Nigerians struggle with the idea of intersectionality. We find it difficult to consider other people’s voices that intersect with ours; prioritizing our pain as the only one worth noting. This behavior is harmful and continues to make our fight against oppression unidirectional, selfish, and most times futile. The phrase: No one is free until everyone is free, might come across as a regularly used sentence to support views that oppose our bigoted ideologies, but in actuality, it is as true as it comes.
The very structure of oppression is layered and refractive. It is a double-edged sword that can swing our way at any given time without notice. You might not support women’s rights but that bigotry will soon come back around, specifically when you are burdened with unreasonable requirements on your masculinity.
If you consider the #EndSars movement a fight for everyone, but your definition of ‘everyone’ only includes straight, cis-heterosexual Nigerians, then you are not truly fighting oppression. The very fact that Nigeria continues to oppress LGBTQ+ persons is a sign that the very base of oppression itself is yet to be stemmed. It is worthy to note that Queer Nigerians are disproportionately affected by police brutality, way more than other Nigerians experience violence in the hands of SARS. It is also worthy to note that the women who are out protesting and leading the movement, will have to accost the unending plague that is sexual harassment after these protests are over. Some are even being groped and harassed at these protests!
I’m NOT going to ignore misogyny and queerphobia in the name of fighting a common enemy.
If you think your life is the only one worth protecting, you’re part of the problem. #SARSMUSTEND
— Alté Joro (@NerdEfiko) October 12, 2020
And so when queer folks or women decide to make their protests as distinct as possible, when they point out the specific ways the Nigerian police through SARS and many other units make their lives unbearable, it is important that we understand that they deserve the right to speak up. The face of the oppression is not just straight, male, respectable, or socially passable; the face of this oppression is also female, queer and many other underreported voices that need to be heard, platformed, and given proper attention.
Yell it in your streets. We get killed for being queer. It’s crazy pic.twitter.com/KIGaaGbKk7
— Son of the Rainbow AKA LGBTQ+ CLASS CAPTAIN🏳️🌈 (@Blaise_21) October 10, 2020
Nelson C.J is a culture writer with works in The New York Times, Xtra Magazine, OkayAfrica, Black Youth Project, AfroPunk, and a few other spaces. You can find him saving dog pictures on Twitter.