Written by Ayo F.*
Tonight, just like every other night, I go to bed with a slightly heavy heart as I wonder what to do with the rest of my life. I wonder if I am ever going to be happy. I wonder if I am ever going to be out of my closet.
I wonder if I am ever going to be free.
I’m a lesbian who lives in a homophobic society in West Africa. It hurts to carry this secret. It’s like a plague and it breaks my heart.
Tonight, I write from my closet, that place that I have been confined to. That place that I hide my face. That place that I hide my feelings. That place from where I write this.
In my society there are a lot of misconceptions about gay people. Some people think a gay person will eventually grow out of it. Others think we are possessed by an evil spirit and we need to be delivered.
It’s a Crime to be Gay
Everyday I live with the fear of being discriminated against and of being jailed. Being lesbian here is a taboo. It is something that is not meant to be talked about in the open.
One can spend up to 10 years in jail for being in a gay relationship and 14 years for engaging in a gay marriage here. It’s totally unacceptable and it is a well defined crime!
When I Knew I was a Lesbian
I grew up like every other normal teenager in Nigeria. I wanted to go to parties and befriend boys. But when I started dating a boy at 19, I knew something was not right about it. That was the same year I met my first girlfriend and I felt something much deeper.
Just like me, there are other queer women who live in this homophobic society. Over the years
I have met and befriended several queer girls like myself mostly from social media, birthday parties and through mutual friends. We keep in touch through social media.
Over the years, I have learned to accept who I am even if my society may never accept me. I try to stay happy, even if no one understands my feelings.
One thing is for sure, I will find my happiness even if it will take years. For now, I’m in my closet because it is safe here.
Ayo F.* is not the author’s real name.