Africa / Commentary

Gay Nigerian: ‘My mum is still very much devastated’

Illustration for the No Strings podcast about James.

Illustration for the No Strings podcast about James.

“My mum feels that anytime anything bad happens, then it’s because of my sexual orientation.”

“My mum is still very much devastated,” says James, a gay Nigerian man, in describing how his family deals with his sexual orientation.

James, who still lives in Nigeria, tells his story in the latest episode of the No Strings podcasts, the first in a project that addresses the topic, “What Happened When They Knew?”

His family’s response to his sexual orientation has been difficult for James, as is Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2014, which punishes same-sex “amorous relationships” with 10 years in prison, threatens up to 14 years imprisonment for involvement in a same-sex marriage, and up to 10 years for members of LGBTI equality or advocacy groups.

“The current anti-gay law in the country is making me very uncomfortable,” James says. “I am scared that the police could use it to blackmail me.”

He has some hope, however: “My brothers are slowly, very slowly, coming around to being indifferent about my sexual orientation.”

But he himself hasn’t reached a full acceptance of his own sexual orientation: “Sometimes I relapse, as I still feel that I am wrong,” James says. “It has taken me a long time to make peace with myself. The battle with my sexuality is still sort of ongoing.”

The No Strings podcasts, which can be streamed or downloaded, provide a voice for the LGBTIQ community in  Nigeria; they are the first of their kind in Nigeria. They are presented in the form of a traditional radio program that  chronicles the struggles, tells the stories, and reports on issues affecting the lives of LGBTIQ Nigerians.

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