And just when the pastor was going to round up the preaching for the week, he brought up the one subject that makes me swallow hard in a gathering like that –
Of course, I swallowed.
Then he began his narration of what he’d been seeing in the papers – about how the same-sex bill could be revisited in Nigeria as homosexuality had become a global topic; about how the homosexuals are trying to take root in God’s church and lead people astray. A couple of prayers against us, present but unknown, were made. I was so stunned by the condemnatory nature of the prayers. And when the name of Jesus was called upon to stamp His approval on the supplication, I couldn’t say ‘Amen.’
How could I?
After all, I happen to be one of those whose “sin” he was preaching against, and I’m some known member of the church.
How do I deal with that? How would ANYONE deal with that?
I remember two church members were excommunicated on these grounds, each at a different time. One of them was a lesbian, or so it was implied. The congregation’s reaction was somewhat unanimous. I wished I was strong like those two, but I’m not.
Hours later, I noticed something outside the church walls. The streets have been talking. The infamous bands of debaters at the newspaper stands were talking. It felt like every Nigerian had their eyes on the Senate (or whoever it was that was responsible for the laws).
Our acceptance by the law should bring joy to us. I see hope for us.
But besides hope, I have a great deal of fear and worry. Now I find myself thinking: “So they pass a new bill. Give us our freedom. Then what?”
Does it wreak any magic on the members of my family?
Does a change in the law mean a change in their prejudice against who I am?
Yes, I’d get to move in with my boyfriend and start a new present tense – legally.
But would people then treat me like they would any other person?
Yes, I’d get to carry on my business confidently without the overhanging risk of the dreaded fourteen years.
But would I really get to enjoy that benefit – with a smile on my face? You know, without the homophobic deal all up on my face.
And what about my God? Do I get the freedom to worship him without inhibitions on Sundays, or sit back and cry like Mary Lambert once did?
Don’t get me wrong.
I have hope.
I’m really looking forward to a better future for me and people like me.
I have loads of hope.
But I’ve also got questions.
I believe we all do.
Written by Richard Moore