among Africans in the past. Hence, the Yoruba and Hausa words for it: Adofuro and Yan daudu. In Igbo language, it is also known as
Idina udi onwe, which is loosely interpreted to be ‘same sex.’He added, “In the pre-colonial times, homosexualiy had existed but was not given much preference, maybe because it was anti-African culture and therefore was practised secretly or because people simply ignored it and took it as a normal behaviour that further expressed the dynamics of human nature.’’
Another historian, Abiola Omosaye, who is also researcher at Academia.edu, said that homosexuality in Africa had always been there as its root could be traced to different African practices.He noted, “Although the newness of the field of study on the continent may bring some major contradictions largely because most of her history was undocumented. However, alienation of the fact speaks a whole lot about domestic deprivation of knowledge. In pre-colonial Africa, there existed major homosexual practices but most of these were largely regarded as sacred and may not be permitted to be documented by explorers, or missionaries at the time, and those that weren’t flourished upon the African culture of acceptance and peculiarities.’’
On homosexuality and psychology, a behavioural psychologist and independent researcher, Usen Essien, stated that homosexuality was not a disorder and no research found any association between any sexual orientations and psychopathology.He noted, “Lesbian, gay and bisexual orientations are not disorders. Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behaviour and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organisations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. Lesbian, gay and bisexual relationships are normal forms of human bonding.’’
He added that no agreement among researchers about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation.In the aspect of religion, an Islamic scholar, Adeyefe Abdulfatai, said even if the two principal books guiding the operations of Islam – the Qur’an and the Hadith – do not explicitly spell out homosexuality, every Muslim is expected to abstain from all sexual lusts or face punishment from Allah.
“In the Qur’an, it is not explicitly stated that Muslims should stay away or not. There is no ban talking about the homosexuality per se. We are meant to know from the story of Prophet Lut, which the Christians call Lot, that some of the villagers tried to initiate anal sex during his time in which the Qur’an frowned at that.
“That’s the only place you can see the issue of gay itself. But lesbianism, transgender and others were not explicitly stated in the Qur’an. However, there are some teachings and jurisdictions that made it clear that Muslims should not partake in such. So, as a Muslim, this means we are not expected to indulge in such acts. This is why as Muslims we don’t encourage celibacy.”
On deliverance in Islam for someone involved in same-sex relationship, Abdulfatai said it would be a failure on the path of the parents if a child turned out to a gay.He stated, “For a child to engage in such, it would be a failure on the path of the parents. In Islam, we are meant to enjoy what is good and forbid what is bad. So, as a Muslim, if a child engages in such, he or she would be called and cautioned that what he or she did is not good. He or she would also seek forgiveness from Allah the Islam way.’’
On his part, Bishop Rodson Emmanuel of the Cathedral of Faith, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, stated that God’s permanent position to all humans, including LGBTQ people, was love.“God’s position has always been love. That’s God’s position, because that is what his nature is. God does not see people in the eyes of what they do, through the lens of nature. He sees people through the lenses of who he is – love. What you do – your sexual orientation, psychology on sex, whatever it is that you believe in – does not and will not change the fact that God has a permanent position which is love. God loves you irrespective of who you are or what you do. Our mission as preachers is to teach the word of God and the word in turn builds character.”
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