What I have to say is something most people do not know or readily talk about. Homophobia among Nigerians or Africans in diaspora is of major concern to me. I often hear of young Nigerians who have journeyed far away from home and away from the scourge of homophobia, to a land where they presume they can be free to be themselves and experience a new environment where they can meet people like them, and yet they cannot enjoy this new found freedom, thanks to the increasing number of African or Nigerian communities in the West.
We read about some very hurtful kito experiences in Nigeria and we cringe and sigh with disgust, but a young naïve boy/girl also experiences daily humiliation and gay-related hostility as a student living abroad, afraid of reporting to the authority for fear of being outed to his family back home or fear of rejection from his/her African community. Those who have actually dared to forget whatever ties they have with home and live their lives freely irrespective, deal with threats and name calling, snide remarks and sometimes discrimination when they encounter fellow Nigerians.
Now, some of us have been brilliant enough to handle such people and put them in their place, but an increasing number of young guys resort to depression and possible suicide. Some of my other friends from other races discuss such issues with me, and it’s no wonder they sum up so much negative thoughts about Africa. This in particular breaks my heart; as mildly they tend to make me see it, as much as they try to coat their disdain of my homeland, I already know they are thinking it.
I particularly want to commend people who have dared to live their lives far above this hate and have enjoyed the freedom in these foreign lands to the fullest. A number of these people have dared to move out of the shell that didn’t just bind them at home, but also followed them across waters, and they are now reaching out to others. The need for a sense of belonging has pushed gay young men to the claws of hostile homophobes and this has affected the self esteem of a lot of young Africans in so many immense ways. I was lucky enough to meet someone earlier (a Nigerian) who had faced homophobia among Nigerians in the diaspora but has risen above it all to be a better and finer person in the society; this young man is my best friend (he also reads KD), and he helped me realise my true self whilst giving me that sense of belonging I so desired.
I personally want to urge other gay men abroad, who have found themselves in similar circumstances and have risen above it, to reach out. You don’t know whose life, self esteem, courage, and freedom you might be saving.
Written by Anonymous