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I Could Spend 10 Years in Jail for Being a Lesbian

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.

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Article written by:

Zamara Perri

Zamara Perri is the founder and editor of the Black Lesbian Love Lab blog. She loves black love and loves mangoes, cats, reading, cooking and writing about some of the challenges and joys of black lesbian relationships.

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  1. Avatar
    Chrys Minter

    Oh wow that is so sad… You go for years not coming out then when you are comfortable to come out you risk the chance of being jailed..
    This breaks my heart….


  2. Avatar

    It truly is sad me myself I came out of my closet at the young age of 17, even though I lost a lot of family members I never faced the fear of going to jail because I want to live in my own truth. My heart goes out to you.

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