Ngozi, 32, South East, Nigeria

I am from one of the Eastern states of Nigeria. Right now I am jobless, having being forced to quit my last job because of the treatment I was getting on a daily basis which has become unbearable. I worked with a company that outsources security operations. As you can see, I am effeminate, while this reality which I have no control over is my greatest undoing.

I have been bullied right from childhood, and up till now the bullying is yet to stop. And when it became unbearable I decided to stop going to work altogether. Many times, I have contemplated suicide. Okay, you tell me (asks me), how do I change the tone of my voice? How do I change the way I walk? People complain I walk like a woman. I don’t know how I walk, and I just walk like every other person walks.

How could I have chosen how I would walk? They also say my gesticulations are like that of a woman. So, basically, my sins were that I am who I am. Truly when I look at myself I feel more like a lady than a man. That is to be truthful. But this is not my doing and I have no control over it. I relocated far away from my family members because they found out about my sexuality and rather than deal with it, they wanted the ‘spirit of homosexuality’ exorcised from my body, as if there is anything like that. My younger sister lived with me. She is fond of bringing men over to the house which I frowned at. So because of this disagreement, she opened up to my parents about me.

I was invited to the village, and before I know what was happening I was in front of a traditional priest who was already waiting for us. I spent eight days virtually under lock and key, forced to drink different concoctions in the process. After the 8th day, my father came for me. I was not sure how much he parted with, but it involved a considerable amount of money on their side. Since I was deemed cured, my mother had arranged for a wife to be married off to me. I pretended I loved their plans, I had to, it was the only way to escape, which I eventually did. And here I am, disconnected from all the people I love.