The struggles faced by LGBTI Christian community are saddening and heart breaking. Queer persons of faith amongst the Christian community in Nigeria are living in fear and/or self denial.
Continuous acceptance, membership, Christian or religious relationship can exist only if your sexuality or queerness is not brought to the table. Once there’s a rumor or allegation, the warm embrace and cordial relationship that existed between the church and the individual automatically dissolves with the individual left to wallow in self pity, doubt, shame, guilt and brokenness. It is either, you denounce the “spirit” of homosexuality, accept and perform the necessary penance(praying and fasting), undergo Christian sexuality counseling, conform to the status quo of heteronormativity and be accepted back into the fold or you seize been a Christian.
This has driven many young LGBTI persons of faith out of the church; many are even questioning the authenticity of faith bodies. Many had gone as far as believing in the non existence of a higher being (God). The few ones that still have the courage and boldness to face the staunch homophobic environment in which the church is situated, do that mostly in denial of their real self; leading to internalized homophobia within the LGBTI community. Only few still have the courage to be committed to their various churches and somehow manage to live their truth, (based on individual strength and capacity). This reality has affected how LGBTI persons are perceived in their community and family, considering the fact that almost all homes and communities in Nigeria are heavily influenced by religion either Christian or Muslim. Our African tradition religion is considered evil.
- The Truth About Homosexuality And Christianity – With Dr. Stephen Lovatt
- YES! You Can Be an LGBTIQ Christian – Elizabeth Funke Obisanya
Most LGBTI Christian persons in Nigeria are homeless and jobless. The church through its homophobic structure, divide homes and cause families to denounce their LGBTI children. This has led to abuse and painful emotional torture of such individuals. Many dropout of school due to rejection by guardians and/or parents, some resort to male escort or sex work. Others out of self determination engage their acquired skills or talents but still suffer discrimination in their daily experience. The church has done nothing but to pursue and chase LGBTI persons far from the picture of salvation and redemption,(salvation is for only heterosexuals). The church’s abuse and discrimination of LGBTI community had been a long and century age practise that it slowly ate deep into the social system.
The advent of the Abrahamic religions came with amongst other things, the persecution, discrimination abuse and violation of the rights of LGBTI persons within and outside its religious circle. The contribution of queers Christians in their individual churches in terms of talent, time, treasures and resources are not accepted, recognized or considered by the church once you are out or outed. The LGBTI community, I can proudly say is a community full of talented, inspired and amazing individuals. This mere fact scares the Christian community into believing that Satan is taking over the church. Unknown to the church, homosexual persons are still in the church and deeply committed.
I believe the repeal of the same sex prohibition act in Nigeria would be a huge step toward the religious freedom of LGBTI community in Nigeria. This unnecessary law gave the religious bodies more right to preach hate and spread false assumptions about the queer community. Christians even believe that it’s the best bill Nigeria has ever signed to law. The problem here is that the state and religion are intertwined. In fact, there’s no Nigeria without religion. The more understanding state actors and religious leaders have around human sexuality, a welcoming and more acceptable society for the LGBTI community but the issue is that these religious leaders and policy makers have vehemently refused to be enlightened.