Giovanni Melton had always known he was gay. His sexuality wasn’t something he could hide either, and much younger than many people, Melton decided to live his truth. His father, a former Airline pilot was so incensed that his teenage son would choose to live publicly as a gay person that he began to threaten him with a gun. Eventually Melton’s father, Wendell pulled a gun on him and shot him to death rather than have him publicly live as a gay person and ’embarrass him’. When news first broke on viral Nigerian blogs about the death of Giovanni Melton, the consensus from Nigerian blog readers was disheartening. Many of them celebrated the actions of Giovanni’s father, echoing the man’s sentiments. They were livid that Melton would ‘disgrace’ his father so.
What kind of monster puts his own reputation over the life of his child?
This is a question too many Nigerian LGBT persons have had to ask themselves. We can surmise just how many Nigerian parents have pushed their children to suicide, or even murdered their children themselves rather than have to face the public ‘shame’ of having a child that is gay, either openly or in the closet. There are the well documented ‘deliverance’ sessions as reported in the Guardian by journalist Wana Udobang, that can either be as short as a fifteen minute prayer session or a year old torture session, often including physical restraints and beatings. Then there are the threats of being disowned as a way to keep LGBT persons in line and the forced marriages that homosexual men and women have to endure to ‘continue the family name’. Sure not many Nigerians take out a gun and shoot their children, but the end result is often pretty much the same.
It is ridiculous that we have to justify that the lives of the sexual minorities in Nigeria and elsewhere is more valuable than the social standing of their immediate and extended families, more valuable than their parent’s carefully crafted and maintained reputations, and more valuable than any prospective offspring.