Titilade, Port Harcourt, South-South, Nigeria

My name is Titilade, I live in Port Harcourt here. I am a student of one of the Federal Polytechnics.

I can say my experience has shifted from good to bad, to worse and back to good. And it keeps shifting between these conditions, never static, but I guess that’s pretty much the same for everybody. My parents discovered quite early that I am lesbian. And being religious persons, I was moved from one deliverance session to another and from one church to the other. Even within me, I was convinced I was possessed, because of the way I was rather attracted to girls rather than to boys. After years of countless trips to different spiritual healing centers and exorcism exercises, I think my parents just gave up on me. I could sense the disconnection of attachment and loss of interest in me, as if I no longer exist for them. So at that point I left home and started moving from friend to friend to lay my head. I took up several menial jobs to survive, and was saving my income so I could eventually rent a place for myself. At the end of the day, I ended up in Abuja where I got a room in a shared apartment and got a job at a restaurant. The idea that I was actually possessed failed to leave my mind, and I began to consult spiritualists to drive this ‘bad spirit’ out of me. This aspect of my life is actually a story to be told on its own. I have seen things. I have been bathed by a pastor; I have slept within candles until they burnt off, and several other unprintable things.

There was this particular one. I just styled my hair with hair attachments, which was expensive. When I got there, I was asked to remove it all. I had no choice. When the prayers were over and on my way home, the first person I met was a lady who has a shop by the junction of the church, and I could not take my eyes off her! I realized instantly that the whole prayer thing was a waste of time. On another occasion, I had slept in the church with fasting and prayer, and when I eventually returned home I was tired, and too weak to cook, so I called one of the girls we worked together to help me make food.

After we ate and she was about to leave, one thing led to another and we ended up in each other’s arms. In fact I wanted to go back to that prophet to ask him to refund back all the money I had spent because he promised I will never be attracted to a woman again. On that note I gave up. Then the main battle – each time my friends come around, my male flat mates and their friends usually ask them out. Because of the constant turn down of their requests, they concluded we all must be lesbians. And they would have none of that.

I hardly can walk on the street without suggestive  glances and gossips about me. It got to a point that my landlord called me that he was  giving me two weeks to pack out or he would be forced to come and drive me out himself. He is a military officer, so I took his threat seriously. I also overheard my flat mates planning to rape us once we are in. They were unaware I was inside, so they talked freely. This was not long after the new law against homosexually was passed in 2014. So with the reports I have been having from different quarters of what people have been experiencing, I had no choice than to run to Ghana, to an only friend I know could accommodate me, who was based there.

On getting to Ghana, I realized my friend was into prostitution, and I couldn’t join in. She tried pressurizing me by asking that I contribute to the housekeep, at which time I went back to do menial jobs. It was in the process that I got linked to a woman in Nigeria who I learned could offer me abode. And she did. She also made sure I enrolled in school where I am currently studying. This woman runs a Non-profit organization. I have lost all contacts with my family members and loved ones; I have faced threats to my life and I am constantly under fear and uncertainty just because of my sexuality. I don’t know if you understand how this is, but it has not been the best of experience.

Now, I have been forced to have a boyfriend to wade off suspicions, and my boyfriend is always quarrelling with me, because I am not there for him emotionally. How do I tell him he is just a cover, that I feel nothing for him? I pity him because I think he loves me, and he is a nice guy, but I am simply not into men. And that is just the reality I hope Nigerians can understand, that some of us come differently, and it doesn’t make us less human.