nigeria in my blood, nigeria hates my blood

| March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

I love being Nigerian. Period. Most, if not all, Nigerians love their country and culture. If you know a Nigerian, you probably know how loud and proud we are to be Nigerian. From our Jollof rice to highlife music, there are just so many things to enjoy to the fullest. A lot of history and richness runs in our blood. Kings and queens, innovators, creators of excellence. We all carry our heritage with pride.

But in a nation with so much pride, there is a resistance to the LGBTQ+ community.

Quite the juxtaposition, right? Just as certain things are interwoven into the culture, there are cisgender and heteronormativity threads as well. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, reaching nearly 160 million people. Now, I ain’t no expert in math but if my calculations are right, not everyone is heterosexual. Just a hunch. So why is there so much hate toward the LGBTQ+ community? In a country that shows so much love and appreciation for one another, why do they consider anyone who is queer to be a disgusting outsider?

While many African countries are all kinds of phobic (I’m gonna use this as an encompassing term to include homophobic, biphobic, transphobic, etc…), it doesn’t really surprise me that Nigeria is no exception. The nation is split almost 50/50 between Christianity and Islam, both notoriously known for not being the nicest to queer folk. It might be hard to conclude that religion is why people are so intolerant, but I think it has a hand to play in it.

As of right now, there are no LGBTQ+ rights acknowledged in Nigeria. If you are openly out, you could face up to 14 years in prison. 14 years. Let that sink in. Same-sex marriage is illegal, gay people are not allowed to serve in the military, and MSMs (males who have sex with males) aren’t allowed to give blood. The stigma around the LGBTQ+ community is very evident, and nationwide efforts are put in place to ostracize them.

It’s mind-boggling to see the severe contrast to the Nigeria I know and the culture that I was raise to love, and the ingrained hatred and disgust with the LGBTQ+ community. They claim to be loving and to want to make people feel included, but go out of their way to exclude anyone who doesn’t fit the “norm.” This is such a distorted definition of acceptance, if the only people you accept are just like you. Taking drastic measures to silence those who are just trying to express who they really are emphasizes a deep-seeded problem with ‘change.’ Queer people have been around since people have existed, but with society being more accepting, there are more people coming out. But when governmental laws are put in place to punish your sole being, it’s hard to not think that maybe the problem is with you. If you deserve to be punished for being who you are, then maybe you should feel ashamed. Years of oppression that LGBTQ+ folks have endured are only reinforced in scenarios like this. Imagine living your life everyday knowing that you could risk going to prison, being stigmatized & ostracized, or even killed for simply being yourself.

Where’s the pride in that?

 

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photo credit: torbakhopper rainbow country : flag, harvey milk plaza, castro, san francisco (2014) via photopin (license)

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Category: Columns, featured, The (Sex)es

Ruth D.

About the Author ()

Ruth is a sophomore studying Health Science. She's VERY passionate about anything from the 80s. She has a new found love for dogs & spends too much time thinking about questions that don't have answers. And about ramen.

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