Jide 26, South West, Nigeria

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My friend was arrested around the National Arts Theatre in Lagos because he owes someone some money. At the Police station they were taken to, they searched his phone and encountered gay pornography. From that moment, the story changed. One by one, he was forced to call several of his friends and deceived them to meet him up.

I answered that call and ended up behind bars. We were there for three days, and it was an avenue for the policemen to extort money from families who had to pay to get us out. I was let go when they saw that no one was forthcoming to pay for my bail. I left for Ibadan afterwards.

The second day I got to Ibadan, around Mokola area, I was walking to meet a friend who was waiting for me, and in a moment of madness, I was swarmed by an angry mob. ‘Look at this stupid gay’, and before I could summon the courage to answer them they had started slapping and beating me. To save  myself, I had no choice but to draw attention of passersby by shouting ‘thief, thief’. That was what saved me as people came around but my attackers escaped.

My mother realized I was different and at some point confronted me. She called me and once asked sarcastically in Yoruba, ‘se won o ma gbeyinwole fun e bayi?’ (I hope they have not been having anal sex with you this boy?)  She complained that I shook my butt like a woman. I denied it and frowned. But some of my brothers who are enlightened pressed further and accused me of being gay, because there was a friend of mine who used to come around to the house who also behaved like a lady. So they concluded that I was gay; I was around seventeen years of age at the time. I got fed up but there was nothing I could do.

I concluded that I couldn’t kill myself; at some point I sought for help from a church but they couldn’t help me. My parents despise me; they see me as an outcast. Being gay in Nigeria is comparable to someone who has leprosy, and unfortunately, a leper cannot come out freely in the community. Lepers cannot even give handshake in the community.