7 Nigerians Reveal How They Discovered Their Queerness

June 8, 2020

June is Pride Month — an annual celebration of LGBTQ+ people from all around the world. Granted, it’s not easy to celebrate in a country like Nigeria, that has its queerphobia boldly written into law.

Still, this vibrant community refuses to be silenced. So, to celebrate their resilience, we asked a bunch of Nigerians to reveal the moment they discovered their queerness, and what that means to them.

Titi, 26/Female/Lesbian

I kind of always knew I wasn’t straight; I just didn’t know what I was. When I got to college, I had my first boyfriend and I remember telling my friends that I didn’t like having sex with him, even though I liked him. 

He and his friends would also accuse me of talking about girls and looking at them in a way that indicated I was interested in them as more than friends. At that point, I started to realise and accept that I wasn’t straight.

I broke up with my boyfriend in 2013, but I didn’t experience being with a woman until 2015. I came out as bi after being with her. I still dated men and women after that, even though I knew I was really a lesbian.

In 2019, I met a guy that ticked every conceivable box, but the more serious it got, the more trapped I felt. A few months later, I broke up with him and finally came out as a lesbian to my friends and family. 

James, 26/Male/Gay

I was 7 when I first kissed a boy, and I really liked it. At 13, I had kissed more boys and I didn’t feel like kissing girls at all. I called myself bisexual, even though I knew I wasn’t. I just wanted to seem slightly normal. 

I was 19 when I finally decided to accept myself and my sexuality. It was right after another one of my failed attempts to ‘pray the gay away’. It didn’t take me long after that to embrace myself fully

Mary, 25/Female/Bisexual

I finally realised I wasn’t straight in university. I fell in love with a female friend and I was suddenly very willing to explore for her. The signs of my queerness had always been there, but I just refused to see it.

I grew up deeply religious, and I think that stopped me from allowing myself to feel those things. When I finally realised I was queer, I struggled with it for a few months. Then, gradually, I began to accept who I am.

Emeka, 26/Male/Bisexual

I’ve always kind of known something was different about me. I remember trying to kiss a classmate when I was 10 in boarding school, but he rebuffed my advances. 

Anyway, I was 22 and visiting New York. I went to a club that called itself an “expressive space” — there were stripper poles on the dance floor and people were dressed pretty interestingly.

A couple (M/F) walked up to me and we started talking. They seemed really nice and welcoming. After a couple of drinks, we started to dance and, in the euphoria of the moment, the man kissed me.

I actually kissed him back. It was weird for me, but I enjoyed it. After that night, I did some self-reflection and connected the dots from past experiences. That’s when I came to the conclusion that I’m not straight.

I’m still embracing this part of myself. I haven’t even had sex with a man yet, and it’s been 4 years since that night. I think I’m just trying to be careful because of how Nigeria is. 

Cynthia, 20/Female/Pansexual

I’ve always been attracted to both boys and girls, but because of the way our society is, I kept mute. I even tried praying it away, but that obviously didn’t work.

It wasn’t until I joined social media that I found a bunch of voices in the LGBTQ+ community that made me feel aware that there wasn’t anything wrong with me.

Then just last two years, I realised that my attraction wasn’t limited to just the binary spectrum and cis-normative. I fully embraced my queerness a year ago, but I’m not yet out to everyone in my life.

Timi, 21/Male/Bisexual

I always just knew I wasn’t straight. I may not have known the words to define myself, but I can’t remember a time I wasn’t attracted to men. I even had a huge crush on Pat Attah growing up. 

I always just assumed that something was fundamentally wrong with me, so I never spoke about it to anyone. Later I’d learn from religion that my feelings were abominable. 

Then I read a religious book that said the feelings were normal during puberty, but with time and prayers, they would go away. Even though I knew puberty wasn’t the reason, I still held out hope.

Well, I got older and prayed a lot, but the feelings never went away. I don’t know that I’ve even fully embraced my queerness. I’m still not out to my family or any of my real-life friends. 

I even struggled with answering the sexual orientation question. I have been intimate with women and I feel some attraction for them, but I’m more attracted to men. I’m still figuring it out.

Bunmi, 26/Female/Bisexual

I’d say I have known I was attracted to women since I was 5. Whenever we played ‘mummy and daddy’, I had to have a wife. So, yeah, I’ve always liked being with girls.

I was 9 when I had my first kiss. It was with a 13-year-old girl I met at a birthday party. My heart would race every time I saw her. She fully had my mumu button.

That being said, I never dated women. I avoided that part of myself for so long. For the longest time, I described my bisexuality like it was a bad habit I needed to quit.

I hooked up with women now and then, but I dreaded any form of emotional intimacy. So, I was very clinical about it. I never slept with a woman more than three times. 

Well, all of that has changed. I finally met a woman who drives me wild. I love her and, for the first time in my life, I feel fucking free.  I wish I had the courage to own my sexuality sooner.

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