Should queer Nigerians celebrate LGBT Pride Month?

LGBT Pride is the promotion of the self-affirmation, equality, and increased visibility of LGBTQ people all over the world as a social group. Throughout the month of June, LGBT people celebrate “Life” as it were, and chronicle struggles, fears, and hopes in the Media.

By Kingsley Adrian Banks

Each year, the month of June is marked as the “Pride Month”; a time when LGBTQ people all over the world partake in Pride Marches and attend events, all aimed at bolstering support and self-acceptance for LGBT people. It is also a time when International brands and companies lend their support to queer people by splashing the “rainbow color” across their brands’ social media graphics.

LGBTIQ+ Nigerians at a pride event. (Photo Source: liffenigeria.org)

In Nigeria, a lot of queer people—especially on social media—take particular interest and reverence in the month of June.

Queer events, though very much underground and hush-hush, do take place across thriving metropolitan cities within Nigeria, which leads me to the question: should queer Nigerians celebrate LGBT Pride Events?

Personally, while adopting a more detached perspective, I will present two answers: yes and no. Both answers are to be explained within a historical context.

It is not news that LGBTQ issues in Nigeria are volatile, divisive, and explosive. The Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2014 [SSMPA 2014]  has also been a niggling, insistent thorn in the flesh of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender in Nigeria, with the auspices of the SSMPA 2014 emboldening Nigerians to harass,  blackmail, beat, extort, and, in some cases, kill LGBTIQ+ people. To buttress this point, we have the very recent case of Kachi, a young gay man who was targeted, caught (in Bayelsa), stripped naked, and mercilessly whipped and beaten before being taken into police custody.

So, to explain the above poser where I asked if Queer people should celebrate Pride in Nigeria, I still present two answers: No and Yes. No, because the SSMPA 2014 still poses a terrible existential threat to people who identify within the LGBTQ spectrum in Nigeria, and incidences of severe human rights abuses against LGBT people might continue, unchecked unless that law is repealed and LGBT people in Nigeria get an assurance of their human rights as encoded in Nigeria’s Constitution; and yes, because, in spite of the SSMPA 2014 and the gross human rights violations that come with it, many Queer Nigerians are rising up and choosing to just Live and thrive and be themselves. For this latter reason, living, or trying to live and catch snatches of happiness and love and fun in a hostile, restrictive environment where the ultimate supremacy of heterosexual people is regarded as a given and anything outside that heteronormative leaning is severely frowned upon, is commendable.

Thus, in June, LGBT Nigerians—both those living within Nigeria against all odds and those who have fled the country to seek a better life in other countries—meet up and catch snippets of fun and engage the larger society wherever possible on LGBT issues as it affects them. In that regard, it is their own way of showing to people that LGBT people do exist, work in organizations, are brothers and sisters and cousins and friends to their straight counterparts, and have a right to thrive just as their heterosexual counterparts are doing.

So, should queer people celebrate Pride? Yes, positively, they should, if ever and wherever they can, for, in spite of the SSMPA 2014, they still carve out a space for themselves and they try to live, love, and have fun, just like everybody else.

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