When the Feminist Coalition released a series of tweets supporting the #QueerNigerianLivesMatter movement, the Nigerian Twitter space literally turned on its head. The number of negative tweets that followed was indicative of one major thing- Nigeria was not ready to speak up against its homophobia and would be happy it remained that way.
Going through the replies of the Feminist Coalition’s tweets would have made anyone who was of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally depressed. Only a few responses, mostly from allies, were positive. Some felt this was the case of a hijack, while others felt the LGBTQ+ community should have waited until the current protests died down before speaking up on any issue concerning them.
With all due Respect 🙏🏽, YOU SHOULD STOP THIS RUBBISH.
The LGBGTQ+ community wants to Hijack our Protest. We appreciate all the Ladies @feminist_co for the good work they are doing. Pls DON'T SPOIL THIS #EndSARS and #EndSWAT movement with this #QueerNigerianlivesmatter shit!!!!
— Seye Oyekunle (@seye_oyekunle) October 18, 2020
This is an agreement dat will only bring division among our country. Homosexuality is a mental sexual preference, a topic that is not related to our struggles nw. Pls let us stay focus. even if aliens from any planet want to join us achieve our aims and goals, so be it. #EndSARS
— Engr. Henry Obaweiki (@obaweiki) October 18, 2020
Would Nigeria ever have a moment where queer people are allowed to come out as a group to protest? That’s the first question. Secondly, will their safety be guaranteed? Probably not because the Same-Sex (Prohibition) Act prohibits such a gathering. So why are some protesters uncomfortable with queer people highlighting the fact that they are also being oppressed and victims of police brutality?
These are the questions that creep up when one ponders the suggestion that queer people should not speak up now. The push for the wait could mean Nigerians are not interested in ending homophobia anytime soon and are just looking for excuses; likely not to give a listening ear if any queer related advocacy pops up in the future.
A Twitter user @iam_ThePaulo who noticed people trying to shut out the voices of the LGBTQ+ community gave an interesting take on the matter. He wrote in his tweet:
“The kind of tweets I’ve been seeing from Nigerians ehn… It’s as if if SARS only kidnapped, extorted, killed and harassed the LGBTQ. Some of you would be okay with it #EndSARS.”
His take mirrors the reality of the LGBTQ+ community in Nigeria. This is because many Nigerians have stated on social media wholeheartedly that they support the police harassment of queer people and even lend a hand when jungle justice is meted upon them.
Toluwanimi Onakoya is a spirited writer, creative and videographer. Her biggest drive is to connect with people and depict tales using various forms of media.
Toluwanimi is available on Instagram and Twitter @nimi_onaks